Climate change and the Paris climate agreement. A Limerick.

Re-enter the Paris accord?

A folly we ill can afford.

We’ll help China pollute,

they won’t still give a hoot.

Re-sign is a Damocles sword.

I am a climate realist, that means I look at the totality of what is happening to the climate with increasing CO2 levels, and what it means for our future.

Climate alarmists and IPCC believe that the thermal response to increasing CO2 is a feedback gain from increasing water vapor that results from higher temperatures, leading to much higher temperatures. Current climate model averages indicate a temperature rise of 4.7 C by 2100 if nothing is done, 4.65 C if U.S keeps all its Paris commitments and 4.53 C if all countries keep their part of the agreement. In all cases, with or without Paris agreement we are headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

As the chart indicates, implementing all of the Paris agreement will delay the end of mankind as we know it by at most 4 years.

The cost is staggering. The developing countries want at least 100 billion dollars a year to implement the Paris accord, all paid for by the developed countries. The most infuriating thing about that is that China is considered a developing country, and being a developed country The U.S., while reducing their CO2 footprint will be paying China until the year 2030 to further develop their coal burning electric plants until the China CO2 output is six times our output. They had plans to add 65 GW  (+6.5%) of coal-burning power plants this year alone to their grid. The china-virus delayed that by a few months, but their intent is still to dominate the world by 2025. They already consume 48% of the world’s output of coal, produce over half of the world’s steel and cement (it takes a lot of reinforced concrete to create multiple islands in the South China Sea).

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Myself and quite a few scientists, meteorologists, but mostly engineers believe the feedback loop in nature is far more complicated than what the climate models suggest, in fact, there is a large negative feedback in the system, preventing a temperature runaway, and we have the observations to prove it.  The negative feedback manifests itself in 2 ways:

Inorganic feedback, represented by clouds. If there were no clouds, the tropics would average a temperature of  140 F  thanks to the greenhouse effect. The clouds reflect back up to 300 W/m2 into space rather than the same energy being absorbed into water or soil. Clouds are highly temperature dependent, especially cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds. The figure below shows temperature at the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

Cumulus clouds are formed in the morning, earlier the warmer it is, and not at all if it is cold, thunderstorms appear when it is warm enough. The figure shows how temperature in the equatorial Pacific rises until about 8:30 a.m, then actually declines between 9 and 12 a.m. even as the sun continues to rise. The feedback, which was positive at low temperatures becomes negative at warmer temperatures, and in the equatorial doldrums, surface temperature has found its equilibrium. No amount of CO2 will change that. Equatorial temperature follows the temperature of the ocean, warmer when there is an el niño, cooler when there is a la niña. Here is a chart of temperature increases since satellite measurements began as a function of latitude.

The tropics follow the ocean temperature closely, no long term rising trend, the extra-tropics are also stable.

Not so at the poles. the temperature record indicate a noticeable warming with large spikes up and down, up to 3 degree Celsius difference from year to year, especially the Arctic. So, how much has the Arctic melted? Here is a chart of Arctic ice cover for 31 May for the last 39 years.

If this trend continues, all ice may melt in 300 to 400 years, faster if there is further warming and nothing else is changing. Let’s take a look at the Arctic above the 80th latitude, an area of about 3,85 million square kilometers, less than 1% of the earth’s surface, but it is there where global warming is most pronounced. Here are two charts from 2016 and 2017.

