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#176 2021-07-22 20:32:02

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

SpaceNut,

1. I'm well aware of what happens when Lithium is exposed to air or water.

2. We can argue over whether or not the instructions Tesla Motors has provided to fire departments are a good or bad idea, but we're not blaming the fire departments for following instructions from Tesla Motors about how to handle Tesla vehicle fires.  When new vehicles are manufactured, the manufacturers provide input to fire departments and rescue crews pertaining how to put out fires, how to extract vehicle occupants, particularly relevant hazards, etc.  The same is true of airliners and ships.

3. The fire department followed instructions from Tesla Motors about what to do if a Tesla vehicle catches fire.  This is the third time now that I've pointed out what the fire departments were instructed to do by Tesla Motors, in the event of a Tesla vehicle fire.  Is it possible that Tesla is utterly clueless about firefighting?  Possibly, but their engineering staff should know full well what happens when you poor water on a Lithium fire.

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#177 2021-07-22 20:42:27

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,024

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

I would agree kbd512, that fire blame mostly rests with the automotive use in that internal temperature is not monitored to shutdown battery current draw and its a contributor to it going up in flames once its internally damaged.

2021 battery packs for Tesla vehicles 350v for its 3 models.
models s & x are 100 kwh

model 3 are range 50 to 82 kwh
https://cleantechnica.com/2019/01/28/te … rovements/

model y is 75 kwh

So which vehicle design gives the answer to layout of cells to heat breakdown.

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#178 2021-07-23 00:08:59

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

SpaceNut,

A short circuit happens at the speed of light.  All it takes is for 1 lousy cell out of the hundreds present in the complete battery pack to suffer an internal short to burn the entire vehicle to the ground.  What happens to the rest of the pack and the vehicle its integrated into is already a done deal, and even beyond a computer's control, by the time it happens.  This is exactly why NASA-designed Lithium-ion battery packs are so physically large and heavy, relative to Tesla battery packs.  NASA properly thermally isolates the other cells in the pack so that one bad cell can't destroy the entire battery pack or whatever its mounted to.  This is the "Catch-22" of Lithium-ion battery pack design.  If you pack them in closely enough to keep total pack weight reasonable, then by definition you've also packed them in so closely that they can turn whatever they've been mounted to into a puddle of molten metal.  Maybe advanced materials like Aerogel foam could keep the individual batteries appropriately isolated, but a mere 1/8th of an inch of spacing between hundreds of cells is more than enough to cut the pack's volumetric energy density by a quarter or more.  The ultimate solution is to design separator materials that make short circuits extremely difficult, but as the separator materials become thinner and thinner to increase cell energy density, this is all but impossible to achieve.  Lithium electro-chemical reactions produce the dendrites that cause short circuits, but so as long as we're stuck using paper thin Lithium electrolyte gel, this will become increasingly common as the quest for greater energy density drives thinner and thinner layers of active material.  I have no clue about how to solve that kind of problem while retaining all of the other desirable cell properties, and apparently the standing armies of materials scientists and engineers scattered across the world don't, either.  All we've done up to this point is limit the progression of this problem, and absolutely nothing has completely stopped it.  Any slight manufacturing issue can cause the cell to be dangerously defective from the factory.

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#179 2021-07-23 20:50:25

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,024

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

more battery recalls GM Issues Second Major Recall For Fire Risk in EV Bolts

GM warns some Bolt EV owners: Don’t park them inside or charge them unattended overnight

General Motors is telling some owners of 2017-2019 Bolt EVs not to park their vehicles inside or charge them unattended overnight.

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#180 2021-07-24 12:23:42

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,563
Website

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

New technologies ALWAYS have a "shakedown" period after their introduction,  when you find out what the as-yet unaddressed problems really are.  That is the time when you must decide the risk vs the benefit:   do you really want this technology,  or should you look for something else?  THAT is where we are with lithium-ion batteries.  This find-the-real-problems interval is typically many years long.

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#181 2021-07-25 13:37:38

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

GW,

A practical solution to the vehicle propulsion problem is to use a smaller turbocharged engines that make more horsepower from less displacement.  We've already done everything we reasonably can to clean up vehicle emissions.  Mazda has arguably gone above and beyond in that department, as has Mercedes-Benz.  If some people are still unsatisfied with the result, then they can devote their own time to designing something that actually works for a reasonable cost.  While I like the fact that Tesla has innovated with electric vehicle design, I also can't park a vehicle that might spontaneously combust in my home garage during charging or while driving our kids to school.

