Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Fission

We generate some energy from nuclear fission, but that is not a viable solution for generating the amount of energy we need because

  • The current nuclear power plant designs are not safe.
  • it produces waste that is incomprehensibly poisonous.
  • It only uses 3% of the energy available from the fuel.  That's even worse than a 1960s gasoline engine.
  • It has been around more than 40 years and still requires government subsidies including free liability insurance and construction loan guarantees.

The current way nuclear power plants are made is inherently unsafe:  They are just too unstable and can't be shut down quick enough to ensure the core doesn't melt down and explode.  Also, the industry has zero credibility with regard to safety concerns, because they have steadfastly maintained that accidents like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi could never happen.  They are three time losers in the credibility department.  One has to conclude they at best they don't know what they are talking about and at worst, they have been intentionally lying to make a buck.  On paper, newer designs from Westinghouse and the French are a little bit less dangerous than reactors built in the 60s, but these designs are untested and the basic reactors are still unstable.

Waste from the current Uranium fueled power plants remains dangerous for up to a million years!  [Inferred from Technical Bases for Yucca Mountain Standards the National Research Council]  We cannot realistically claim to have any safe way to store nuclear waste.  The longest any man-made structures have existed to date is less than 5,000 years (the Egyptian Pyramids) and we have no engineering data on their construction.  Good engineering is based on experience and applied mathematics, not guesswork.  It is ludicrous to think we can build a structure that will contain nuclear waste for a million years.  I believe the nuclear industry has go back to the drawing board and develop power solutions that produce waste that can either be recycled into more fuel or disposed of safely within about 100 years.  Frankly, when I first proposed this as a realistic goal (from a waste standpoint), I thought it was impossible to achieve.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that the DOE (or its predecessor) was running a prototype Thorium reactor in the 60's that might be able to do just that!  The DOE needs to drop all their other nuclear programs and work on the waste issue before we license any new reactors.

The reality is that nuclear fission technology has to be redesigned from the ground up before we do anything more with it.  Normally, I would say that technology that has failed this miserably should be abandoned; however, we have have a huge stockpile of nuclear waste that can only be disposed of by recycling and the recycling is almost certain to generate a lot of energy, too.

Nuclear fusion might have the long term potential to be a clean source of energy, but even if it works and turns out to be clean, it will still require a massive plant.  Not something one can put in the back yard or into a car or truck.  And by the way, a fusion reactor is running the same reaction that is going on in the Sun; so, there is one thing we need no matter what creates the energy.  We need new ways to store and transport energy created by the Sun (or other nuclear fusion reaction).  The United States should be diverting as many resources as possible to basic energy research.  Especially in the area of storing and transporting energy safely.