meanT_2017

Starting at summer 2016, the Arctic was melting quite normally, but something else happened that is not shown in the chart. Every 5 years or so, the Arctic suffer a large storm with full hurricane strength during the summer. In 2016 there was no one, but two such storms, and as they happened late in the season when the ice is rotten they result in a large ice loss, making the ice minimum the lowest on record, and the ice volume nearly 4,000 Gigatons (Gt) less than the 30 year normal. Then the temperature from October thru April did run 7 degree Celsius warmer than normal with a spike as high as 20 degrees warmer. Yet today the deficit is down to 2,500 Gt. What happened? It snowed more than normal. In the Arctic, it gets warmer under clouds, warmer still when it snows. Take a look at Greenland and what happened during the freezing season. It snowed and snowed and Greenland accumulated 150 Gt more ice than normal. So, at that point in the season we were a total of 1650 Gt ahead of previous year, and this was with Arctic temperatures being seven degrees warmer than normal during the cold season. The counter-intuitive conclusion is that it may very well be that warmer temperatures produces accumulation of snow and ice, colder temperatures with less snow accumulates less. What happens during the short Arctic summer? With more snow accumulated it takes longer to melt prevous year’s snow, so the temperature stays colder longer. In 2017 the Arctic temperature was running colder than normal every day since May 1. If this melting period ended without melting all snow, multi year ice will accumulate, and if it continued unabated, a new ice age would start.

 

The second feedback loop is organic. More CO2 means more plant growth.  According to NASA there has been a significant greening of the earth, more than 10% since satellite measurements begun. This results in a cooling effect everywhere, except in areas that used to be treeless where they have a warming effect. The net effect is that we can now feed 2 billion more people than before without using more fertilizer. Check this picture from NASA, (now they can publish real science again) showing the increased leaf area extends nearly everywhere.

In addition, more leafs changes the water cycle, increases evapotranspiration, and more trees and vegetation reduces erosion and unwanted runoff. Good news all around.

In short, taking into account the negative feedback occurring the earth will warm up less than 0.5 degrees from now, not at all in the tropics, and less than 3 degrees at the poles. Without the Paris agreement there will be no increase in the death rates in the cities, except from the slight increase of city temperatures due to the urban heat effect. With the Paris agreement we will have to make draconian cuts in our use of electricity, meaning using much less air conditioning and even less heating, and life expectancy will decline.

We need energy. It takes a lot of energy to clean up the planet. Developing nations should be encouraged to use electricity rather than cooking by dried cow-dung. Coal is limited, and we should leave some for our great great grandchildren. Oil and gas should be preserved for aviation, since there is no realistic alternative with a high enough energy density. Therefore I am an advocate for Thorium based nuclear energy, being safer than Uranium based nuclear energy, and, properly implemented will produce about 0.01% of the long term radioactive waste compared to conventional nuclear power plants. And there is a million year supply  of Thorium available. Once the electricity power plants have fully switched away from coal and gas, then and only then is it time to switch to electric cars. The case for Thorium generated electric energy can be found here.

The many cases why Thorium Nuclear Power is the only realistic solution to the world’s energy problems.

 1. A million year supply of Thorium available worldwide.

 2. Thorium already mined, ready to be extracted.

 3. Thorium based nuclear power produces 0.012 percent as much TRansUranium waste products as traditional nuclear power.

 4. Thorium based nuclear power will produce Plutonium-238, needed for space exploration.

 5. Thorium nuclear power is only realistic solution to power space colonies.

 6. Radioactive waste from an Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor decays down to background radiation in 300 years compared to a million years for U-235 based reactors. A Limerick.

 7. Thorium based nuclear power is not suited for making nuclear bombs.

 8. Produces isotopes that helps treat and maybe cure certain cancers.

 9. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe, only gravity needed for safe shutdown.

10. Molten Salt Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors cannot have a meltdown, the fuel is already molten, and it is a continuous process. No need for refueling shutdowns.

11. Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors have a very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe and stable control.

12. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions. Much safer and simpler design.

13. Virtually no spent fuel problem, very little on site storage or transport.

14. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Nuclear reactors scale beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

15. No need for evacuation zones, Liquid Fuel Thorium Reactors can be placed near urban areas.

16. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will work both as Base Load and Load Following power plants.

17. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will lessen the need for an expanded national grid.

18. Russia has an active Thorium program.

19. India is having an ambitious Thorium program, planning to meet 30% of its electricity demand via Thorium based reactors by 2050.

 20. China is having a massive Thorium program.

21. United States used to be the leader in Thorium usage. What happened?

22. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like the Three Mile Island disaster will not happen.

23. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like Chernobyl are impossible.

