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#51 2021-08-04 10:27:28

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,597

Re: 14,000 World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021[

For kbd512 re #50

Your post here is addressing Calliban, so my question may disturb the flow of your discussion.  However, you made a statement that fits directly into the theme of the new topic I created, which is itself a branch of Calliban's Nuclear is Safe topic.

A single 16GWh battery would be sufficient for me.

If you have time, and if the undertaking appears worth while, please expand upon your statement here.

I am pursuing a concept for a small business built around the lease of a 1 MW modular reactor for 10 years.

I'm having trouble connecting your estimate (16 GWh) to the 1 MW reactor output, except that i am convinced any such reactor needs to be paired with durable battery storage. 

Again, if you have time, please try to tie those two concepts together!

If you can do it within the context of a small business you might choose to run (if you could lease such a reactor) I would be grateful.

(th)

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#52 2021-08-04 11:57:54

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,708

Re: 14,000 World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021[

tahanson43206,

I measure utility-scale power plants in terms of gigawatts, because America uses terawatt-hours of power per year.  We're not a postage stamp country.  We have colossal energy requirements, so any solution purported to be an actual solution should start at the scale of 1GW of continuous output, per day.  A 250MWe output solar array is nice, but let's get the cost associated with 1GWe of continuous output, and stop kidding ourselves about the magnitude of power we require.  America uses energy like it's going out of style.

If you come to me and say, my 250MWe solar array is cheaper than a 1GWe nuclear reactor, then my response is, divide the Watt-hours of output by however many Watt-hours that 1GWe coal or gas or nuclear power plant produced during 1 year of operation, replicate that with your combination of wind and solar and batteries, and then let's compare prices.  After that, then let's compare prices for the same 50+ years of operation that the nuclear power plant will operate over.  If your "green energy" solution is cheaper or roughly comparable in terms of cost, meaning not 25% to 100% more expensive, then I'm onboard with that.  If it's merely 10% more expensive, no big deal.  We can feasibly use mass-manufacturing to bring the costs down.  The Sun doesn't shine appreciably for 16 hours per day in a lot of places and the wind blows at dawn or dusk, but not on a set schedule, so you still need to generate that 1GWe of base load, which means some combination of other tech is required.  If your storage tech can do that, in combination with your generating tech, then let's talk turkey.

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#53 2021-08-04 12:51:37

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,597

Re: 14,000 World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021[

For kbd512 .... re #52

So your 16 GW example doesn't apply to the small business scenario I am pursuing.

Thanks for taking the time to describe massive facilities that must be funded by gigantic corporations or entire countries.

I think the days of such massive facilities are gone in non-dictatorship countries.

However, there are ** lots ** of dictatorships on Earth, so such plants will surely come into being.

(th)

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#54 2021-08-04 14:21:40

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,708

Re: 14,000 World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021[

tahanson43206,

Generally speaking, every user within a specified geographical locale shares the infrastructure built to provide commercial electric power, and will only resort to other solutions when there is no existing solution for providing power.  For example, if I have a stadium or a brewery or a popcorn plant in a city, then I will use the electric power provided by the city.  The city's total power consumption is measured in gigawatts, and because we can achieve economies of scale through centralization of infrastructure, up to a point, the most efficient use of resources is to pool our collective resources as residents of the city to provide electric power for everyone, irrespective of their individual use case.

Houston, for example, provides power with gas turbines and nuclear reactors that provide electric power for whomever needs power.  We don't say to the customer, "well, you're a brewery, so you need to provide your own power".  If the power consumption figure was large enough, then it would be time to consider specialized solutions for specific applications.

A business that operates its own micro grid would need an enormous investment in equipment and personnel and logistics to keeps its power generating solution online, which only makes economic sense when the scale is such that there's little possibility of simply tapping into the existing grid.  Mom & Pop's Donut Shop is NOT going to run off its own power generation and storage, if for no other reason than they have to purchase additional land and operations expertise and operating licenses for all of that equipment.  In general, it's cheaper to simply run an additional cable into an existing step-down transformer.

