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Crude estimate: How many nuclear plants would it take to fuel 100M cars?

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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 10:15 AM
Original message
Crude estimate: How many nuclear plants would it take to fuel 100M cars?
I don't think we really want cars for the long term. I don't think we can afford them.

But if we do want them, and we manage somehow to afford them, it's increasingly clear that gasoline from oil and FT fuels from coal cannot not be sustained for very long.

Recently I've been reviewing the latest in thermochemical hydrogen producing cycles. Most people who are familiar with my thinking, recognize, that I am not fond of the "hydrogen economy," especially the dangerous idea of putting hydrogen in automobiles, which is just short of completely crazy.

However, I do view hydrogen as a useful reaction intermediate for the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide (or carbon monoxide) and so the question is, where would hydrogen come from?

Wind and solar power can be modified to produce hydrogen of course, via electrolysis, but electrolysis is a dirty and inefficient means of producing hydrogen in general, and probably such an effort would be characterized by low return on investment owing to fixed costs being constant while production is intermittent.

Nuclear thermochemical hydrogen is much more promising. Plants can run at close to 100% of capacity loading and thermal efficiencies of close to 60% can be achieved.

The National Academy of Sciences has published a review on the "hydrogen economy" that is available on line. I will point out some salient remarks. First I refer readers to figure G-6 which gives graphically the amount of energy that must be used to produce 1.0 kg of hydrogen at various temperatures. We see at the low end of the temperatures available to High Temperature Gas Cooled reactors, 280 MJ of energy is required for each kg of hydrogen.

http://darwin.nap.edu/books/0309091632/html/213.html

Next we see the thermal efficiencies of hydrogen cycle reactors given on page 215 in figure G-8.

http://darwin.nap.edu/books/0309091632/html/215.html

I will take the efficiency as 55% for rough purposes.

Now crudely, we see the claim that a plant should make 1,200,000 kg of hydrogen per day to power 2 million cars.

http://darwin.nap.edu/books/0309091632/html/45.html

From the above figures, ignoring the energy losses that may come from further chemical processing, such as might be involved in the hydrogenation of carbon dioxide to make DME - a safer fuel - we see that the powering of 2 million cars in this scheme is about 340 trillion joules. Translated into power (86400 seconds a day) we see that is roughly equivalent to a thermal output of 4000 MW. This is slightly larger than the largest of modern nuclear reactors, which more typically are about 3000 MW(th).

To fuel 100 million cars, we would need 200,000 MW of thermal energy to make the hydrogen. Assuming 55% of efficiency for the reactors, 360,000 MW. This means that about 120 would be required.

The calculation is "back of the envelope," but I thought it might be useful for a frame of reference. I note that this is not something that could be accomplished in a very short time frame, a frame in which the severe consequences of global climate change will come home to roost, but I thought I'd throw it out there.
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BlueEyedSon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 10:25 AM
Response to Original message
1. kick
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mike_c Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 10:28 AM
Response to Original message
2. and those 120 reactors would be producing power ONLY...
...for fueling vehicles, nothing else. Further, we would need probably 20 percent or so redundancy because not all reactors will be online at peak efficiency all the time-- I have no specific basis for that number, just pulled it out of thin air-- so in reality it would be more like 144 reactors. Again, just to fuel vehicles, applies only to the U.S., and already falls somewhat short of actual need:

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), at the end of 1999, there were 132.4 million passenger cars, 75.4 million light trucks (minivans, SUVs, pickup trucks, etc.) for a total of 207.8 million vehicles. There were another 4.2 million motorcycles.

This excludes heavy trucks and buses.

BTS
"Number of U.S. Aircraft, Vehicles" (July, 2002)
http://www.bts.gov/publications/nts/html/table_01_09.html

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) has higher numbers, using R.L. Polk registration data. These numbers include all vehicles, even the commercial trucks excluded above. NADA also has data by state:

1999: 209.5 million
2001: 216.7 million


Anyone who thinks this could be done with fission reactors in America-- let alone globally-- is dreaming.