24. With Molten Salt Reactors, a catastrophe like Fukushima cannot happen.

25. Will produce electrical energy at about 4 cents per kWh.

26. Can deplete most of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

27. With electric cars and trucks replacing combustion engine cars, only Thorium Nuclear power is the rational solution to provide the extra electric power needed.

28. The race for space colonies is on. Only Molten Salt Thorium Nuclear reactors can fit the bill.

CO2 concentration has increased 50% since pre-industrial times causing climate change. Thorium Nuclear Power is the answer. A Limerick.

As CO2 warms up the poles

burned oil, gas and coal play their roles.

CO2 is still good;

makes plants green, grows more food,

and clouds are the climate controls.

We live in interesting times, the CO2 concentration has increased 50% since the beginning of industrialization. In the last 30 years the level has risen 17%, from about 350 ppm to nearly 410 ppm. This is what scares people. Is is time to panic and stop carbon emissions altogether as Greta Thunberg has suggested?As if on cue the climate models have been adjusted, and they suddenly show a much higher rate of temperature increase, in this case what is supposed to happen to global temperatures for a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial times, from 270ppm to 540ppm.

There are two ways to approach this problem. The models make certain assumptions about the behavior of the changing atmosphere and model future temperature changes. This is the approach taken by IPCC for the last 32 years. These models are all failing miserably when compared to actual temperature changes.

The other way i to observe what is actually happening to our temperature over time as the CO2 increases. We have 50 years of excellent global temperature data, so with these we can see where, when and by how much the earth has warmed.

The most drastic temperature rise on earth has been in the Arctic above the 80th latitude. In the winter of 2019 it was 4C above the 50 year average. See charts from the Danish Meteorological Institute:

Note, there is no increase at all in the summer temperatures!

The fall temperature saw an increase of 4C and the spring temperature saw an increase of about 2.5C.

Notice: In this chart the there is no recorded summer temperature increase at all, but the onset of fall freezing was delayed by 3 weeks.

The 5 thru 8C winter rise of temperature is significant, most would even say alarming, but my response is, why is that?

To get the answer we must study molecular absorption spectroscopy and explain a couple of facts for the 97% of all scientists who have not studied molecular spectroscopy. IPCC and most scientists claim that the greenhouse effect is dependent on the gases that are in the atmosphere, and their combined effect is additive according to a logarithmic formula. This is true up to a certain point, but it is not possible to absorb more than 100% of all the energy available in a certain frequency band! For example: If water vapor absorbs 50% of all incoming energy in a certain band, and CO2 absorbs another 90% of the energy in the same band, the result is that 95% is absorbed, (90% + 50% * (100% – 90%)),  not 140%, (90% + 50%).

The following chart shows both CO2 and H2O are absorbing greenhouse gases, with H20 being the stronger greenhouse gas, absorbing over a much wider spectrum, and they overlap for the most part. But it also matters in what frequency range s they absorb.

For this we will have to look at the frequency ranges of the incoming solar radiation and the outgoing black body radiation of the earth. It is the latter that causes the greenhouse effect. Take a look at this chart:

The red area represents the observed amount of solar radiation that reaches the earth’s surface, the white area under the red line represents radiation absorbed in the atmosphere. Likewise, the blue area represents the outgoing black body radiation that is re-emitted. The remaining white area under the magenta, blue or black line represents the retained absorbed energy that causes the greenhouse effect.

Let us  now take a look at the Carbon Dioxide bands of absorption, at 2.7, 4.3 and 15 microns. Of them the 2.7 and 4.3 micron bands absorb where there is little black body radiation, the only band that is of interest is at 15 microns, and that is in a band where the black body radiation has its maximum. However it is also in a band where water vapor also absorb, not as much as CO2,only about 20% to 70% as much. Water vapor or absolute humidity is highly dependent on the temperature of the air, so at 30C there may be 50 times as much water vapor, at 0C there may be ten times as much water vapor, and at -25C there may be more CO2 than water vapor. At those low temperatures the gases are mostly additive. In the tropics with fifty times more water vapor than CO2, increased CO2 has no influence on the temperature whatsoever. Temperature charts confirm this assertion:

Here the temperature in the tropics displays no trend whatsoever. It follows the temperature of the oceans, goes up in an El Niño and down in a La Niña. The temperature in the southern hemisphere shows no trend. In the northern temperate region there is a slight increase, but the great increase is occurring in the Arctic. There is no increase in the Antarctic yet even though the increase in CO2 is greater in the Antarctic and the winter temperature in the Antarctic is even lower than in the Arctic. So CO2 increase cannot be the sole answer to the winter temperature increase in the Arctic.

