The Transcontinental Aqueduct; Will it pay for itself?

The goal of the Transcontinental Aqueduct is to save Lake Mead, save the American Southwest from becoming a desert, provide Hydroelectric peak storage for Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, provide sweet Mississippi water for irrigation, provide water to the Colorado river so it again can reach the ocean, revitalize San Carlos lake, provide more and better drinking water to 30 million people, to name just a few benefits.

The cost is substantial. The biggest problem is that the aqueduct must be substantially completed at full capacity before any benefits from the water will materialize. The cost to bring the aqueduct to half capacity is 300.5 billion dollars in construction cost only. This includes the cost of half the pumps or generators needed for full capacity, but not the cost of the power plants. Add to this the cost of filling the aqueduct and the 11 dams. The aqueduct itself will contain 1 million acre-ft of water when filled, the 11 dams will contain about 800,000 acre-ft when half full. To pump 1.8 MAF an average of 5000 feet requires about 10 TWh, when losses are included. Th filling stage water will be pumped, using excess wind and solar power at bargain rates, about 4 c/kwh , the same as the LFTR will produce when fully installed. This is about 320 million dollars in “liquid investment” The electric cost of moving one acre-ft from the Mississippi to the Colorado River is 6 MWh. This power is initially bought from off-peak wind and solar power, but as the aqueduct is completed with true hydropower storage up more and more the power will be generated with 100 MW LFTR power plants, the hydropower storage will be filled with excess wind and solar power.

In short: assuming a 50 year amortization plan for the aqueduct, and money available at 2%, , it will cost 12.5 billion a year in capital cost to deliver 7.5 MAF water from the Mississippi River to the Colorado river or any point in between, or $1,670 per acre-ft. Add to that $240 for electricity and another $50 per acre-ft in overhead and maintenance, the cost will be $1960 per acre-ft

When the aqueduct is fully built up, it will cost $13.4 billion yearly in capital cost to deliver 14.5 MAF of water from the Mississippi River to the Colorado river or any point in between, or $ 925 per acre-ft. The other costs stay the same, so the total cost of water will be $ 1,215 per acre-ft.

I have not yet mentioned the other major benefit of the Transcontinental Aqueduct. If I wanted the lowest cost of water possible, I would have used the lower route, going through the Texas lowlands to El Paso before routing it through New Mexico and Arizona. I routed it through the high and dry parts of Texas and New Mexico, at extra altitude penalty. The intent is to provide Hydropower storage at select places. These places are ideal for wind and solar power, but they need to store the energy when the sun is not up or doesn’t shine, or the wind doesn’t blow. Right now that is provided by coal and natural gas. Conventional nuclear power is best for use as base power only, so this transcontinental aqueduct will provide up to 23 GW of pure hydropower storage for 5 hours a day, but the LFTR nuclear stations providing the energy pumping the water in the aqueduct will shut off the pumps for five hours a day, or when the need arises, and instead provide another 20 GW of virtual hydropower power.

These 43 GW of hydropower capacity will be as follows: Louisiana, 0.4 GW; Texas, 18,5 GW (right now, Texas has no hydropower storage, but plenty of wind power); New Mexico, 10.5 GW; Arizona 13.6 GW. In Addition, when the Transcontinental Aqueduct is fully built up, the Hoover dam can provide a true 2.2 GW hydrostorage poser by pumping water back from Lake Mojave, a 3 billion dollar existing proposal waiting to be realized once Lake Mead is saved.

The amount of installed hydroelectric power storage is:

U.S. operating hydroelectric pumped storage capacity

Most hydroelectric pumped storage was installed in the 70’s. Now natural gas plants provide most of the peak power. This aqueduct will double, triple the U.S. pumped peak storage if virtual peak storage is included. By being pumped from surplus wind and solar energy as well as nuclear energy it is true “Green power”. Some people like that.

Apocalypse in China. Two dams in inner Mongolia burst! Like catastrophic flooding in Europe, blame climate change first!

Two dams collapsed in the Hulunbuir proince on Sunday, July 18.

6,660 people were affected; 53,800 acres of farmland was flooded; 22 bridges, 124 culverts, and 15.6 kilometres of highway were destroyed….Casualties are unknown.

On July 20 was reported heavy rains in the Henan province caused flooding of the Yellow river and its tributaries. The yellow river normally does not even reach the ocean for 3 months of the year!

In Europe flooding occurred in at least 7 countries. It started with heavy rains in the beginning of July, some areas received 4 inches of rain, over three times the normal rainfall for all of July, then on July 14 fell another 4 inches. The dams were already full to the brim, so many areas were flooded.

Here is a very good summary of the events in Europe, and as you expected, climate change is blamed.

What did he mean by “We are now officially in the era of climate change.”

Europe and China have always had floods. In fact, casualties have gone down substantially in the last hundred and fifty years. Here is a chart from Europe:

Dams has always been important since the beginning of industrialization, first as water wheels to provide power, then with electricity the rivers were really exploited to provide hydroelectric power. Flood control was also important, and there is a trade-off, which is more important, electric power or flood prevention? To maximize electric output you want to have the dams filled to the brim at all times, for flood control you want to have the dams at half full, to always be ready to absorb the next rain. The problem is that in so doing the dams only produce 70% of maximum energy. To complicate matters, the last ten years there has been a large investment in wind and solar energy, and when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, the hydro-electric power storage will have to fill in the gaps, if we are to have any clean energy at all times.