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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. The calculation assumes 100% capacity loading.
High temperature reactors are designed for continuous refueling and can indeed run at close to that capacity.

Most modern nuclear reactors run in the United States at capacity loads well above 90%. Many run at 100% during years during which they are not refueled.

Here are the figures for the Calvert Cliffs reactors in Maryland for instance, showing a range of typical operating loads as a percentage of rated capacity.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/at_a_glance/reactors/calvertcliff.html

Just about anything is impossible in the United States which is a nation that lives and breathes NIMBY and denial. Future generations will indeed pay for our distractibility and our lives of fantasy. I fully expect that the United States is in serious decline, but one hopes that some portion of the world will nonetheless not fall into the abject poverty we will experience.

However this approach is being taken very seriously in Asia. Pilot plants for this purpose are already being constructed in China and full scale plants are expected in a few years.
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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 12:10 PM
Response to Original message
4. No one will be able to afford nuclear hydrogen
Thanks to the GOP Nuclear Giveaway Energy Bill of 2005 the taxpayers will be spending $1.25 billion to build two demonstration thermo-chemical hydrogen reactors at the Idaho National Laboratory.

one with a thermal capacity of 200 kW

the other with a themal capacity of 500 kW

These things will cost ~$1.8 million per kW (assuming no cost overruns)

To build 360 GW of thermo-chemical reactor capacity would cost ~$640 trillion

Furthermore electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen is NOT dirty.

And finally, putting "dangerous" hydrogen in automobiles is as "dangerous" as putting "dangerous" gasoline in automobiles.
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 12:26 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Chlor-alkali processing
is used to produce chlorine (for paper bleaching for example) not hydrogen.

Mercury electrodes are NOT used by PEM or molten carbonate electrolyzers to produce hydrogen from solar/wind electricity. The only products of these processes are hydrogen and oxygen.

http://www.humboldt.edu/~serc/trinidad.html

These processes are not "dirty" in the least and any suggestion to the contrary is dissembling nonsense (that might fool people with no science background - but not everyone is impressed by red herring pseudoscience)...









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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 02:01 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. OK, whatever you say.
:eyes:

Your link represents, in case you didn't notice, someone's research project. It is not a commercial process by any means. As I said, the remarks characterize a lack of familiarity with commercial processes.

In fact, the link says the project has been operating since 1991. It's rather telling that the system is still a laboratory plaything.

In any case, as detailed in the National Academies of Science book, the world will probably be producing loads and loads of nuclear hydrogen should humanity survive global climate change, an increasingly unlikely bet.

I imagine that as has been the case for the last 50 years, the solar strategy will not be competitive and will largely reside in the general category of "wishful thinking," and toys for rich boys. To the extent that it is competitive, however, it is certainly welcome. Nobody is trying to stop solar hydrogen; if it were a viable strategy, no one would object. I just wouldn't bet the farm, or for that matter, my children's lives, on it.

Personally, I'm ambivalent about new means of producing automobile fuels. I hope that the use of automobiles is diminished and not maintained at current levels. I certainly don't think automobiles are good things for the environment. They might be somewhat acceptable on a planet with less than a billion people, but they are almost certainly not acceptable on a planet with more than six billion people.

During the 1970's I had a one man revolution against the internal combustion engine and for two years did not spend more than 10 minutes in an automobile. I biked everywhere. (This was easy to do since I lived in the Los Angeles area at the time.) It was spectacularly good for my health. Now that I am old and sedentary, I am nostalgic for that strength, although I confess I often give in these days to the convenience of the automobile.
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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Norsk Hydro has built and operated MW scale
molten carbonate hydrogen electrolyzers.

Norway uses wind power, electrolyzers and H2 fuel cells to proved electricity to the residents of the island of Utsira - and plans to utilize this scheme to provide power to other island communities as well.

It's more than just a "research project".

The Danes have investigated the use of electrolysis to produce H2 using wind power as well (to be used at existing gas-fired co-generation plants).