There is an obvious answer. When temperatures increase the air can contain more moisture and will transport more moisture from the tropics all the way to the arctic, where it falls as snow. Is the snow increasing in the Northern Hemisphere?

Let us see what the snow statistics show. These are from the Rutgers’ snow lab.

The fall snow extent is increasing, and has increased by more than 2 percent per year.

The winter snowfall has also increased but only by 0.04 percent per year. The snow covers all of Russia, Northern China, Mongolia, Tibet, Kashmir and northern Pakistan, Northern Afghanistan, Northern Iran, Turkey, Part of Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Canada, Alaska, Greenland and part of Western and Northern United States.

In the spring on the other hand the snow pack is melting faster, about 1.6 percent less snow per year. One of the major reasons for an earlier snow-melt is that the air is getting dirtier, especially over China, and to some extent Russia. The soot from burning coal and mining and manufacturing changes the albedo of the snow. The soot is visible on old snow all the way up to the North Pole. The other reason is that the poles are getting warmer. In the fall and winter it is mostly due to increased snowfall, but in the spring, as soon as the temperature rises over the freezing point, melting occurs.

So the warming of the poles, far from being an impending end of mankind as we know it, may even be beneficial. Warmer poles in the winter means less temperature gradient between the poles and the tropics, leading to less severe storms. They will still be there, but less severe.

There is one great benefit of increased CO2, the greening of the earth.

Thanks to this greening, accomplished with only the fertilizing effect of CO2, the earth can now keep another 2 billion people from starvation, not to mention what it does to increase wild plants and wildlife. More vegetation also helps to combat erosion.

Having said that, I am still a conservationist. Coal, oil and gas will run out at some time, and I for one would like to save some for future generations, not yet born. In addition I would like to minimize the need for mining, which can be quite destructive to the environment.

The best solution is to switch most electricity generation to Thorium molten salt nuclear power. There are many reasons why this should be done as a priority.

Here are some of them:

The case for Thorium. 1. A million year supply of Thorium available worldwide.

The case for Thorium. 2. Thorium already mined, ready to be extracted.

The case for Thorium. 3. Thorium based nuclear power produces 0.012 percent as much TRansUranium waste products as traditional nuclear power.

The case for Thorium. 4. Thorium based nuclear power will produce Plutonium-238, needed for space exploration.

The case for Thorium. 5. Thorium nuclear power is only realistic solution to power space colonies.

The case for Thorium. 6. Radioactive waste from an Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor decays down to background radiation in 300 years compared to a million years for U-235 based reactors. A Limerick.

The case for Thorium. 7. Thorium based nuclear power is not suited for making nuclear bombs.

The case tor Thorium. 8. Produces isotopes that helps treat and maybe cure certain cancers.

The case for Thorium. 9. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe, only gravity needed for safe shutdown.

The case for Thorium. 10. Molten Salt Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors cannot have a meltdown, the fuel is already molten, and it is a continuous process. No need for refueling shutdowns.

The case for Thorium. 11. Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors have a very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe and stable control.

The case for Thorium 13. Virtually no spent fuel problem, very little on site storage or transport.

The case for Thorium. 14. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Nuclear reactors scale beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

The case for Thorium. 15. No need for evacuation zones, Liquid Fuel Thorium Reactors can be placed near urban areas.

The case for Thorium. 16. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will work both as Base Load and Load Following power plants.

The case for Thorium. 17. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will lessen the need for an expanded national grid.

The case for Thorium. 18. Russia has an active Thorium program.