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#55 2021-08-04 15:46:54

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,193

Re: 14,000 World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021[

kbd512 wrote:

tahanson43206,

Generally speaking, every user within a specified geographical locale shares the infrastructure built to provide commercial electric power, and will only resort to other solutions when there is no existing solution for providing power.  For example, if I have a stadium or a brewery or a popcorn plant in a city, then I will use the electric power provided by the city.  The city's total power consumption is measured in gigawatts, and because we can achieve economies of scale through centralization of infrastructure, up to a point, the most efficient use of resources is to pool our collective resources as residents of the city to provide electric power for everyone, irrespective of their individual use case.

Houston, for example, provides power with gas turbines and nuclear reactors that provide electric power for whomever needs power.  We don't say to the customer, "well, you're a brewery, so you need to provide your own power".  If the power consumption figure was large enough, then it would be time to consider specialized solutions for specific applications.

A business that operates its own micro grid would need an enormous investment in equipment and personnel and logistics to keeps its power generating solution online, which only makes economic sense when the scale is such that there's little possibility of simply tapping into the existing grid.  Mom & Pop's Donut Shop is NOT going to run off its own power generation and storage, if for no other reason than they have to purchase additional land and operations expertise and operating licenses for all of that equipment.  In general, it's cheaper to simply run an additional cable into an existing step-down transformer.

There are two ways of achieving scale economies.  Economy of scale achieved by mass production and economy of size.  Until recently, the trend for nuclear powerplants was increasing size: up to an all-time record of 1750MWe for EPR, later downgraded to 1600MWe.  Those are truly huge units.  Just one of them would power a city of 3 million people at European levels of electricity consumption.  There are a lot of advantages to building large systems like that.  Generally, as system size increases so does efficiency, because thermal losses, friction in pipes, etc, declines with increasing size.  Less material is needed per installed MW for larger systems compared to smaller.  Neutron economy is better in larger nuclear systems, which allows higher burn up of fuel, slightly lower enrichment and better conversion ratio.  The safety management costs of the plant are also far more affordable if spread over a larger number of MW.

But there are disadvantages as well.  For larger systems, decay heat removal is less able to exploit natural heat loss and more complex mechanical systems are needed.  This pushes up engineering costs.  Over the past 30 years, a number of things have happened that make nuclear systems very much more difficult to build.  For a number of reasons, the build time of nuclear reactors has increased dramatically and this has magnified cost.  The western world has deindustrialised and most nations no longer have the capacity to manufacture the required parts.  Things like steam generators, main coolant pumps, reactor pressure vessels, are much more difficult and expensive to manufacture now than they were a few decades ago.  To build these components now often requires starting a new industry.   As these are effectively one off components, they are very expensive and lead times are long, often with significant delays.  On the construction side of things there are labour shortages and skills shortages.  On top of that, very few nuclear powerplants have been constructed in the past 30 years.  So there is little direct experience in getting it done that isn't past retirement age.  All of these things add up to very expensive powerplants.  The problem isn't so much that size makes them inefficient.  It is simply that there are no scale economies in provision of components, entire new industries need to be restarted and reskilled and build times are long due to inefficiency in regulation, inexperience in construction and long lead times in key components.

A lot of people, Louis being the resident example, want to see this technology fail.  Whatever its merits, it stands in the way of their ideological obsession of powering society using the sun.  That goal means more to them than seeing people well off and well fed.  So they point to the inflated cost of new nuclear reactors as evidence that the technology is a failure and belongs in the past.  The insinuation is that these relatively high costs are something set in stone.  But this ignores the fact that nuclear power reactors are the most energy dense energy source in existence and in the 1970s, nuclear power was the cheapest electricity source.  The gradual ratcheting of costs is a result of deliberate policy (ratcheting up build times), competition from very low cost but unsustainable natural gas and energy market deregulation, which has starved the entire energy industry of capital.  Now, with so few nuclear power plants under construction for decades, building a new one means restarting a dead industry.  This is unsurprisingly expensive.

