Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Future of Nuclear power


Future of Nuclear power

I want to address the long term future of nuclear power which is evolving and transitioning slowly.  Recently we had it reported that a package has been designed that can be retro fitted into a coal plant.  That is excellent news and an obvious move once the regulatory hassle is resolved.

Understand that energy supply has two separate components.  One component is in the form of heat engines.  The second component is the production of grid power or voltage.  We have normally combined the two but hardly optimized either.

Sooner or later we will have fusion energy and that will surely end up been a source of voltage and scant heat.

Also note that hydro is also a source of voltage while both coal and natural gas start as heat engines with conversion to voltage and a energy loss along the way.

Just as obviously uranium fuel cycle is a source of heat and needs heat conversion to produce voltage.

At least we are now trying to replace hydrocarbon heat engines with nuclear heat engines.  That is good.

Better yet, we need to transition from uranium fuel cycle to the thorium cycle.

The BIG reason for this is that we can add small amounts of all that waste uranium to the thorium salt reactor to increase the energy output while degrading most of the nasty isotopes.  The only reason we ever started with uranium was to make bombs.  Thorium was always a better solution for power production not least because it actually degrades to truly safe isotopes.

with long term stable heat engines, it should be possible to then supply heat to the urban environment.  That is obviously good.  We all want cheap reliable heat.

Now throw in having atmospheric power generators in all large citrties as well and the cities become the geographic source of grid voltage eliminating almost all significant line losses and easily supplies EV battery demand.

An atmospheric generator looks just like a cooling tower and will be part of every city landscape.

Again power production actually has two tasks that do not make it simple.  Heat production has to be close to its market.  Steam distribution tech is about two centuries old and well understood and ideal to supply an urban environment.  Geothermal does it all in Iceland.  Natural gas downtown does it all in Vancouver to the point even distant apartment blocks all have their own natrural gas heat engine.

Grid voltage has been typically a long way away geographically.  That is going to change slowly until the atmospheric power engine is operational.

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