This was the case in Europe in July. The early rains had filled up the dams to within a foot of maximum, and there had not been any controlled releases to prepare for the additional rains expected. Bureaucrats hate to do controlled releases, they see billions of Kilowatt hours go to waste. The bureaucracy failed, these decisions must be made with no delay, but if politicians rather than technically competent people are to make the decisions, the time delays inherent in any bureaucracy will make disasters like these happen again and again.

The solution to the water shortage in the South-West, and Texas hydro-electric storage problem, eliminating carbon fuel dependence at the same time.

The Hoover dam water is being depleted. We are running out of water in the South-West United States. The water used for irrigation is too salty. The rapidly growing population requires more and more water. Texas needs hydro-electric storage to supplement the power when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining.

First let us assess the size of the problem. The rainfall reaching the streams in the Colorado River basin is about 15 million acre feet per year, and is not increasing. See figure:

Now let us look at water allocations:

The total allocations come to 16.5 Million Acre Feet per year. This is clearly unsustainable, Lake Mead will be drained by 2 MAF per year and is now at 34% of full pool of 32.3 MAF. If nothing is done it will be drained in 5.5 years. Draining Lake Powell will give us another 4 years, so something must be done in the next 9.5 years.

Texas has a problem, all too well displayed in the big freeze of last winter. The wind farms froze, the sun didn’t shine and the coal fired plants had been shut down for environmental reasons. The only thing that saved the grid from total collapse was Nuclear Power. Even the Natural Gas powered plants ran out of supplies since some pipelines had lost power. And Texas has virtually no hydroelectric storage capacity.

This is my proposal: Build an aqueduct from the Mississippi river to Yuma California, about 1650 miles long, capable of carrying 15 MAF/year of water It will start and end near sea level, and pump water in Texas and New Mexico to more than 4000 feet elevation until it reaches the Gila river near Duncan, NM, then follow the Gila river all the way down to Yuma, AZ. On the way down the Gila River it will generate hydroelectric power, and recover much of the power spent pumping the water upstream in Texas and NM. You may wonder, what would a canal like that look like? Some of the way it would look like this, but be 30% larger, here is the All American canal under construction:

It will have many pumping stations. The size will be about 10 times the capacity of the ones used in the Colorado River aqueduct, shown here. (This aqueduct made it possible for Los Angeles to grow to a megalopolis.)

To pump all this water 4500 feet up will require twenty-two 500 MW electric power generators. The ideal power source for this is Liquid Fluor Thorium Reactors that provide power at all times, most of the time they pump water, but about 6 hours a day they stop pumping and provide peak power, thus functioning as a virtual hydroelectric battery. As all nuclear generators they generate no CO2, and LFTRs are so safe they do not require evacuation zones. If the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, or it is excessively cold or hot, they can even stop pumping water altogether and provide all the power to the grid. With the water on the downhill leg the opposite is true. It releases most of its water during times of high demand, acting as a normal peak water storage generator facility. Since both start and end points of this aqueduct is near sea level, about 90% of the power is recovered in this way except for the water that is diverted at high altitudes.

Who is going to get all this extra water? Check the current allotment and the new proposed allotment.

There will be no changes to the allotments for the states in the upper Colorado River basin in this proposal.

California will get its allotment increased from 4.4 MAF to 6.4 MAF, all water coming from the new aqueduct.

Arizona will get its allotment increased from 2.8 MAF to 4.3 MAF, all from the new aqueduct.

Nevada will get its allotment increased from 0.3 MAF to 1.3 MAF, the increase will be taken from Lake Mead.

Mexico will get its allotment doubled, to 3.0 MAF. The Colorado river should again be reaching Baja California with a flow of 0.5 MAF. This may restore a modest fishery.

New Mexico will be allotted 1.0 MAF for high elevation irrigation from this new aquifer.

The aqueduct will supply California, Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico with water from the Mississippi river, much better suited for irrigation than the present water which is high in salinity.

This will reduce the outflow from the Hoover dam by 6.9 MAF, and the new aqueduct will supply 10.4 MAF downstream from Lake Mead.. With this reduction in outflow Lake Mead will recover quite well.

When the Hoover dam is near full pool, we should start using it as a peak power supplier by pumping water back from Lake Mohave to Lake Mead during off peak demand.

If there ever was a project worthy of consideration in the Infrastructure bill, this is it. Look what it does:

  1. Saves Lake Mead from being emptied and secures its refilling over time.
  2. The 22 LFTR plants in Texas and New Mexico will provide up to 8 GW of peak power for 5 hours a day, and all 11 GW of power can be commandeered for emergency use for a week.
  3. The downstream dams in Arizona will provide up to 6 GW of peak power.
  4. Once the project is finished, the Hoover dam is converted to a peak power storage with 2 GW peak power available.
  5. the addition of 10.4 MAF water will add 40% to the water supply for over 40 million people.
  6. The Mississippi water is better suited for irrigation than Colorado River water due to much less salinity.
  7. By increasing irrigation by at least 3.5 MAF it will provide a 40% increase in food production from the greater imperial valley and a 40% increase in food production from Mexico.
  8. The electric energy generated by the Nuclear power plants is all carbon free, and because of the peak power generated on the downhill leg, we can build another 19 GW peak power of renewable wind and solar generators. This will allow us to retire 19 GW of Coal fired power plants once the aqueduct is completed

The new name for this canal would be the Transcontinental Aqueduct.

Time to rethink ethanol mandates for gasoline.