I'm now in the market for a new vehicle since we returned the leased Cadillac XT5 back to the dealership in May.  I won't be buying a Tesla until they get the battery bugs ironed out.  Instead, I'm going to purchase an older 1970s to early 1980s era vehicle, because the emissions associated with producing those vehicles is already a done deal, and then put a modern engine in it.  Eventually I'll do a battery and electric motor swap, as time and money permits.  I can get a completely restored or unbelievably well maintained early-to-mid 1980s Rolls-Royce for $25,000 or less, though I'll probably stick with American iron.

I'm in the hunt for an old sedan that I can put a Mazda 2.5L PY-VPTS / Skyactiv-G (250hp I4 turbocharged gasoline), GM 2.0L LTG engine (272hp I4 turbocharged gasoline) or a Cummins R2.8 (160hp I4 turbocharged diesel).  All can essentially be purchased as crate engines, and come with modern emissions control equipment and great fuel economy.  Since I could care less about going faster than 75mph, 200hp to 300hp is plenty for me.  The R2.8 can be easily turned up to 200hp with a tune and the Skyactiv-G or LTG already make more than I need in stock form.  My preference is the Cummins due to the highway fuel economy that Jeep owners have been getting and the fact that Diesel is now less expensive than 93 Octane gasoline, which the others require.  Mazda says they're coming out with a straight six version of their new Skyactiv-X series engine starting in 2022, so I will be anxiously waiting to nab one of those little gems as a worthy small block V8 replacement.

I've looked at 1970s to 1980s cars from the following manufacturers for a candidate chassis:
Buick
Chevrolet
Chrysler
Dodge
Ford
GMC
Plymouth
Pontiac
Rolls-Royce (can't beat their build quality, and most don't have a speck of rust or a mark on them)

I'm most familiar with Chevy and Mopar, so that's likely what I'll stick with, but I also like Ford.  They all used to make good quality products, and Rolls-Royce has always made good quality products.  Their "new" (to Rolls-Royce) German engines is what I take issue with.  Some of those German engines are now so complex that even the Germans throw up their hands and say, "get a new one".

Apart from mandating all steel construction with minimal plastic garbage and nothing electrical or electronic that doesn't absolutely need to be, I'm not real picky.  I want manual doors / windows / lighting.  I consider manual steering a bonus, but not required.  I don't need computer-controlled windshield wipers or window defrosters or AC / heating, either.  My "lane keep assist" feature consists of using my left and right hands to keep it out of the ditches.  My version of traction control is raising my right foot.  ABS is better known as pumping the brakes, and I know this works because I did it in my Challenger after putting it sideways on the streets of Chicago on black ice.  I learned my lesson and never had that problem again.  I was also more conservative in how I drove afterwards.  Anyway, good driving habits is what I learned from driving an older vehicle- such as don't accelerate too slowly or too quickly and stall the engine, give yourself plenty of room to stop, maintain following distance, maintain your vehicle properly at all times.

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#182 2021-07-25 19:12:19

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,563
Website

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Kbd512:

You would probably also like the way the wife and I first moved from school in Austin up to my first job in Waco.  Between us,  the only car we had was my 36 HP 1960 6-volt VW beetle.  I had a custom trailer hitch made,  and I mounted it.  Nothing standard was available for small VW's back then (1975). 

We rented a U-Haul box trailer,  and I aired the tires up all the way,  before I could even pull it.  We piled everything we owned into that trailer,  plus our luggage and us in the car,  and a small boat on a roof rack.  It grossed over 5000 lb.  We came up I-35 in 3rd gear at 42 mph to Waco,  and it did just fine.  Could not use 4th gear,  insufficient torque at any speed.  Biggest problem I had was braking:  had to start really early.  The trailer was unbraked. 

Actually,  I still have that car.  It is in deep-preservation mothballs out here on the farm,  after I drove it for some 34 years.  I could have it running again in about a day. 

Thought you might enjoy that experience.

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#183 2021-07-26 22:03:22

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

GW,

I decided to go with a newer car because a 2007 Charger was available near our neighborhood for only $5,000 with the 2.7L V6.  All of the electronics on the car have been replaced with new or refurbished units, including the computer.  Everything works.  It has a small vacuum leak on the plastic intake manifold, so it's a tad rough at idle, but that goes away the moment you press on the gas.  A new one is only $150, so that's going to be my ride for now until someone makes an electric car that doesn't transform itself into a Roman Candle within three days of purchase.  Apart from the usual problems with the plastic not-so-fantastic, there's no rust, surprisingly clean engine bay, radiator core is shockingly clean, a minor paint scuff on one fender, a couple of rock chips in the windshield, and it needs one new tire.  It was a hell of a lot cheaper option than what I was considering for alternatives.  They want crazy money for the newer cars and the older cars I was looking at would've been no different in terms of price than purchasing a new one, so that's that.