The case for Thorium. 19. India is having an ambitious Thorium program, planning to meet 30% of its electricity demand via Thorium based reactors by 2050.

The case for Thorium 20. China is having a massive Thorium program.

The case for Thorium. 21. United States used to be the leader in Thorium usage. What happened?

The case for Thorium. 22. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like the Three Mile Island disaster will not happen.

The case for Thorium. 23. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like Chernobyl are impossible.

The case for Thorium. 24. With Molten Salt Reactors, a catastrophe like Fukushima cannot happen.

The case for Thorium. 25. Will produce electrical energy at about 4 cents per kWh.

The case for Thorium. 26. Can deplete most of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

The case for Thorium. 27. With electric cars and trucks replacing combustion engine cars, only Thorium Nuclear power is the rational solution to provide the extra electric power needed.

The case for Thorium 28. The race for space colonies is on. Only Molten Salt Thorium Nuclear reactors can fit the bill.

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lenbilen

Retired engineer, graduated from Chalmers Technical University a long time ago with a degree in Technical Physics. Career in Aerospace, Analytical Chemistry, computer chip manufacturing and finally adjunct faculty at Pennsylvania State University, taught just one course in Computer Engineering, the Capstone Course.

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The case for Thorium 28. The race for space colonies is on. Only Molten Salt Thorium Nuclear reactors can fit the bill.

US reveals plan for nuclear power plant on the MOON that could power lunar Space Force base

NASA astronauts could one day live on the Moon inside a base powered by a lunar nuclear plant.

That’s according to plans shared by the US Department of Energy, which hopes to have the sci-fi power station up and running by 2027.

Nasa may one day build a nuclear power plant on the Moon.

The DoE on Friday put out a request online for ideas from the private sector on how to build such a contraption.

Dubbed a fission surface power system, the station could help man survive harsh environments on the Moon, Mars and beyond.

“Small nuclear reactors can provide the power capability necessary for space exploration missions of interest to the Federal government,” the DoE wrote in the notice published Friday.

Nasa has plans to put astronauts on the Moon in 2024 – the first manned mission to the lunar surface in almost five decades.

Nasa plans to establish a permanent base on the Moon in 2028

 
Nasa plans to establish a permanent base on the Moon in 2028.

The space agency has said it wants to set up a permanent base on Earth’s rocky neighbour in 2028. The base will help launch future missions to Mars.

Questions remain over what will power the base. Nasa would like to use solar panels, but the most power is needed during the 14 day lunar night every month, so nuclear power is the only practical solution.

It seems the space agency, working with the The Idaho National Laboratory and Department of Energy, is at least exploring the nuclear option.

According to the notice published to the DoE’s website, officials are looking for ideas on how to build a mostly autonomous lunar power station.

Only Molten Salt Thorium reactors would fit the bill.

It should work for 10 years at full power and boast a modular design that allows power units to connect together like Lego bricks.

Would-be designers are asked to whip something up that can survive the surface of Mars without modification.

They can be made very compact and modular

The case for Thorium. 26. Can deplete most of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

LFTR is a type of Molten Salt Reactor with equipment to convert plentiful thorium into uranium (U233) to use as fuel. It can also use plutonium from LWR (Light Water Reactor) waste. LFTR is not very efficient at using depleted uranium (need a Fast-Spectrum reactor to fission U-238 effectively; in a thermal-spectrum reactor like LFTR or LWR, would convert some U-238 to plutonium which is fissile).

Because a LFTR fissions 99%+ of the fuel (whether thorium, or plutonium from nuclear waste), it consumes all the uranium and transuraniums leaving no long-term radioactive waste. 83% of the waste products are safely stabilized within 10 years. The remaining 17% need to be stored less than 350 years to become completely benign.

“LFTR technology can also be used to reprocess and consume the remaining fissile material in spent nuclear fuel stockpiles around the world and to extract and resell many of the other valuable fission byproducts that are currently deemed hazardous waste in their current spent fuel rod form. The U.S. nuclear industry has already allocated $25 billion for storage or reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and the world currently has over 340,000 tons of spent LWR fuel with enough usable fissile material to start one 100 MWe LFTR per day for 93 years. (A 100 MW LFTR requires 100 kg of fissile material (U-233, U-235, or Pu-239) to start the chain reaction). LFTR can also be used to consume existing U-233 stockpiles at ORNL ($500 million allocated for stockpile destruction) and plutonium from weapons stockpiles.”