I just checked the price of corn. On May 7, the May 21, 2021 contract closed at $ 7.72 a bushel. A year ago, the price was a little over three dollars per bushel.
One bushel of corn makes 2.5 gallon of ethanol
That makes the feedstock price to make ethanol $3.08 a gallon. Add to that 50 cents to make the stuff and distribute it and the price per gallon is $ 3.58.
Since the heat content of ethanol is 67% of regular gasoline (no ethanol), the gasoline equivalent price of ethanol is $ 5.34 per gallon.
Over five bucks a gallon for ethanol! And that is before profit, blending, selling and taxes!
That’s the good news.
For the people that are worried about CO2 the bad news is:
To make corn you have to use 150 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per acre. It takes the equivalent of 0.15 gallons of gasoline to produce one pound of nitrogen fertilizer. That comes to the equivalent of 22.5 gallons of gasoline to fertilize one acre. One acre of corn yields about 150 bushels of corn.
The fuel spent to produce one bushel of corn is therefore more than 0.15 gallons of gasoline. Since it also involves sowing, preparing the soil, cultivating, pesticides, phosphate fertilizer and harvesting it takes 0.25 gallons of fuel to produce one bushel of corn.
Here comes the kicker: When you ferment sugar into alcohol half the weight disappears as CO2! Let us examine the formula: C6H12O6 + Zymase → 2C2H5OH + 2CO2
The molecule weight of C2H5OH is 46 and the molecule weight of CO2 is 44.
Well almost half anyway.
Let us assume you have a car that gets 25 miles to the gallon and you drive 100 mile on pure gasoline. You have used 4 gallons of gasoline.
Now take the same car and drive 100 miles with a 10% ethanol mix, mandated by the EPA. Remember, they are concerned about CO2.
The ethanol has only 67% of the heat content of gasoline so the gas mileage will be lower. It will be consuming 0.04 x 0.9 +0.1 x 1.5 x 0.04 = 0.042 gallons per mile, 5% more or a total of 4.2 gallons for the 100 mile trip.
So you consumed 3.78 gallons of gasoline and 0.42 gallons of ethanol, for a total of 4.2 gallons. We have all experienced this increase in gas consumption. And this is best case.
What about CO2 up in the air? In the pure gasoline case we produced 4 gallons worth of CO2.
In the ethanol mix case we produced 4.2 gallons worth of CO2.
Add to that another .4 gallons equivalence of CO2 from the fermentation, and another .04 gallons worth of CO2 to produce the corn in the first place.
The sum total is 4.64 gallons worth of CO2, or about 16% more than in the gasoline only case.
But corn does absorb CO2 when it grows! Doesn’t that count?
Corn is one of the worst crops for soil erosion and uses up other nourishments that will not be used if you make ethanol from it. Granted the cattle are happy for the cakes that are left when the sugar and oil is removed.
In this age of looming food shortages nearly any other use of available tillable soil is to be preferred over ethanol production.
Oh, and one more thing. Assume that pure gasoline is 3 dollars a gallon at the pump, which includes 50 cents in taxes.
Unsubsidized ethanol blend should be $5.34 a gallon, before taxes
But we subsidize the ethanol production so the price is still 3 dollars a gallon at the pump.
If we used pure gasoline the hundred mile trip would cost twelve dollars.
If we paid full price for the ethanol blend we would pay $ 13.79 for the trip and produce 16% more CO2.
We are really paying $ 13.79 for the trip, produce 16% more CO2 and leave a bill of $1.79 for our grandchildren to pay, the subsidy of 0.42 gallons of ethanol.
This is EPA legislation at work, trying to combat the coming “climate catastrophe.”

There is a better way. remove ethanol subsidy guarantees and let the corn be used to produce more chicken and pork, and use some of the acreage to produce grain for a hungry world. This will help to prevent food prices inflation.

Will we have hyperinflation?

Even the question is scary.

The fascination for hyperinflation and its consequences has been with me since childhood. In third grade I went to a small school in Sweden with only two classrooms, one for grade 1 and 2, and one for grades 3 to 6. One boy had a very large stack of old German money, and we used to play with them. Many were hundred mark bills, stamped over with a cheap ink stamp 1ooooo Marks or 1 Million Marks. I collected stamps in those days also, from a 2 Pfennig stamp to 20 Milliarden Marks (That is 20 Billion Marks) stamp.

How did this hyperinflation happen? Germany lost the great war (WWI) and as a punishment were forced to pay large war reparation penalties. My own grandfather had a fishinf ketch, named Majblomma (Mayflower). They ysed to go fishing on Doggers Banks and land the catch in Aberdeen or Hull, then catch some more fish on the way home. One day a German u-boat came up and one officer informed them to go into the life boat, for they were ordered to torpedo the fishing boat. So they did. After the war my grandfather got compensated for his loss, and he bought a much larger schooner, and his team could aontinue fishing in the North Sea. These war reparations sank the German economy, and the Weimar Republic solved the problem by printing money. This worked for a whils, and then hyperinflation set in. This was in my opinion the major reason for Hitler’s rise. He got Germany back on strong economic footing, and being the Master Race, Germany was going to rule the world, after they had won the war. (WWII). With great sacrifice that didn’t happen.

Did it happen again? A few days ago, Nikki Haley sent a real 100 bolivar bill in the mail to my wife. There was probably a message in that, I for one grabbed the bill to see how much it is worth today. It was printed in August 2014, and was then worth on the official exchange 6,3 bolivars to the dollar, so the official value was over 15 dollars, but the real black market value was about one dollar. Then real inflation set in, and in 2018 they made a new bolívar soberano (sovereign bolívar) each worth 100,000 bolívar fuerte (strong bolívar), so the old 100 bolivar bill was then worth 0.1 cents. But it didn’t stop there. The March 7 exchange rate is 1,889,000 bolivars to the dollar, so the 100 Bolivar bill Nikki Haley gave my wife is now worth 0.000000053 cents

That is hyperinflation.