Enter the small modular reactor.  The idea here is to build smaller systems.  Whilst less efficient in some ways, smaller components are often easier to manufacture.  And by making more of them, costs can be brought down.  Large components can be assembled as modules under factory conditions and the hope is that units can be more rapidly assembled on site from modular components that are shipped to site by rail or road.  But SMRs, whilst smaller than most units in operation are still mostly planned for power levels in the 100s MWe.  The reason is that even large nuclear systems are still very compact by any standard (see link below).  A 1000MWe VVER PWR has coolant volume of 285m3.  Even this large unit could fit into a modest sized industrial building, a cube about 8m aside.  That is really very compact already.
https://www.nuclear-power.com/nuclear-e … f-volumes/

The goal of SMRs is to allow major components to ship to site already assembled.  For example, if the entire nuclear steam raising plant can be delivered as a single package, then there is no need for very much assembly on site.  Factory produced units can achieve good quality control, rapid build and scale economies on the production line.  It isn't clear that reactor units need to be as small as 1MWe to achieve this.  Reducing scale beneath a certain level, may introduce diseconomies, as component mass does not scale down as quickly as power level in these systems.  This is why the 10MWe SSTAR weighs 200 tonnes, but the 100MWe reactor weighs 500 tonnes.  One might say, that the 100MWe achieves a 4x better utilisation of capital equipment.  Larger cores will have lower neutron leakage, resulting in better utilisation of fissile materials.  There is obviously a cost curve for these systems, with both very small and very large systems being expensive for different reasons and intermediate scale systems presenting a sweet spot minimum capital cost somewhere between the two extremes.  Exactly where this point is, nobody can quite agree and it will doubtless be different for different technology options.  But one thing is clear.  Nuclear systems scale up more effectively than they scale down.

The main reason we are considering SMRs are that the industry and is manufacturing abilities have collapsed to the point where a smaller scale solution is needed to get it started again.  The design simplicity allowed by smaller systems also reduces costs in a way that at least partially offsets falling scale economies.  When the industry reaches the point where supply chains are reestablished, scale economies are rebuilt and workforce is trained for construction, the trend towards larger units may well continue.  I cannot personally see that reducing reactor sizes down to 1MWe will be cost effective overall, even though it does permit design simplicity that would be impossible for larger units.  But a 100MWe liquid metal cooled reactor, does appear to retain most of the advantages of design simplicity, whilst allowing some benefit of economy of size.  IfvI were to hazard a guess, I think this is where the sweet spot will be for fast reactor systems.  In most cases, they will be clustered, so that individual reactor plants can share supporting systems and plant management arrangements.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-08-04 16:43:09)


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#56 2021-08-09 09:30:21

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,597

Re: 14,000 World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021[

For kbd512 and Calliban ...

Thank you both for a robust debate on sizing of nuclear reactors ...

SearchTerm:Debate on nuclear reactor sizing
SearchTerm:Nuclear reactor sizing debate
SearchTerm:Fission nuclear reactor sizing

I am looking for a reactor that can be offered to small business operators by the thousands.

For many years factories were powered by local power facilities.  The excursion into gigantic power production facilities was an understandable but unfortunate departure from common sense. 

The complexity of the civilization we humans have built, and our extreme vulnerability are the direct consequence of bright engineers working with over-eager accountants to squeeze every short term (monetary unit) from whatever process they were engaged in, at the ultimate peril of the entire civilization.

Introduction and mass distribution of small nuclear reactors suitable for leasing by small businesses (the way back up generators are leased today) is an answer to the critical weaknesses of the present short-sighted system.

(th)

Last edited by tahanson43206 (2021-08-09 09:31:05)

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#57 2021-08-10 05:28:46

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,193

Re: 14,000 World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021[

China faces an energy crisis that will cut short any prospects of it usurping the US as the world's leading global power.
https://cleantechnica.com/2017/10/06/ch … coal-2020/
https://energyskeptic.com/2015/peak-coa … ound-2024/

Chinese oil production peaked in 2015.  Chinese coal production has been on a plateau since 2013 and will peak by 2024.  Globally traded coal prices have reached record levels of $167/tonne.
https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/coal

Coal provides two thirds of all Chinese energy, most of it mined from deep subsurface mines, with an average depth of 600m (2000').