Currently, the cost of H2 produced from Danish wind power is ~2-3 times that of natural gas in the EU.

However, as the EU is a major importer of NAG from Russia and those supplies are NOT secure, energy security issues may trump the current economics of H2 vs NG and these schemes may be implemented on an accelerated schedule...

These things exist today (unlike the tiny thermochemical hydrogen reactors that will be built at Idaho National Laboratory)...
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 04:55 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Really? On an exajoule scale?
Edited on Wed Mar-29-06 04:59 PM by NNadir
Why do I suspect/know that the Chinese nuclear pilot plant will produce more hydrogen that the entire industrial wind solar power in the rest of the world?

Oh, I know. Because as usual, power and energy are confused. "MW scale," indeed.

Since this claim is unreferenced, we have no information whatsoever on the capacity loading of this alleged system.

But we can google it based on the rarity of the word Utsira. Um, let's see, here we go:

The Utsira project is outstanding in that ten households will receive all their electricity from renewable sources in a closed system. The power consumption of the islanders varies, but the stored hydrogen will ensure that sufficient renewable power can be generated at any time even when consumption is high and wind activity is minimal.


http://www.hydro.com/en/our_business/oil_energy/new_energy/hydrogen/winds_change.html

Ten households. That is certainly representative of the needs of 6 billion people, the industrial experience of ten households.

As long as the renewable industry holds up the experience of ten households as an "industrial" process, it ain't going anywhere.

I have warned repeatedly that the nuclear motor fuels are no slam dunk. However nuclear power is produced on an exajoule scale, and the combined production of solar/wind has yet to produce a single exajoule worldwide. The technology will be piloted in China next year, and the pilot will undoubtedly produce hydrogen for a hell of a lot more than 10 households.
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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 06:36 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. There are no pilot Chinese hydrogen-producing reactors in the offing
that will "produce more hydrogen the entire industrial wind solar power in the rest of the world"

http://www.uic.com.au/nip60.htm

They don't exist...(unless, of course, they are "Super Secret")...

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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 07:07 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Not really secret at all. It's part of the HTR-10 program.
A 10 MWt high-temperature gas-cooled demonstration reactor (HTR-10), having fuel particles compacted with graphite moderator into 60mm diameter spherical balls (pebble bed) was commissioned in 2000 by the Institute of Nuclear Energy Technology (INET) at Tsinghua University near Beijing. It reached full power in 2003 and has an outlet temperature of 700-950C and may be used as a source of process heat for heavy oil recovery or coal gasification. It is similar to the South African PBMR intended for electricity generation. It was subject to a test of its intrinsic safety in September 2004 when as an experiment it was shut down with no cooling. Fuel temperature reached less than 1600C and there was no failure.

Initially the HTR-10 has been coupled to a steam turbine power generation unit, but second phase plans are for it to operate at 950C and drive a gas turbine, as well as enabling R&D in heat application technologies. This phase will involve an international partnership with Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), focused particularly on hydrogen production.

The demonstration HTR-PM of 200 MWe (450 MWt) is to be built 2006-10 at Weihai in Shandong province, driving a steam turbine at about 40% thermal efficiency. China Nuclear Engineering & Construction will have a 35% stake and Tsinghua University INET 5%. Huaneng, one of China's major generators, is the lead organization in the consortium with 50% share. Projected cost is US$ 375 million, with the aim for later units being US$ 1500/kWe. The licensing process is under way with NNSA.



The HTR-10 was brought up to 1600oC. The purpose was not to boil water.

http://www.uic.com.au/nip68.htm

To be aware of the program, all one need do is to know what one is talking about.

The reactor was 10MW. Given that renewable hydrogen production is considered "industrial" when it powers 10 homes, as soon as the HTR-10 is hooked to a process loop, it will easily exceed worldwide renewable (hydro excluded) hydrogen production.
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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 07:36 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. They "may" use it for COAL gasification to produce hydrogen
Edited on Wed Mar-29-06 07:37 PM by jpak
or heavy OIL recovery.