Could it happen here? I used to think never, but now i am not so sure. There are warning signs in the money supply, especially the M1 money supply. The Fed has stopped using it as an indicator of the nation’s fiscal state. Here is a chart of what is going on:

“As announced on March 15, 2020, the Board reduced reserve requirement ratios to zero percent effective March 26, 2020. This action eliminated reserve requirements for all depository institutions.

If I understand this right, the FED reduced the denominator in the equation for the velocity of money, meaning that the gain in the system can now be infinite.

Not very assuring.

Clouds, water vapor and CO2 – why nearly all climate models fail. – and a Limerick.

 

Fear spreads up on Capitol Hill

The Climate change will break their will.

AOC: In Ten years

our world disappears!

She acts as a New Green Deal shill.

Quote from Alexandria Occasio-Cortez in January 2019: “Millennials and Gen Z and all these folks that come after us are looking up, and we’re like, ‘The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change, and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?’ ” she said.

I beg to differ.

We live in only one world. As a concerned citizen I realize we have immense environmental challenges before us, with water pollution; from plastics in the ocean, excess fertilizer in the rivers, poison from all kinds of chemicals, including antibiotics, birth control and other medicines flushed down the toilet after going through our bodies, animals fed antibiotics, pest control, weed control and so on. Increasing CO2 is not one of the problems, it will in fact help with erosion control, and allow us to feed more people on less agricultural land with proper management, and require less fertilizer and water to do so. In fact, proper water management is a larger problem, with some rivers no longer even reaching the ocean. All water is already spoken for, especially in the 10 to 40 degrees latitude, where most people live.

Allow me to be somewhat technical and give the background to why I know we will never experience the thermal runaway they are so afraid of.

Many years ago I worked at Hewlett Packard on an Atomic Absorption Detector. It was a huge technical success but a commercial failure, as it was too expensive to use for routine applications. However it found a niche and became the detector of choice when dismantling the huge nerve gas stockpiles remaining from the cold war. I was charged with doing the spectrum analysis and produce the final data from the elements. One day two salesmen came and tried to sell us  a patented device that could identify up to 21 different elements with one analysis. They had a detector that divided the visual band into 21 parts, and bingo, with proper, not yet “fully developed” software you could now analyze up to 21 elements with one gas chromath analysis. What could be better? We could only analyze correctly four or five elements simultaneously. It turns out the elements are absorbing in the same wavelength bands, scientifically speaking they are not orthogonal, so software massaging can only go so far. It turned out that the promised new detector was inferior to what we already had and could only quantify three or 4 elements at the most.

In the atmosphere the two most important greenhouse gases are water vapor and CO2 with methane a distant third. Water vapor is much more of a greenhouse gas everywhere except near the tropopause high above the high clouds and near the poles when the temperature is below 0 F, way below freezing. A chart shows the relationship between CO2 and water vapor:

Image result for h20 and co2 as greenhouse gases

Source: http://notrickszone.com/2017/07/31/new-paper-co2-has-negligible-influence-on-earths-temperature/

Even in Barrow, Alaska water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas. Only at the South Pole (And North Pole) does CO2 dominate (but only in the winter).

All Climate models take this into account, and that is why they all predict that the major temperature increase will occur in the polar regions with melting icecaps and other dire consequences. But they also predict a uniform temperature rise from the increased forcing from CO2 and the additional water vapor resulting from the increased temperature.

This is wrong on two accounts. First, CO2 and H2O gas are nor orthogonal, that means they both absorb in the same frequency bands. There are three bands where CO2 absorbs more than H2O in the far infrared band, but other than that H2O is the main absorber. If H2O is 80 times as common as CO2 as it is around the equator, water vapor is still the dominant absorber, and the amount of CO2 is irrelevant.

Secondly gases cannot absorb more than 100% of the energy available in any given energy wavelength! So if H2O did absorb 80% of the energy and CO2 absorbed 50%, the sum is not 130%, only 90%. (0.8 + 0.5×0,2 or 0.5 + 0.8×0.5). In this example CO2 only adds one quarter of what the models predict.

How do I know this is true? Lucky for us we can measure what increasing CO2 in the atmosphere has already accomplished. For a model to have credibility it must be tested with measurements, and pass the test. There is important evidence suggesting the basic story is wrong. All greenhouse gases work by affecting the lapse rate in the tropics. They thus create a “hot spot” in the tropical troposphere. The theorized “hot spot” is shown in the early IPCC publications. (Fig A)

Fig. B shows observations. The hotspot is not there. If the hotspot is not there, the models must be wrong. So what is wrong with the models? This was reported in 2008 and the models still assume the additive nature of greenhouse gases, even to the point when more than 100% of the energy in a given band is absorbed.

How about Methane? Do not worry, it absorbs nearly exclusively in the same bands as water vapor and has no measurable influence on the climate.

But it will get warmer at the poles. That will cause melting of the ice-caps? Not so fast. When temperature rises the atmosphere can hold more water vapor, so it will snow more at higher latitudes. While winter temperatures will be higher with more snowfall, this will lower the summer temperatures until the extra snow has melted. And that is what is happening in the Arctics

As we can see from this picture, the winters were about 5 degrees warmer, but starting from late May through early August temperatures were lower. It takes time to melt all the extra snow that fell because of the less cold air, able to contain more water vapor.