FS-MSRs essentially avoid the entire fuel qualification issue in that they are tolerant of any fissile material composition, with their inherent strong negative thermal reactivity feedback providing the control necessary to accommodate a shifting fuel feed stream. Fast Spectrum Molten Salt Reactor Options,

See also point 17: Russia develops a fission-fusion hybrid reactor.

Some of the pictures are from a slide presentation given by David Archibald in Melbourne Feb 5 2011. He posted it “for the benefit of all” which I have interpreted as waving the copyright of the pictures

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/12/david-archibald-on-climate-and-energy-security/

The case for Thorium. 25. Will produce electrical energy at about 4 cents per kWh.

Produces electrical energy at about 4 cents per kWh.

The United States sources of Electricity generation is one third from Natural Gas, one third from Coal and one third from non fossil fuel sources.

Image result for us electricity generation by source

The cost to produce electricity with Thorium nuclear power should be about 40% less than Advanced Nuclear and about 30 % less than from Coal (with scrubbers)  Solar generation is about 4 times more expensive (without subsidies) Wind power is cheaper when the wind blows, but the generation capacity has to be there even when the wind doesn’t blow, so the only gain from wind power is to lessen the mining or extraction of carbon. In addition, wind power kills birds, the free yearly quota of allowable Bald Eagle kills was upped from 1200 to 4200 during the Obama administration. (https://lenbilen.com/2019/04/12/what-is-more-precious-babies-eagles-or-fighting-climate-change/). Golden Eagles and a few other rare birds has a quarter of a million dollar fine associated with their kills. If wind power is increased without finding a solution to the bird kills, whole species may be extinct. Solar power is, and will be used in special applications such as on roofs for backup and peak power assist. Hydroelectric power is for all practical purpose maxed out, so nearly all future increase must come from Coal, Natural Gas, Petroleum or Nuclear. Thorium powered Nuclear Generators is the way to go.

The case for Thorium. 24. With Molten Salt Reactors, a catastrophe like Fukushima cannot happen..

With Molten Salt Reactors, a catastrophe like Fukushima cannot happen.  It began with a magnitude 9.0 earthquake not far from the Fukushima 6 Nuclear reactor complex. The impact was a magnitude 6.8 earthquake and the operators immediately scrammed the safety rods to stop all the reactors. This succeeded! The reactors were designed with earthquakes in mind, and they passed the test. The backup power started up successfully so the cooling pumps could operate. There was one major problem though. The earthquake was so bad that the water in the spent fuel holding tanks splashed out and exposed the spent fuel rods to air, releasing enough radioactivity to make entering the buildings impossible.

Image result for fukushima reactor design

The water pumps worked for a while, but then came the tsunami. All the reactors were inside a tsunami wall, so far, so good. But the fuel storage tanks for the fuel for the backup power generators were outside the tsunami wall and were washed away. The batteries were only supposed to last until backup power was established, and with complete power loss and water circulation ended the meltdown started. This disaster was even bigger than Chernobyl and contamination is still spreading.

In a molten salt Thorium reactor, when power is cut off in an emergency, only gravity is needed for a safe shutdown, and gravity hasn’t failed us yet.

The case for Thorium. 23. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like Chernobyl are impossible.

With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like Chernobyl are impossible. The Three Mile Island accident was bad. The Chernobyl disaster was ten million times worse. Ah yes, I remember it  well.