NOT for thermal decomposition of water to produce hydrogen.

The 1600 C spike occurred after the helium loop was shut - i.e., it was not operating as a thermal source for any other application - it was a safety test.

(and I'll believe these things are "safe" when they test them with air instead of helium - i.e., helium loop failure with atmospheric oxygen entering the reactor at full power. Graphite tends to undergo something called "combustion" at those temps - re: Chernobyl)





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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 09:30 PM
Response to Reply #13
20. Whatever. I am familiar with the work, but yes there are many
applications for process heat that are being explored with the HTR-10. Thermochemical hydrogen (with KAERI) is just one such application to be tested on this pilot reactor.

As for you, you will never believe that nuclear reactors are safe under any circumstances, since you don't understand the first thing about them and because they generate mystical fear in you. This is a matter of dogma for you.

I on the other hand, do understand nuclear reactors and my fear centers on global climate change.

For the record the HTR-10 type reactors, which are wasteful in the sense that they are once through fuel types, rely on SiC not graphite. SiC and graphite are very different things. SiC, silicon carbide, is the refractory out of which things like the containers for molten steel. It is not flammable.



http://www.ceramicmaterials.saint-gobain.com/?open=refractory

The reason helium is used in the core has nothing to do with fire safety and everything to do with the heat transfer properties of helium, helium's zero neutron capture cross section and its high neutron scatter potential which leads to efficient neutron moderation. Helium-4 is the idea neutron moderator in fact.

One of the big problems with silicon carbide is its extreme stability, making it difficult to get at the valuable constituents in nuclear fuel, the plutonium, the transplutonium actinides, the precious metals. I personally prefer reactors that have open fuel cycles, since I think we should be using all of these materials.
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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-30-06 12:24 PM
Response to Reply #20
25. PBMR fuel is made from pyroltic graphite - it's the moderator
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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-30-06 02:51 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. that should read "pyrolytic graphite" n/t
n/t
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-30-06 06:09 PM
Response to Reply #25
29. Water is made from hydrogen.
Thanks for the chemistry lesson. While I might quibble with the difference between a graphite coating and silicon carbide matrixes, it would serve no useful point, since clearly we believe what we want to believe. I believe the eskom site is chock full of information, but I suppose one sees what one wants to see.

No matter. The world has rejected the anti-nuclear argument and it is of unfortunate historical interest now. All the chanting in the world will not stop it, as the wolf is really at the door.

This reminds me.

You know, if the right series of events takes place, there are lots of ways that the water in hydrogen could be made into dangerous gases that could explode on contact with air. Not only that, the compound that is made from it has choked off the air of many thousands of people. In fact, this dangerous compound has been known to solidify and sink big ships, really big ships, Titanic ships.

I will assume that you have readily available, on a 440 exajoule scale, a form of energy with NO safety concerns.

I repeat, in case you don't get it (and of course I know you don't): There is no such thing as risk free energy. There is only risk minimized energy. That energy is nuclear energy.

By the way, although I know that the likelyhood of a fatal pebble bed reactor failure is the same as the likelihood that the hydrogen storage system for 10 households in Norway will lead to a grand renewable nirvana (close to zero), I am not thrilled with PBR's. They are chiefly being advanced to address what is hardly a realistic concern, that nuclear power is unsafe. It is not unsafe. It kills no one, while global climate change and air pollution kill millions.

I believe that the safest option for the world future, if there is a world future, is nuclear recycling. So, by the way does the rest of the world which is why the world is building nuclear reactors on an exajoule scale.

I predict that the number of PBR's that are ultimately built will be less than 100, including the 25 South Africa intends to build. There will be many thousands of high temperature reactors built if humanity survives global climate change, but the PBR is at best a short termer. It's a Gen III type, but most of the high temperature reactors to be built will be the Gen IV types. It's too difficult to recycle the fuel.

My guess is that the molten salt reactor will become increasingly important as the world's plutonium isotopically matures, as surely it will. I'd bet money on it.