These are my suggestions

  1. Do not worry about increasing CO2 levels. The major temperature stabilizer is clouds, and they will keep the earth from overheating by reflecting back into space a large amount of incoming solar radiation. Always did, and always will, even when the CO2 concentration was more than 10000 ppm millions of years ago. Ice ages will still come, and this is the next major climate change, maybe 10000 years from now, probably less.
  2. Clean up rivers, lakes and oceans from pollution. This is a priority.
  3. Limit Wind turbine electric energy to areas not populated by large birds to save the birds. Already over 1.3 million birds a year are killed by wind turbines, including the bald and Golden Eagles that like to build their aeries on top of wind turbines.
  4. Do not build large solar concentration farms. They too kill birds.
  5. Solar panels are o.k. not in large farms, but distributed on roofs to provide backup power.
  6. Exploit geothermal energy in geologically stable areas.
  7. Where ever possible add peak power generation and storage capacity to existing hydroelectric power plants by pumping back water into the dams during excess capacity.
  8. Add peak power storage dams, even in wildlife preserves. The birds and animals don’t mind.
  9. Develop Thorium based Nuclear Power. Russia, China, Australia and India are ahead of us in this. Streamline permit processes. Prioritize research. This should be our priority, for when the next ice age starts we will need all the CO2 possible.
  10. Put fusion power as important for the future but do not rush it, let the research and development be scientifically determined. However, hybrid Fusion -Thorium power generation should be developed.
  11. When Thorium power is built up and has replaced coal and gas fired power plants, then is the time to switch to electric cars, not before.
  12. Standard Nuclear Power plants should be replaced by Thorium powered nuclear plants, since they have only 0,01% of the really bad long term nuclear waste.
  13. Start thinking about recovering CO2 directly from the air and produce aviation fuel. This should be done as Thorium power has replaced coal and gas fired power plants.
  14. This is but a start, but the future is not as bleak as all fearmongers state.

Climate change and our divided nation. Is it a top priority and a threat to mankind as most Democrats believe, or is it not much to worry about, and maybe even beneficial, as most Republicans believe?

We are a divided nation indeed. In no other area is this more apparent than in our attitudes towards Climate Change. Democrats regard is as a top priority more and more, while Republicans maintain it is not much to worry about, way down in the importance of things that need fixing. The PEW research center shows the growing discrepancy:

Republicans live in over 90% of the area of the United States, Democrats are concentrated to urban areas, and in areas of majority black or Hispanic population.

Most of the Democrats live concentrated in Urban areas, and they have already experienced climate change! The Urban Heat Island effect can be as high as 7 degree Celsius on a dog day in August, with humidity to boot!

Most Republicans on the other hand live in rural areas where there are no heat islands. If anything, they are realizing that the winters are less severe, and the summers are not getting hotter. They see good in the climate change, such as we can now feed another 2 billion people on earth, thanks to the fertilizing effect of increasing CO2.

I have put in the reasons why Rising CO2 levels may actually be on balance beneficial : https://lenbilen.com/2020/02/28/climate-change-is-real-and-is-caused-by-rising-co2-levels-leading-to-less-extreme-weather-this-is-on-balance-good-for-the-environment/

Now for the question: Should we expand the burning of fossil fuels?

Even though increasing levels of CO2 is beneficial for the climate we should not expand, but reduce the mining, drilling and fracking of fossil fuels. There are better ways of supply the energy needs of the future. We should leave some of the fossil fuels for our great grandchildren not yet born.

More solar panel farms. This I see as a niche market. China still control 90% of the rare earth metal mining we should only use them in urban areas to lessen the need for an expanded grid. One area that is ideal for more solar panels is to put them up as roofs in open parking lots, especially those that are covered with black asphalt. Parked cars will be cooler and dryer, and it will lessen the urban heat effect.

More wind turbine farms: I love birds, especially large birds such as eagles and raptors. The eagles like to build their aeries on top of the wind turbines, and – you guessed it – they get whacked by the rotor blades. During the Obama administration they upped the yearly allowable kill of bald eagles from from 1100 to 4200. If you kill a golden eagle there is still a 250000 dollar fine. If we increase the number of wind-farms we could run out of large birds.

Hydro-electric power: This is mostly already utilized to capacity. One exception is the river Congo in Africa, still waiting to produce electric power.

Nuclear plants: This is the only realistic solution, but not the common U235 power plants. No, we need a Manhattan-like project to fast track Molten Salt Thorium Nuclear reactors. Here are 25 r3qsons why this is the only realistic solution until we master fusion power, which is always a couple of decades away from commercialization.

Twenty-five reasons to rapidly develop Thorium based Nuclear Power generation.

We need badly to develop and build Thorium based molten salt fast breeder nuclear reactors to secure our energy needs in the future. Lest anyone should be threatened by the words fast breeder, it simply means it uses fast neutrons instead of thermal neutrons, and breeder means it produces more fissible material than it consumes, in the case of Thorium the ratio is about 1.05.

1. A million years supply at today’s consumption levels.

2. Thorium already mined, ready to be extracted.

3. One ten-thousandth of the TRansUranium waste compared to a U-235 based fast breeder reactor.

4. Thorium based nuclear power produces Pu-238, needed for space exploration.

5. Radioactive waste from an LFTR decays down to background radiation in 300 years compared to a million years for U-235 based reactors.

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

7. Produces isotopes that helps cure certain cancers.

8. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe.

9. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors cannot have a meltdown, the fuel is already molten.

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

11. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions.

