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.

 

President Trump promises innovative approaches to eliminate nuclear waste. Thorium is the answer! A limerick.

The nuclear waste meant for Yucca

would destine Nevada the sucka

But with Thorium we rid

us of waste that is hid

No need for that waste to be trucka!

Where is the storage for spent nuclear fuel and other nuclear waste now? Look at the map, it is scary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is just the U.S. installations!

Many years ago I studied Engineering at Chalmers’ University in Sweden and I thought I would become a nuclear engineer. Sweden had at that time a peaceful heavy water based nuclear power program together with Canada and India. The advantage with heavy water as moderator is that it can use natural, un-enriched Uranium. One of the end products is of course Plutonium 239, the preferred material to make nuclear bombs, but it could also use Thorium, and the end product is then Plutonium 238, used in space exploration, and we were dreaming big. One of the advantages of Thorium as fuel is that it produces about 0,01%  of trans-Uranium waste compared to Uranium as fuel. About that time the U.S. proposed we should abandon the heavy water program and switch to light water enriched Uranium based nuclear power. They would sell the enriched Uranium, and reprocess the spent fuel at cost. They also had the ideal final resting place for the radioactive waste products in Nevada. This was an offer the Swedish government could not refuse. This was in the 1960’s! India on the other hand did refuse, and they eventually got the nuclear bomb. In disgust I switched my attention back to control engineering.

 

 

 

What did President Trump mean with innovative approaches?

This is where Thorium comes in!

Here is a list of

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.

Look carefully at note 17. We can do better than Russia!

All electric cars in our future? Is there enough mining capacity in the world?

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer is preparing to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on a plan that would fast-track the elimination of nearly every gas-powered vehicle in the country.

The Senate’s top Democrat wants to spend a massive amount of money enticing Americans to exchange their gas-guzzling vehicles for an electric car. Schumer’s proposal, which he announced in a New York Times Oct. 24 editorial , shows Democrats are lurching leftward on the issue.

Sounds good on paper. Sen. Schumer  promises advances in battery technology not invented, much less developed yet. There is not enough mining capacity to provide 65 million or more  electric cars with enough battery capacity to have an acceptable range, using existing technology.

There is another problem with today’s batteries. Cobalt is already in short supply for the manufacturing of electric car batteries currently in the production chain. Half of the world’s mining supply takes place in the Democratic republic of Congo, and

Image result for cobalt supply and demand"

they use a lot of child labor to mine it.

And China is, as always ready to exploit Africa. Never mind the consequences.

And one more thing. Electric cars are for the future. If CO2 is the great driver of environmental destruction, never mind that the increased CO2 is feeding 2 billion more people than before thanks to the greening effect of increased CO2, then we should develop the battery technology first, and when all Coal fired and natural gas fired electric plants are eliminated, then switch to electric cars.

How do you eliminate all Coal and natural gas electric plants? Look at the U.S usage: (Last  year 2016)

Image result for electric production"

We can see that renewable energy will not suffice. The only real answer is to go nuclear, bur we are already the world’s biggest importer of Uranium. (The Uranium One deal, when we sold 20% of our Uranium mining rights to Russia did not help). No, the only real answer is to rapidly develop molten salt Thorium nuclear energy production. There are many advantages to that. Here are 25:

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.

 

 

 

Penn State University Engineering Capstone Showcase, Fall 2019.

Thursday, two days before finals was the PSU Engineering Capstone showcase. Even though I have been a lecturer there for over seven years I didn’t realize it is the largest Capstone showcase of this type in the world.

The set-up began at 10:30 a. m. in the Bryce Jordan main Arena, with 84 senior Capstone projects displaying their results and 21 teams from the Cornerstone projects.

The success of the showcase is in part because of a large number of corporate sponsors, some who sponsor multiple projects. Some of these projects are at the very cutting edge of  science and provide a real challenge for the students.

Some of the projects are international in character. This poses special challenges, for example: Singapore time is exactly 12 hours apart from EST. This is also giving the students a taste of what multinational cooperation entails.

My role as an instructor is quite simple: To convert the engineering students from students to world class engineers in 16 short weeks. One does what one can. The engineering students are organized in teams of 4 or 5 persons. All of my teams this year consisted of engineers from at least 2 engineering majors, so the teams must get to know each other, work together as a functioning team, do the research, build a series of prototypes or a final product as a team, with deadlines to meet. This is quite different from cramming for an exam.