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JohnWxy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-30-06 02:29 PM
Response to Reply #20
27. PBMR accident in Germany - PBMRs are NOT accident proof
Edited on Thu Mar-30-06 03:22 PM by JohnWxy
Just exploring the links provided by Jpak. Thanks.

http://www.tmia.com/industry/pebbles.html

What's Wrong With the Modular Pebble Bed Reactor?

The pebble bed reactor is being touted as nearly "accident proof." It is being hailed as the savior of the nuclear industry. Three Mile Island Alert opposes this reactor design because of its inherent dangerous safety defects.


1. It has no containment building.

2. It uses flammable graphite as a moderator.

3. It produces more high level nuclear wastes than current nuclear reactor designs.

4. It relies heavily on nearly perfect fuel pebbles.

5. It relies heavily upon fuel handling as the pebbles are cycled through the reactor.

6. There's already been an accident at a pebble bed reactor in Germany due to fuel handling problems.


~~
2. The uranium is covered by a layer of graphite. The graphite is covered by several other layers of materials including a silicon carbide. The graphite could burn if defects in the fuel defeat the outer coverings. The industry acknowledges that there is approximately 1 defect per pebble associated with these layers. There are approximately 370,000 pebbles in a pebble bed reactor. One tennis ball sized pebble comes out the bottom of the reactor every 30 seconds. It can be returned to the top of the reactor for additional use.
~~
4. The industry acknowledges that "fuel pebble manufacturing defects are the most significant source of fission product release." Recent history shows that some companies have falsified fuel quality. In fact, there have been instances of fuel sabotage and tampering over the last few decades. Germany and Japan have shut down plants or refused fuel shipments once the problems were discovered. The industry can't produce "defect-free" fuel and therefore it is a certainty that a pebble bed reactor will experience an accident. The industry acknowledges that there is approximately 1 defect per pebble associated with these layers.





http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/pbmrfactsheet.htm



THE PBMR: "OLD WINE IN A NEW BOTTLE"

The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) is being re-introduced in an industry effort to revive an all-but-moribund nuclear power technology. The PBMRs basic design concept, the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR), has been commercially abandoned time and again without tangible benefit over the past thirty years in England, France, Germany and with the 1967 and 1989 closures of the Peach Bottom Unit 1 and Fort St. Vrain reactors in the United States. Small HTGR non-power research reactors currently operate in Japan and China. For as many years, the concept has been offered as an "inherently safe" design.

~~

NO REACTOR CONTAINMENT BUILDING AND REDUCED SAFETY SYSTEMS CUT PBMR COSTS

Unlike light water reactors that use water and steam, the PBMR design would use pressurized helium heated in the reactor core to drive a series of turbine compressors that attach to an electrical generator. The helium is cycled to a recuperator to be cooled down and returned to cool the reactor while the waste heat is discharged to the environment. Designers claim there are no accident scenarios that would result in significant fuel damage and catastrophic release of radioactivity.

These industry safety claims rely on the heat resistant quality and integrity of the tennis ball-sized graphite fuel assemblies or "pebbles," 400,000 of which are continuously fed from a fuel silo through the reactor "little by little" to keep the reactor core only marginally critical. Each spherical fuel element has an inner graphite core embedded with thousands of smaller fuel particles of enriched uranium (up to 10 %) encapsulated in multi-layers of non-porous hardened carbon. The slow circulation of fuel through the reactor provides for a small core size that minimizes excess core reactivity and lowers power density, all of which is credited to safety.

However, so much credit is given to the integrity and quality control of the coated fuel pebbles to retain the radioactivity that no containment building is planned for the PBMR design. While the elimination of the containment building provides a significant cost savings for the utilityperhaps making the design economically feasiblethe trade-off is public health and safety.

The protective containment building also is nixed because it would hinder the designs passive cooling feature of the reactor core through natural convection (air cooling). Exelon also proposes a dramatic reduction in additional reactor safety systems and procedures (i.e. no emergency core cooling system and a reduced one-half mile emergency planning zone as compared to a 10-mile emergency planning zone for light water reactors) to provide for further reducing PBMR construction and operation costs.

