Re: [asa] Nuclear energy

From: John Burgeson (ASA member) <>
Date: Thu Aug 27 2009 - 10:19:53 EDT

Just a note nere, from one who is firmly "on the fence" on this one:

Thorium-based plants don't have the problem of finite uranium supply
-- at least the amounts available seem sufficient for 100-200 years.
So "finite uranium" ought not be part of the argument.

On 8/27/09, Iain Strachan <> wrote:
> Hi,
> I'm definitely pro-nuclear and spent over 20 years working for the UK
> nuclear industry.
> Yet I'm puzzled by Ian's claim below that nuclear energy is sustainable for
> thousands of years. As I understand it this is not the case with
> conventional thermal reactors - world supplies of U235 are not sufficient,
> as I understand it, to last more than 50 years or so.
> A greater degree of sustainability would be via fast reactor technology
> which breeds an alternative fissile material Pu239 from the U238 which
> comprises 99.3% of natural Uranium ore.
> Long term, nuclear fusion is probably sustainable for millions of years.
> However, neither fast reactors nor fusion have been sufficiently developed
> to be available in large amounts in the near future. Virtually all nuclear
> power currently is from thermal PWR reactors, using U235 as the energy
> source.
> I don't know how long the timescale would be to develop large numbers of
> Fast reactors, though it wouldn't be anything like as long as for fusion.
> (Current estimates indicate a date of around 2050? for the first commercial
> fusion reactor).
> I would be interested to know if Ian has some more optimistic projections
> for the future of the nuclear industry.
> Regards,
> Iain
> On Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 1:32 PM, Randy Isaac <> wrote:
>> Rich:
>> Ian, if you could wave a magic wand, what policies, regulations, or
>> legislation would you change in order to maximize nuclear energy in the
>> U.S.?
>> Ian:
>> In short, give nuclear energy the same tax credits and other incentives
>> that are given to other carbon-free energy. Nuclear does not need big
>> federal subsidies to compete economically. In fact the federal aid to
>> nuclear over the past 25 years has been less even than that to fossil
>> energy, in the form of various tax credits etc. Actually the 2005 Energy
>> Policy Act does most of what is needed for nuclear, but so far the
>> provisions have not been fully funded by congress and DOE has been very
>> slow
>> to put the regulations in place to implement them.
>> An example of what is being done wrong, is that the carbon trading scheme
>> that Congress has been discussing (although has not passed I think) is
>> being
>> combined with a "renewable energy" mandate that requires a certain
>> fraction
>> of electricity generation to be by "renewable" sources. That sounds good
>> until you find out that nuclear is specifically excluded from that
>> mandate.
>> It does not count as "renewable". That's crazy. What ought to count is not
>> some nominal "renewable" rating but __sustainability__. Nuclear is
>> sustainable for thousands of years. Much "renewable" energy is not in fact
>> sustainable. For example much biomass energy is not sustainable;
>> specifically bio-ethanol is definitely not sustainable, and probably uses
>> more energy than it generates, yet it would be included. Trouble is that
>> quite a number of now powerful politicians have made it their mission to
>> stop nuclear energy or nuclear waste disposal for so long that they can't
>> bring themselves to reevaluate whether the new situation ought to dictate
>> a
>> different view.
>> Peace,
>> Ian Hutchinson
>> **<>
> --
> -----------
> Non timeo sed caveo
> (\__/)
> (='.'=)
> (")_(") This is a bunny copy him into your signature so he can gain world
> domination
> -----------

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Received on Thu Aug 27 10:21:02 2009

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