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

13. Thorium Nuclear Power generators  scale  beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

14. No need for evacuation zones, can be placed near urban areas.

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

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

17. Russia has an active Thorium program.

18. China is having a massive Thorium program.

19. India is having an ambitious Thorium program.

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

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

22. With a Molten Salt Reactor, disasters like Chernobyl are impossible.

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

24. Produces electrical energy at about 4 cents per KWh.

25. Can deplete some of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

 

Climate change is real and is caused by rising CO2 levels, leading to less extreme weather. This is on balance good for the environment!

We have experienced a 50% increase in CO2 levels since the beginning of industrialization. In the last 30 years the level has risen 17%, from about 350 ppm to nearly 410 ppm. Is this good or bad for the climate?

The traditional way to approach the problem of guessing what effect of rising CO2 levels has on the climate is by creating climate models. Thy have recently been adjusted, and they suddenly show a much higher rate of future 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.

https://lenbilen.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/screenshot_2020-02-07-climate-models-are-running-red-hot-and-scientists-done28099t-know-why1.png

The first thing that strikes you is the great discrepancies between the models. The Russian, Chinese and Norwegian models show a much slower temperature rise than  rest of the models. Why is that?

There are two ways to approach this problem. The climate models make certain assumptions about the behavior of the changing atmosphere, and based on these assumptions model future temperature changes. This is the approach from IPCC for the last 32 years. These models are failing miserably when compared to actual temperature changes. This is the traditional way.

The other way i to observe what is actually happening to our temperature over time as the CO2 increases. We have over 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 2018 it was 8C 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 5C and the spring temperature saw an increase of about 2.5C.

The 2020 winter has so far seen an about 5c increase Source: DMI.

This 8C ( or 5C) rise in winter temperatures 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 ranges they absorb.

To better understand the importance of frequency spectra this we will 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 counts 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:

The temperature in the tropics displays no trend whatsoever. It follows the temperature of the oceans, rises in an el niño and falls in a la niña. We are now in the end of an el niño, soon to be followed by a rather strong 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 the same in the Antarctic as it is in the Arctic 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.

A few days ago there was a storm of historic magnitude, filled with moisture going up from the Mexican Gulf through the Atlantic and really sacked Scotland and Norway. The weather warnings called for severe floods and hurricane-like winds:

What happened to the temperature when the storm arrived?

The Arctic temperature above the 80th latitude rose about 12C, from about -30C to about -18C, and most of the moisture snowed out. What happened to the ice cover when the storm arrived? Let’s see the most recent Arctic ice cover.

As the storm arrives, some of the ice breaks up, but at the end of the storm it bounces back, helped with all the snow that just fell. After the snowfall ends the ice formed easily breaks up again.

Is the snow cover increasing in the Arctic? Let us see what the snow statistics show. These are from the Rutgers snow lab.

The fall snow extent is increasing 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 parts 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.

Moving down to the continental U.S. there are even more good news.

The data presented in the next six graphs were extracted from the data available at the NOAA National Data Center Climate Data Online (NNDC CDO) website.

Yes, rain (and snow) are increasing, but it is also raining slightly more often and regularly, so the net result is a slight decrease in flooding.

Of course, this could change in the future, and we need to watch the rain patterns, as they are constantly changing. Building more levees is not always the answer, since this will increase the risk for flooding in other places. It may be necessary to let certain areas, mostly farmland and woodland be flooded from time to time.

The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) uses readily available temperature and precipitation data to estimate relative dryness. It is a standardized index that generally spans -10 (dry) to +10 (wet). The chart shows Continental U.S. is getting wetter, about 0.01 PDSI index per year with the lows trend is getting wetter the fastest. This is good news.

The temperature extremes keep narrowing, the maximum temperatures decrease by 0.033 degree F/decade, but the minimum temperatures increase by 0.309 degree F/decade. This is good, since tornadoes are a result of extreme temperature differences, most often associated with cold fronts.

 The Continental U.S. has not had an EF5 tornado (the most severe) since 2013. Let us hope this trend continues.

Contrary to popular belief, hurricanes making landfall on the U.S. mainland are decreasing slightly, especially major hurricanes.

Taking a closer look at the seasonal temperature trends  we can see that the winter aveerage temperatures are rising by about 0.3F per decade but the summer temperatures rise only about one seventh as much, (0.04F/decade)  .

These are the average temperatures. The minimum average temperatures rise in all seasons, but mostly in the winter,

The maximum temperatures barely budge. They rise in the winter and decrease ever so slightly in the summer.

Watching the warming of the poles, and even the continental U.S., 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, which is accomplished with the fertilizer effect of CO2, the earth can now keep another 2 billion people from starvation, not to mention what it does to plants and wildlife.

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 our great grandchildren, not yet born. In addition I would like to minimize the need for mining, which can be quite destructive. We have immense environmental problems, like water pollution, deforestation, intoxication of the soil, over-fertilization with nitrogen, real air pollutants, such as Sulfur compounds and soot, just to name a few. They have one thing in common: It takes lots of energy to do the cleanup.

The best solution is to switch most electricity generation to Thorium molten salt nuclear power. There are multiple reasons why this should be done as a priority by streamlining regulation and facilitate competition in development of the best solutions to the energy problems.

Twenty-five reasons to rapidly develop Thorium based Nuclear Power generation.

We need badly to develop and build Thorium based molten salt fast breeder nuclear reactors to secure our energy needs in the future. Lest anyone should be threatened by the words fast breeder, it simply means it uses fast neutrons instead of thermal neutrons, and breeder means it produces more fissible material than it consumes, in the case of Thorium the ratio is about 1.05.