The projects are quite different: This fall I had the opportunity to coach 5 teams:

The first team was tasked to make a knee brace for people recovering from knee replacement surgery. The object was to measure progress in the recovery of the patient in a consistent measurable way. To do this the team affixed four sensors, one for temperature, one sensing pulse, and two gyroscopes, sensing angles and motions. They are connected to a small Arduino Nano computer, collecting all data and storing it on a small SD card.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next team was tasked to make an autonomous, industrial size vacuum cleaner to suck up lime dust in a lime packing facility. It was supposed to have an 8 hour continuous operating time on batteries, and after an 8 hour shift empty itself and go into recharging mode. By the way, lime dust is nasty. This turned to be over ambitious to accomplish on a 1000 dollar budget, which is the limit for the students, so they were left to make a model that did not accomplish anywhere near what the original specification had defined. These are nevertheless great learning experiences for the teams, how to scope projects right, so they are possible to accomplish the deliverables on time and under budget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third team got quite an ambitious task to fulfill.

The object was to automate a lime reactivity test procedure. They were given the exact specifications how it was to be done, fill a thermos with so much temperature controlled water, add a specified amount of lime, measure the temperature rise, document the results, empty the bucket, rinse and repeat. The team fulfilled all the requirements on time and only exceeded the allowable budget by less than 100 dollars, so there was no money left to transport the device to the showcase. Anyhow, this is how it looks:

This would have been a candidate for best project, but I could only nominate two, so I nominated the fourth and the fifth team instead.

The fourth team was charged with automate a leaf cutting procedure. There is a great need to discover diseases in orange groves as early as possible. The apparatus to do the forensic analysis of the leaf had already been developed and used successfully. Via a robotic arm they developed a claw to grab a leaf, cut it from the tree without damaging it and affix it onto the analysis window.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They won third prize for best project!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving the best for last. Penn State University is a world leader in 3D printing  research and development, and the University of Texas Arlington is hosting the fourth annual 3D printed aircraft competition to leverage the design freedoms of 3D printing technologies to improve performance.  The team was tasked by Penn State CIMP-3D to design an aircraft to compete in this competition.  The aircraft will utilize a fixed wing  to stay airborne as long as possible.  The nature of 3D printing allowed the team to rapidly prototype and quickly iterate many different designs.  This will result in some less conventional designs that push the limitations of aircraft design and 3D printing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The team addressed the challenges with gusto, they bought two 3-D printers to facilitate doing as much printing as possible. During the showcase they printed a part of a wing. The printing speed, since the material printed should be as thin as possible, was so slow that the wing part gained only on inch an hour. The team had been printing around the clock for the last few weeks to test a large range of feed stocks suitable for printing model aircraft parts. In the spring another team will continue the project and participate in the competition. May the best design win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It gained quite a lot of interest, and the team had to do one presentation after another, explaining the intricate 3D modeling and how to design lightweight, yet structurally sound devices. A couple of high school teams were in awe, and no wonder, so were the judges, the team won first prize for best project of the showcase!

 

 

 

50 year anniversary since the first moon landing. A Limerick.

https://lenbilen.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/wb.jpg

I remember it like yesterday. We sat up late in the evening of July 20 1969 and watched the first landing on the moon, in real-time and transmitted over all 3 networks. Later President Nixon commented: “This is the greatest week in the history of the world since Creation.” Be that as it may, it was watched by about 500 million people world-wide and the future looked bright. Look at us since then:

Fifty years since “a small step for man.”

It seemed we lost sight of the plan.

Now it’s back to the Moon

with the Gateway, and soon

for with Thorium power, we can.

The ambition is to build a space colony on the moon, have a space station, the “Gateway”, and from there launch unmanned and finally manned Mars missions. A very ambitious program. The only way it is possible by utilizing molten salt Thorium nuclear reactors on the moon to cope with the 14 day nights on the moon. This 10 min video tells it well.

The red dragon of China. World dominance by 2025 averted? A Limerick.

Insane is to praise the Chinese

and say they go green, planting trees;

for they lie, cheat and steal,

human rights they repeal.

We must stand, no more time to appease.

Beijing’s massive tree planting campaign has worsened air pollution in the city, a new study by Chinese scientists suggests. The “Green Great Wall” prevented dispersion of as much as 15 per cent of PM2.5 – health-damaging fine particulates less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter – during a major smog episode in the capital in January 2014, according to researchers. At its peak during the period studied, the PM2.5 reached 350 micrograms per cubic metre of air – 14 times the safety level recommended by the World Health Organisation.

Man-made forest slowed down the winds that otherwise help to disperse smog and turned the city into an enormous trap for air pollutants, according to the scientists.

How can that be?

China burned 51.2% of the world’s coal in 2012, USA produced 12.5%. China’s production was more than four times larger. This has now stabilized and was in 2018 47%, because India and the real developing world are increasing their dependence on coal for electricity production, and also for cooking meals.

This of course is with the Paris accord in mind. U.S. and the European countries are to limit their emissions and slowly diminish them, down to a per capita emission comparable to the mid 1800’s, while China, being a “developing” country is allowed to increase their emissions until 2030, and then stabilize them, not decrease them.