To date, however, Exelon has not submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission descriptions of challenges that could lead to a radiological accident such as a fire that ignites the combustible graphite loaded into the core. Fire and smoke then become the transport vehicle for radioactivity released to the environment from damaged fuel.

In addition, the lack of containment would require 100%-perfect quality control in the manufacture of the fuel pelletsan impossible goal. Imperfections in fuel pellet manufacture could lead to higher radiation releases during normal operation than is the case with conventional reactors.
~~
~~
In 1985, the experimental THTR-300 PBMR on the Ruhr in Hamm-Uentrop, Germany was also offered as accident proof--with the same promise of an indestructible carbon fuel cladding capable of retaining all generated radioactivity. Following the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident and graphite fire in Ukraine, the West German government revealed that on May 4, the 300-megawatt PBMR at Hamm released radiation after one of its spherical fuel pebbles became lodged in the pipe feeding the fuel to the reactor. Operator actions during the event caused damage to the fuel cladding.

Radioactivity was released with the escaping helium and radioactive fallout was deposited as far as two kilometers from the reactor. The fallout in the region was high enough to initially be blamed on Chernobyl. Government officials were then alerted by scientists in Freiburg who reported that as much as 70 % of the regions contamination was not of the type of radiation leaking hundreds of miles away in Ukraine. Dismayed by an attempt to conceal the reactor malfunction and confronted with mounting public pressure in light of the Chernobyl accident only days prior, the state ordered the reactor to close pending a design review.

Continuing technical problems including a lack of quality control resulting in damage to unused fuel pebbles and radiation-induced bolt head failures in the reactors gas channels resulted in the units closure in late 1988. Citing doubts about reliability, the government refused to further subsidize utility funding and instead approved plans for decommissioning the reactor.







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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 07:19 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. Here's some links on MW scale hydrogen electrolyzers and fuel cells
Norsk Hydro has been using electrolysis for decades to produce hydrogen using hydropower....

google up this presentation...

Microsoft PowerPoint - Hydrogen som fremtidens energibr.ppt

using these key words...

hydrogen som fremtidens norsk hydro

***highly recommended reading***

NH's hydrogen electrolyzers (for NH3 production) have a combined rating of 150 MW...they are not "dirty"...and hydrogen from renewable electricity CAN be produced at "exajoule scales"...

and MW scale fuel cells have indeed been built and operated...

http://americanhistory.si.edu/fuelcells/basics.htm
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 07:46 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Can or is?
Edited on Wed Mar-29-06 07:47 PM by NNadir
We often hear what renewable energy can do, but seldom what it is doing.

The exception of course, would be the case of hydropower, which is a well developed exajoule scale form of energy. One of the scams of the renewable (can live without nuclear) arguments is to lump itself with hydropower.

By the way, at 100% capacity loading, running continuously 24/7/365.25 (something neither wind nor solar ever does) represents 0.005 exajoules approximately.

So making a claim about exajoules is hardly verified by citing a 150 MW plant.

The fact is that less than 5% of the world's current hydrogen is made by electrolysis, mostly as a by-product of the chloralkali industry, in which it is a by-product.

In any case, the renewable energy industry - not counting hydro but including biomass, solar (tiny) wind, geothermal - has barely managed to scrape together a single exajoule worldwide. Note that this is not for the purpose of hydrogen production but for all purposes. This is why one sees reports of ten houses running off hydrogen being reported as "industrial." There isn't that much else to talk about.

Anything beyond that miserable figures for total renewable production would be greatly welcome - but I wouldn't be my next month's food budget on it being available. Usually the renewable promise is just that, promise. Thus the conceit that one can in fact eliminate both fossil fuels and nuclear energy is ridiculous.
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Dead_Parrot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 08:20 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. Hmmm...
Edited on Wed Mar-29-06 08:21 PM by Dead_Parrot
That the electrolysers eat 150MW is not as important as the current you get out of the reformers. Interestingly, your link talks about MW salt and acid fuel cells, not hydrogen: Electrolysers using 150MW to generate hydrogen really aren't going to help them much at all.