1. A million years supply at today’s consumption levels.

2. Thorium already mined, ready to be extracted.

3. One ten-thousandth of the TRansUranium waste compared to a U-235 based fast breeder reactor.

4. Thorium based nuclear power produces Pu-238, needed for space exploration.

5. Radioactive waste from an LFTR decays down to background radiation in 300 years compared to a million years for U-235 based reactors.

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

7. Produces isotopes that helps cure certain cancers.

8. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe.

9. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors cannot have a meltdown, the fuel is already molten.

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

11. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions.

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

13. Thorium Nuclear Power generators  scale  beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

14. No need for evacuation zones, can be placed near urban areas.

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

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

17. Russia has an active Thorium program.

18. China is having a massive Thorium program.

19. India is having an ambitious Thorium program.

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

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

22. With a Molten Salt Reactor, disasters like Chernobyl are impossible.

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

24. Produces electrical energy at about 4 cents per KWh.

25. Can deplete some of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

 

Climate Catastrophe? No, but an environmental challenge. A Limerick.

Is climate change all in the cloud?

Acknowledge it is not allowed.

Settled science, they say.

Buckle up and portray

disaster! Close rank, join the crowd.

I believe in climate change. It is obvious by observing how the climate has changed over the years. Here is a chart of global temperature and CO2 for the last 600 million years.

The chart is smoothed over millions of years, but it shows that the global average tempera ture stabilizes at 22C regardless of CO2 levels, and there is precious little correlation between temperature and CO2 level. Taking a look at the last 450,000 years it shows an interesting pattern:

It shows that more than 90 percent of the time the earth has been colder than today, most of that time in a series of ice ages, interrupted with inter-glacial periods of between 5,000 and 20,000 years.  This inter-glacial period is of interest, since it points to our future – another ice age, the question is: When it will start? According to the Milanković cycles we are still in the moderate temperatures sweetspot, and it will last for another few thousand years, but the trend is down, tne next ice age is inevitable. In fact, except for the little ice age and the time between the Roman warm period and the medieval warm period,  the global temperatures have been higher than now for the last ten thousand years. This shows the temperature from the Greenland ice cores for the last 10000 years:

Greenlandgisp-last-10000-new

All of these changes in climate occurred with a relative constant CO2 level of about 260 ppm!

This time is different; CO2 levels are now over 400 ppm, rising about 2 ppm per year with no end in sight. The question is: Is this increase good or bad? If it is bad, how bad is it going to be?

To answer this question the world spends over 400 billion dollars a year in climate research and are starting to spend much more in climate remediation. Over 30 nations are making climate models trying to predict future temperature trends. Of the models so far all but one fail miserably when compared to what actually is happening. The sole exception is the Russian model which tries to fit their  model to past temperature records rather than postulate that response from CO2 and water vapor are always additive.

There is a better, far simpler way to predict future temperature trends. The reason CO2 and water vapor are not always additive is because water vapor is a condensing gas, sometimes forming clouds, which drastically alter the temperature of the surface. Clouds forming at day reflects a large portion of the sunlight back into space, clouds at night keep the heat in.

Willis Eschenbach has made en excellent analysis of 19 years of data from CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System from NASA). He compensates for the effect of Advection (horizontal heat transfer of energy from one place on earth to another.) The results are startling:

The 3.7 W/m2 is the expected increase of heat retention for a doubling of CO2 as per IPCC  (the U.N  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). A similar result is obtained if one is to include data from HadCRUT (Temperature data from the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office)

This agrees very well with my own, much coarser examination of data, but should include that the expected temperature increase observed for a doubling of CO2 is by no means evenly distributed. In addition, if temperature rises 0,39C there will be  about 2.6 % more water vapor in the air which would rise temperature another 0.35 C. This too is not evenly distributed. Here are the expected result:

In the tropical doldrums there will be no change at all, the water vapor is all dominant and thunderstorms keep the average temperature constant.

In the 10-40 latitude there will be an increase, but increased clouds will moderate the increase except in the most arid deserts that will experience around a 0.9 C increase.

The temperate regions will experience about a 0.4 C increase in the wet areas, and about a 0.6 C in the arid parts.

Most of the increase will be experienced around the poles, with minimum temperatures rising five to ten degrees, but maximum temperatures staying about the same. We are seeing this increase in the Arctic, and the rise is nearly all due to rising winter minimum temperatures.

Source: Danish Meteorology Institute

Why is that? With on the average 2.6 % increase in water vapor there will be an increase in the rainfall,  about 2.6% on average, but since there is no change in the tropics it will be concentrated at the higher latitudes, especially around the poles where it will manifest itself as more snow, and that is the main reason for the increased minimum temperatures. Notice there has been no increase in summer temperatures!

So, how bad is it going to get if nothing is done to stop the increase in CO2?

The temperature difference between poles and equator will be less, which means:

Fewer and less severe hurricanes, less severe tornadoes, less severe winter storms, less droughts.

But there will be about 2% more average cloud cover, more rain and more flooding.

So, with an 0.4C average temperature we will not even be back to the medieval warm period, much less the Roman warm period, not to speak of the Minoan warm period.

The sinking eastern seaboard is a problem that has very little to do with ocean rising, and all to do with tectonic plates movements, which we will have to accept.

Will anything else good come out of this climate change?

Yes, indeed. With a doubling of CO2 there will be a corresponding response from plant life increasing biological productivity 30 to 60%. It is not linear, and above 800 ppm it tapers of for most plant species. But we will be able to feed at least another 3 billion people and keep them from hunger, but also much cattle and wild animals, (yes that includes flies and gnats, but I digress)

https://lenbilen.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/increase.png?w=660

This picture gives us hope for the future. Notice the most significant increase was in Sub-Saharan Africa, western United States, western Australia and western India. These are the areas that need more rain the most!