How can they be burning nearly half the world’s coal mined?

One reason is they are the world’s state controlled manufacturing company. They are also responsible for half the world’s Steel production. China produced 50.3% of the world’s crude Steel in 2015, USA produced 4.9%. China’s production was over 20 times larger than the U.S.Some of this steel was dumped below production cost to crush our domestic low end steel industry. An example: Rolled steel to make steel cans were exported at about $200 a ton, the production cost in the U.S. is more like $400 a ton. They can do this, since their environmental regulations only pay lip service to pollution. Remember how Pittsburgh was 60 years ago? China is much worse.

Cement production. China produced 51.4% of the world’s cement in 2015, USA produced 1.8%. China’s production was almost 30 times larger.

It takes a lot of concrete to build artificial islands so they can take control of the South China Sea. But they are building many other things,  Ghost Cities, but also an impressive infrastructure with high speed trains on elevated concrete tracks.

Worrisome as that may be, it isnothing compared to China,s dominance in Rare Earth Metals. Let me explain why rare earth metals are so important to our modern economy.

First, rare earth metals re not rare at all, they exist in small quantities together with Thorium and sometimes Uranium wherever other metals are mined.

The Lanthanides occur in quantity in Monazite, a byproduct of mining Phosphates, but also as a byproduct of mining Titanium, and even from some Iron ores. The rare earth metals are free to begin extraction if it was not for one thing, they also contain Thorium, and Thorium is radio-active, so in the mid 1980’s the NRC and IAEA reclassified Monazite and anything containing Thorium as a “Source Material” and after that it became too costly to comply with all the regulations for nuclear material, so all production of rare earth minerals ceased in the U.S.

China saw an opportunity to grab the world market for Rare Earth Metals and is now controlling about 94% of the supply of all rare earth metals.

So what are rare earth metals used for?

China now has a de facto monopoly on all usages of rare earth metals, and in the case of war or an embargo, not only are our precious cell phones and computers in jeopardy, so is our defense, night vision goggles, aircraft engines, navigation systems, laser guidance, just to name a few uses.

And not only that, we import the completed parts from China, even for our most sophisticated military equipment, such as the F35 aircraft, after telling the Chinese how to make the components. The very same components are now in China’s version of the F35, still under development, but in a year or so China will have their faithful copies made! A F35 aircraft contains about 935 pounds of rare earth metals.

This is clearly unsustainable, so in 2014  Congress tried to pass HR 4883 and         S 2006 to remedy the situation, but the bills got killed in review by none other than the defense department, citing National Security! Our only major rare earth metals mine reopened, only to go bankrupt in 2015. It has since reopened, but the ore is shipped to China for refining! One good point is that the Mountain Pass mine is scheduled to reopen the processing facilities late 2020.

The idea was that we should change our electricity production into renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

Wind power uses a lot of rare earth metals to get the most efficient generators, all made by China. Wind power is about maxed out, that is, if you care about birds, especially eagles and raptors. The allowable bald eagle kill was upped from 1200 to 4200 a year for all U.S. wind turbines during the Obama administration. Killed golden eagles and storks has a S250000 fine, paid by the electricity users, and if we build it out more, we may exterminate some species.

Solar power looked promising until pollution was taken into consideration.  China added 53 GW solar capacity in  2017.  The forecast for this year i 45 GW, and for next year 35 GW.

The efficiency of solar panels are drastically reduced by the layer of soot accumulating daily from air pollution. They have to be cleaned daily with water, and water is in short supply in northern China. The yellow river no longer reaches the ocean during large periods of the year, all water is spoken for. In southern India a solar farm used up so much water that the wells went dry and there was no more water for agriculture and people, except during the monsoon season. Germany has given up on their solar program except for special needs.

Where it rains, China pollutes. The Yang -Tse  river carries nearly half the plastic waste that is dumped in the ocean. It can be stopped, but it will mean a lot of energy, both man-power and electricity  to do all the cleanup.

The solution is found in Thorium power. Here are 25 reasons why we shouls jump on the opportunity to solve the energy crisis:

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.

Did I mention that Thorium based reactors do not produce CO2, and molten salt reactors do not use water?

Oh – and wish President Trump well in our negotiations with China. Pray, if you believe.

 

Climate emergency? No, but plenty of environmental and conservation challenges. Only Thorium Nuclear power can solve the energy challenge.

We live in challenging times. while, in a previous blog it was pointed out  that the” climate catastrophe” is not real and the scientific reasons why for a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration the average temperature rise would be less than 0.4C, almost negligible and well within the Paris accord without changing anything we are doing about CO2 emissions.

If increasing CO2 production 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.

After that, maybe, just maybe it is time for Fusion Power to take over.

Let us get going!