All of which is pissing in the ocean. when we have 500MW cells with a capacity of several TWh, then we're in business....
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JohnWxy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 08:53 PM
Response to Reply #4
17. NOthing like solid empirical data rather than extrapolations!
Edited on Wed Mar-29-06 08:55 PM by JohnWxy
JESUS!


"Thanks to the GOP Nuclear Giveaway Energy Bill of 2005 the taxpayers will be spending $1.25 billion to build two demonstration thermo-chemical hydrogen reactors at the Idaho National Laboratory.

one with a thermal capacity of 200 kW

the other with a themal capacity of 500 kW

These things will cost ~$1.8 million per kW (assuming no cost overruns)"
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JohnWxy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 08:43 PM
Response to Original message
16. Better way of supplying hydrogen for fuel cell cars.
"I am not fond of the "hydrogen economy," especially the dangerous idea of putting hydrogen in automobiles, which is just short of completely crazy."

You'll be glad to know there is a superior way of supplying hydrogen to fuel cells. It involves using hydrocarbons such as ethanol. Much safer than using free hydrogen. Infrastructure for distributing ethanol already in place, no need to build facilities for handling dangerous free hydrogen.

see below for link:

Ethanol & Fuel Cells: Converging Paths of Opportunity
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rfkrfk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 09:19 PM
Response to Original message
18. 42
assume electric battery cars, 30 miles per day, 100 million cars
3 miles per kilowatt-hour, typical nuke is twin 500,000 kilowatts,

100m . 30 = 3 billion miles per day

3 billion, divided by electrical milage of 3, -->
1 billion kilowatt-hours per day

1 billion divide by 24h, --> 41.7 million kilowatts

41.7 nuke installations

total US capacity, --> 1000 million kilowatts

yearly total of 365 billion kilowatt-hours would be one-tenth
of current yearly US electricity output

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Dead_Parrot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 09:27 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. You've caught back-of-envelope syndrome...
:D Nice one.
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rfkrfk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-29-06 10:10 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. zero .additional. nuke plants would be needed
Edited on Wed Mar-29-06 10:14 PM by rfkrfk
if charging would be done 0ff-peak

electrical rates would probably go down,
because of the load leveling effect

cost of coal to make one kilowatt-hour of electricity,
just over one cent, might be temporarily higher
do to hurricane Katrina effects

it takes 45 kilowatt-hours to make the {water to hydrogen}
energy in one gallon of gasoline,,,, for electric-batt cars,
ten cents of coal gets you thirty miles

due the math

does not apply in Europe, where the mentally ill are buying natural gas
from the Russians

edit spelling
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-30-06 08:40 AM
Response to Reply #18
22. Missing in this calculation is the cost of batteries for 100M cars.
The fact is that these back of the envelope calculations (mine included) are somewhat ridiculous in the sense that we have no time for any of this to happen.

I also note that it is not possible to increase utilization of nuclear energy by charging electric cars at night. Almost all nuclear stations are already baseload systems that run at the same level at night as they do during daylight hours, close to full capacity.

I will say this: Coal generated electricity is not environmentally acceptable under any circumstances. There is no way to make it environmentally acceptable. Coal is a game of Russian roulette with six bullets in six chambers.
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4dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-30-06 08:48 AM
Response to Original message
23. more hydrogen poppycock!
The hydrogen car and the belief in one, only goes to show how much in DENIAL you are about the upcoming energy crisis..

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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-30-06 10:07 AM
Response to Reply #23
24. He's not proposing a hydrogen car...
he's proposing hydrogen as a reactant for producing other fuels.
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JohnWxy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-30-06 01:44 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. Phantom, he apparently doesn't understand the difference between
fuel cells using use of free hydrogen and using hydrocarbons to supply the hydrogen to the fuel cell via a reformer. Ethanol To Power The Future Of Hydrogen Fuel Cells



Ethanol To Power The Future Of Hydrogen Fuel Cells


Palo Alto - Mar 30, 2004

~~

"Biomass material-based fuel cells are a better solution than power fuel cells since hydrogen is expensive and dangerous to handle," notes Technical Insights Analyst Al Hester. "More research should be devoted to ethanol since it is environmentally friendly and based on renewable resources."