If increasing CO2 concentration is not the problem, then what is? Let us take a look at the sources  from which U.S. generates electrical energy.

Image result for us electricity generation by source

We live in challenging times indeed, with enormous environmental challenges. It takes a lot of energy to clean up the mess we have generated over the ages. It would be a shame to use up our remaining coal, oil and gas to produce the electricity needed to clean up. Oil coal and gas will eventually be depleted and we need to save some for our great grandchildren so they can enjoy flying like we have become accustomed to. Like the famous conservationist Sarah Palin once said: “for when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Solar generation is about 4 times more expensive (without subsidies) to produce energy than coal and gas, but has important niche applications, such as on roofs for backup in case of short grid failures and for peak power assist. The Amish people have given many practical applications on how to live off the grid.

Wind power is cheaper when the wind blows, but the full 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. Golden Eagles and a few other rare birds have 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 become extinct.

Hydroelectric power is for all practical purpose maxed out, except one large untapped resource; the Kongo river in Africa. Some hydro electrical project do more harm than good, such as the Aswan Dam in Egypt, and some are waiting for the next big earthquake, such as the Three Gorges Dam in China.

Geothermal power is good but difficult and risky to utilize in geologically unstable areas.

Biomass should never be burned for electricity production but be used for soil regeneration to combat erosion. Only polluted biomass such as medical waste and plastics should be incinerated at high temperature, complete with scrubbers to eliminate poisonous gases.

All necessary cleanup and recycling consume a lot of energy, and it has to be generated somehow. We would like save some Coal, Natural Gas and Petroleum for our great grandchildren. This leaves us only

Nuclear power.  After a nearly thirty year hiatus in building new nuclear power plants they are slowly being built again. The permit process is fraught with citizen opposition (NIMBY), very strict bureaucratic delay, first by the Three Mile Island incident, then by the Chernobyl disaster/unintended sabotage, and finally by the Fukushima catastrophe. In addition conventional nuclear power produces large amounts of transuranium waste products that has to be stored for a million years. The Obama administration ended reprocessing of spent fuel rods, so not only must the transuranium products be stored, but also some unused U235. This makes conventional nuclear power using enriched Uranium too expensive to compete against coal or natural gas. But there are powerful commercial interests to keep it this way. After the Westinghouse bankruptcy GE has a virtual monopoly on nuclear power. They are in no hurry to make any changes.

There is a better way: Thorium Nuclear power. The advantages are:

1. A million years supply at today’s consumption levels.

2. Thorium already mined, ready to be extracted.

3. One ten-thousandth of the TRansUranium waste compared to a U-235 based fast breeder reactor.

4. Thorium based nuclear power produces Pu-238, needed for space exploration.

5. Radioactive waste from an LFTR decays down to background radiation in 300 years compared to a million years for U-235 based reactors.

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

7. Produces isotopes that helps cure certain cancers.

8. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe.

9. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors cannot have a meltdown, the fuel ia already molten.

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

11. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions.

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

13. Thorium Nuclear Power generators  scale  beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

14. No need for evacuation zones, can be placed near urban areas.

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

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

17. Russia has an active Thorium program.

18. China is having a massive Thorium program.

19. India is having an ambitious Thorium program.

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

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

22. With a Molten Salt Reactor, disasters like Chernobyl are impossible.

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

24. Produces electrical energy at about 4 cents per KWh.

25. Can deplete some of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

There is no time to waste. This is my suggestion list:

1. Immediately take Thorium off the list of “source materials”. While Thorium is radioactive slightly above background radiation no amount of Thorium can make it go critical, and it cannot be source material for making bombs.

2. Make separate regulations for Thorium based Nuclear plants apart from Uranium plants. One thing that goes away is the need for evacuation zones due to the inherent safety of Thorium Nuclear plants.

3. Declare Thorium Nuclear Power to be the preferred replacement for Coal or Gas powered electric plants.

4. Streamline the permit process, like Uranium powered plants enjoyed when there was a desire to build Nuclear Bombs.

5. Increase research and development into Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactors to speed up their development.

6. Develop hybrid Tokamak powered Thorium reactors like the one Russia is developing to burn off transuraniun  nuclear waste products.

With all this done, I envision coal, gas and biofuel Power stations to be eliminated within ten years, and transuranium waste products to be eliminated within twenty years.

When Coal, gas and biofuel are eliminated as source for Electric Power, then it is time to switch most of the transportation to electric cars and trucks, but not before.

in another twenty years, maybe, just maybe it is time for Fusion Power to take over.

Let us get going!

 

The need to develop Thorium based Nuclear Energy as the major electric energy supply. 8. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe.

Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe. Thorium reactors have a very simple and compact design where gravity is the only thing needed to stop the nuclear reaction. Conventional nuclear reactors depend on external power to shut down after a SCRAM, where poison rods fall down to halt the reaction.  The next figure shows the concept of a Thorium reactor.

The idea is to empty the fissile U-233 core through gravity alone. All that is needed is a melt-plug that is constantly cooled by cold air. In an earthquake the cold air flow automatically shuts off, and since the fuel is already molten, it will then run down into channels like pig-iron into cooling heat exchangers with  water supplied through gravity alone.

As we can see the reactor hardened structure is compact, and can be completely earthquake and tsunami proof. What can be sheared off are the steam pipes and external power, but the reactor shutdown will complete safely without additional power, even if the earthquake is so bad the reactor is broken into pieces.