Economists expect Chinese economic development to continue well into the 21st century and it is expected that by 2050, the Chinese economy will be three times the size of the US.  The reality is that China is an export based economy that has been fuelled by cheap coal derived electricity, with global exports enabled by an oil powered global distribution system.  At present, Chinese coal production is 3x greater than that of the US and is sustained by reserves only 50% those of the US.  No manufacturing economy can continue growing with a shrinking energy supply.  An energy based interpretation is therefore in sharp contradiction with conventional wisdom.  It would indicate that in the near future, China will face recessionary corrections, as shrinking net energy makes it increasingly difficult to maintain sufficient power supply to its industries.

It also suggests that global CO2 emissions are likely to decline in the relatively near future, as China consumes some 53% of the world's coal production.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-08-10 05:55:28)


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#58 2021-08-10 05:55:07

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,597

Re: 14,000 World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021[

For Calliban re #57

Your predictions about fossil fuel use by China seem reasonable (to me at least).

However, your pessimism about their ability to build fission reactors seems (again, to me at least) unwarranted.

This forum may contain citations for Chinese reactor production and deployment, but since that work is ongoing, if someone has time to investigate and post any discoveries, it would be appreciated.

It just occurred to me that recent work by Mars_B4_Moon may well contain updates on Chinese reactor developments.

Now that the forum is back in full operation, I find it difficult to keep up with everything.

And ** some ** posts require so much time to absorb that other posts get less attention. 

It is a ** nice ** problem to have, so thanks to everyone for the sustained effort that makes the forum worth reading.

(th)

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#59 2021-08-10 06:31:42

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,193

Re: 14,000 World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021[

Chinese coal production may drop by 70% (I.e more than two-thirds) by 2050.
https://www.cup.edu.cn/peakoil/docs/201 … 129283.pdf

Chinese coal based electricity generation stood at 5500TWh in 2019.  To replace coal as the primary electricity fuel, the Chinese would need to build some 700 x1GWe nuclear power plants in 29 years.  That would represent an 11 times increase in nuclear generating capacity.  China already has some 60GWe of nuclear generating capacity.  And this is just to replace the electricity that the Chinese derive from coal.  The problem I can see, is that they will need to do this at a time when total primary energy supply is shrinking and the world's liquid fuel production is also shrinking.


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#60 2021-08-10 07:03:54

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,597

Re: 14,000 World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021[

For Calliban re #59

Your description of the problem the Chinese leadership must face is ** really ** intriguing (to me for sure!)....

It seems to me that the challenge would be to produce all these reactors (on the order of 700 per your estimate) without consuming more coal.  You have repeatedly reminded Louis that it costs fossil fuel to make wind turbines and solar panels.  However, nuclear reactors have the ability to provide all the power needed to make more of them.

Indeed, that is exactly the scenario I am proposing for the United States.  The first reactor must necessarily be built using all fossil fuels for input.  The second could be built entirely using the output of the first (allowing for some offsets while fossil fuel is still dominant in some parts of the supply chain).

The supply chain uses fossil fuel at every stage at present.  Replacing oil/diesel in the mines will be challenging.  A reasonable solution there is to make synthetic fuel using a reactor close to the mine, and modify the equipment to use it.

Your closing statement bears repeating ...

The problem I can see, is that they will need to do this at a time when total primary energy supply is shrinking and the world's liquid fuel production is also shrinking.

The Chinese would (in the scenario you have painted) be replacing  chemical energy with atomic energy, so with each reactor completed and placed in service, they would be implementing from 1:1000000 to 1:2000000 improvement in energy potential.

It seems to me that a graph showing the change would present the viewer with a trendline showing increasing total energy supply.

The same should hold true for the US if it were to embark upon a similar course.

And those trendlines are ** only ** for fission. 

Louis' vision of increasing recover of Solar energy by various means ** should ** contribute to an increase in total global energy supply.

(th)

Last edited by tahanson43206 (2021-08-10 07:05:05)

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#61 2021-09-10 06:47:25

Mars_B4_Moon
Member
Registered: 2006-03-23
Posts: 907

Re: 14,000 World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021[

Almost Terra forming or not there yet

The alarmist would say its plot to the scifi movie 'Snowpiercer'?

World’s biggest machine capturing carbon from air turned on in Iceland. Operators say the Orca plant can suck 4,000 tonnes of CO2 out of the air every year and inject it deep into the ground to be mineralised.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment … eland-orca

Last edited by Mars_B4_Moon (2021-09-10 06:47:36)

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