Conversion of biomass materials such as ethanol into hydrogen is a more cost-efficient method to power fuel cells. Researchers believe that inter-metallic compounds could be used beneficially in fuel cell electrodes to oxidize ethanol. These materials are not alloys but have ordered structures wherein atoms are very specifically arranged.


http://www.acta-nanotech.com/


Acta - Technology to Make the Hydrogen World a Reality
The hydrogen revolution is set to profoundly change our lives and those of future generations. It will transform the way we use portable devices and will provide clean, efficient power long after the worlds fossil fuel supplies have been exhausted.

Acta has launched a pioneering technology that will help unlock the potential of fuel cells and the hydrogen economy. Acta has patented a unique family of platinum-free catalysts, which offer new possibilities in fuel cell design, in the supply of hydrogen gas and in the application of new fuel options.

Powering fuel cells

At Acta, we have initially applied our technology to develop catalysts for fuel cells. Our new HYPERMEC catalysts overcome the commercial barriers that have previously prevented the full potential of fuel cell technology from being realised, by allowing the use of a range of new fuels in fuel cells, including ethanol and ethylene glycol. HYPERMEC catalysts also offer potential to increase the durability and reduce the engineering cost of the fuel cell. This means fuel cell makers can now deliver what the consumer has been waiting for: an affordable, durable fuel cell which uses a practical, safe and environmentally friendly fuel.

Making hydrogen

Actas catalysts can also be used to reform hydrogen from a wide range of fuels at lower temperatures than have been achieved before, allowing the safe delivery of pure hydrogen to fuel cells without the problems of hydrogen storage or extremely high temperatures.



Acta anticipates having fuel cells suitable for cars in 10 yrs.







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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-31-06 04:06 AM
Response to Reply #23
30. I have long argued against hydrogen cars, and hydrogen as a
consumer fuel in general.

However hydrogen is currently used on an industrial scale for fuel processing. Today most of the hydrogen made, which is used primarily in the refinery industry is made from steam reforming of natural gas. Historically it was made on an industrial scale via coal reforming with water. Small amounts have always been made by electrolysis.

It is an old industry on which many technologies not only fuels, including agrochemicals, depend.

Many new methods are proposed, including biofuel reforming and more importantly, thermal reforming through catalytic cycles.

If it is used to hydrogenate carbon dioxide, a technology that is well known and characterized, one can make methanol or dimethyl ether DME. The latter represents the most benign fuel possible. It can service the home heating industry, the transportation injury, work as a refrigerant, is non-toxic and essentially non polluting. It has a high critical temperature and can be provided and transported as a pressurized liquid or used as a gas. It produces almost no particulates, no nitrogen oxides and no sulfur compounds when burned.

Thus if you want me to refer to a "hydrogen" economy - I am really referring to a DME economy. That should be clear from my first post. In that post I used "hydrogen economy" energy accounting - but it was a crude calculation, not an exact one and the hydrogen was being treated for reference - since the National Academy of Science was offering the figures.

I do not expect that the building of such infrastructure will be easy, or that it will represent a slam dunk. I have some sympathy with peak oilers and their dire warnings, though I think that the environmental consequences are much more important than the social and economic consequences - I am happy to see the oil go ultimately.
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rfkrfk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-31-06 04:50 AM
Response to Reply #30
31. what infrastructure is needed?
propane is sold at grocery stores.

as soon as China, India, etc,
find out that DME can be made from coal,
off they go

exporting DME, makes more finantial sense, that
importing petroleum.
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-31-06 06:42 AM
Response to Reply #31
32. China is already building coal based DME plants.
Sad but true.
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