One morning at work, a fellow co-worker, a Ph.D. Chemist working on an Electron Capture Detector, containing a small amount of Nickel 63, came with a surprising question: You know nuclear science, how come the reactors in Chernobyl don’t have a containment vessel? Well- I answered, it is because they are carbon moderated and their failure mode is that they go prompt critical, and  no containment vessel in the world can hold it in, so they skip it. He turned away in disgust. A few weeks later my wife’s father died, and we went to Denmark to attend the funeral. The day of the return back to the U.S. we heard that there had been a nuclear incident in Sweden, too much radiation had caused two nuclear power stations to close down. The Chernobyl disaster had happened 26 April 1986, and this was the first time anyone outside of Chernobyl has heard about it, two days later. This was still the Soviet Union, and nothing ever did go wrong in it worthy of reporting.

Image result for the chernobyl disaster

(Photo Courtesy of EBRD)

(But the carbon moderated Uranium reactors are the most efficient in producing Pu-239 the preferred nuclear bomb material.)

This has nothing to do with anything, but Chernobyl can be translated wormwood. It is mentioned in the Bible, Revelation 8: 10-11 “ And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

Molten Salt Thorium reactors cannot be used to supply bomb material, and they are far safer than even Light water Uranium reactors.

The case for Thorium. 22. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like the Three Mile Island disaster will not happen.

With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like the Three Mile Island disaster will not happen. Ah yes, I remember it well, March 28, 1979. We lived in South East Pennsylvania at the time, well outside the evacuation zone, but a fellow engineer at work took off, took vacation and stayed at a hotel in western Virginia over the weekend fearing a nuclear explosion. My wife went to a retreat just outside the evacuation zone, and none of them so much as heard of any problem, there never was any evacuation. There was concern though, and a disaster it was indeed with a partial meltdown of the core, rendering the installation a total loss, leaving a big, forever cleanup bill. The cost so far has totaled over 2 billion dollars.

A combination of personnel error, design deficiencies and component failures caused the TMI accident, which permanently changed both the nuclear industry and the NRC. Public fear and distrust increased, NRC’s regulations and oversight became broader and more robust, and management of the plants was scrutinized more carefully. Careful analysis of the accident’s events identified problems and led to permanent and sweeping changes in how NRC regulates its licensees – which, in turn, has reduced the risk to public health and safety.

The side effect of increased regulation is increased cost and delay in construction of new nuclear plants. Eventually, more than 120 reactor orders were cancelled, and the construction of new reactors ground to a halt. Of the 253 nuclear power reactors originally ordered in the United States from 1953 to 2008, 48 percent were canceled.

Another side effect of the TMI accident is fear of trying a different and safer approaches, since they conflict with existing regulations. The next Nuclear power reactor came online in 2016, but it is the same type of boiling water reactor as before, not a Molten Salt Thorium reactor with its inherent radically increased safety.

The case for Thorium. 21. United States used to be the leader in Thorium usage. What happened?

United States used to be the leader in Thorium usage. What happened?

The 40 MWe Peach Bottom HTR in the USA was a demonstration Thorium-fueled reactor that ran from 1967-74.  and produced a total of 33 billion kWh.

The 330 MWe Fort St Vrain HTR in Colorado, USA, ran from 1976-89.  Almost 25 tons of Thorium was used in fuel for the reactor.

A unique Thorium-fueled light water breeder reactor operated from 1977 to 1982 at Shippingport in the USA– it used uranium-233 and had a power output of 60 MWe.

However, after 10 years passed and billions invested, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission abandoned thorium research, with uranium-fueled nuclear power becoming the standard. In the 1980s, commercial Thorium ventures failed, such as the Indian Point Unit 1 water reactor near New York City, because of the vast financial costs of going alone in a hostile regulatory environment, and fuel and equipment failures. By the 1990s, the US nuclear power industry had abandoned Thorium, partly because Thorium’s breeding ratio was thought insufficient to produce enough fuel for commercial industrialization.

After the Three Mile Island accident, Middletown, PA in 1979 there was a 30 plus  year hiatus in building another nuclear plant, and Thorium was not on any politicians list of areas in which to invest scarce research funds.

Some research and development was still conducted, but it was more concentrated in protecting the U.S. leading position in monitoring  and controlling existing nuclear technology. As a contrast even the Netherlands is developing a molten salt Thorium reactor.

Will the U.S. again show leadership?