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#184 2021-09-03 16:46:44

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,154

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

This from the Manhattan Institute: The Green Energy revolution is an exercise in magical thinking.
https://www.manhattan-institute.org/gre … impossible

Well worth a read.


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#185 2021-09-03 17:21:42

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,208

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

For Calliban ... I'm planning to read the article... I decided to post this because I recognized the name you chose to post ...

Biography
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, where he co-directs an Institute on Manufacturing Science and Innovation. He is also a strategic partner with Montrose Lane (an energy-tech venture fund). Previously, Mills cofounded Digital Power Capital, a boutique venture fund, and was chairman and CTO of ICx Technologies, helping take it public in 2007. Mills is a regular contributor to Forbes.com and is author of Digital Cathedrals (2020) and Work in the Age of Robots (2018). He is also coauthor (with Peter Huber) of The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste, and Why We Will Never Run Out of Energy (2005).

His articles have been published in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Real Clear. Mills has appeared as a guest on CNN, Fox, NBC, PBS, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. In 2016, Mills was named “Energy Writer of the Year” by the American Energy Society. Earlier, Mills was a technology advisor for Bank of America Securities and coauthor of the Huber-Mills Digital Power Report, a tech investment newsletter. He has testified before Congress and briefed numerous state public-service commissions and legislators.

Mills served in the White House Science Office under President Reagan and subsequently provided science and technology policy counsel to numerous private-sector firms, the Department of Energy, and U.S. research laboratories, and prior to that began his career as an experimental physicist and development engineer in microprocessors and fiber optics.

Early in his career, Mills was an experimental physicist and development engineer at Bell Northern Research (Canada’s Bell Labs) and at the RCA David Sarnoff Research Center on microprocessors, fiber optics, missile guidance, earning several patents for his work. He holds a degree in physics from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada

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The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and A Roaring 2020s
Mark P. MillsOctober 19th, 2021
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The Tough Calculus of Emissions and the Future of EVs
Mark P. MillsAugust 22nd, 2021
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Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Mark P. MillsJune 24th, 2021
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‘Energy’s Digital Future’ Review: The ‘Transition’ From Oil
Mark P. MillsJune 22nd, 2021
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Mark P. MillsMay 31st, 2021
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Unsettled: A Book Talk on Climate Science with Dr. Steven E. Koonin
Steven E. Koonin and Mark P. Mills
May 25th, 2021
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Testimony Before Canada's House of Commons on Economic Recovery from Covid-19
Mark P. MillsMay 13th, 2021
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Biden’s Not-So-Clean Energy Transition
Mark P. MillsMay 11th, 2021
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‘Unsettled’ Review: The ‘Consensus’ on Climate
Mark P. MillsApril 25th, 2021
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Green Dreams
Mark P. Mills and Daniel KennellyMarch 20th, 2021
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#186 2021-09-06 00:58:02

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Calliban,

Calliban wrote:

This from the Manhattan Institute: The Green Energy revolution is an exercise in magical thinking.
https://www.manhattan-institute.org/gre … impossible

Well worth a read.

Thanks for posting that.  Someone had to lay out the facts for these people.  What follows isn't really directed at you, so much as the people who religiously ignore basic science and physics for monetary gain.

From the article:

This daunting challenge elicits a common response: “If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can [fill in the blank with any aspirational goal].” But transforming the energy economy is not like putting a few people on the moon a few times. It is like putting all of humanity on the moon—permanently.

My personal favorite is the graph showing the total 30 year electricity production from a $1,000,000 investment:

shale oil well: 320,000,000kWh
wind turbines: 55,000,000kWh
photovoltaic panels: 40,000,000kWh

This is why our electricity rates keep going up, despite the "falling cost" of "green energy" / "renewable energy", because it provides nowhere near as much energy, most of it is not renewable (one of the greatest con jobs in human history), and basic physics doesn't care if the customer can count or not.  If "green energy" was 6 times cheaper or produced 6 times as much energy, then we might be able to make it work about as well as oil and gas.  Ultimately, what we're really saying is that 6 times less energy needs to go into making wind turbines and solar panels for them to be energy-competitive in the real world, at the same cost.  So, unless someone figures out how to make wind turbines and solar panels cheaper than the total tonnage of base materials that went into them, this is pure fantasy-based thinking.

The only way we could use 6 times less energy, to keep our own energy costs the same over time, would be to turn off the AC.  The house would be between 80 and 90 degrees for most of the year, our computers we use for work would overheat and fail, the pine and sheetrock in the walls would rot from the humidity, and the house would be termite food inside of 10 years.  The houses would be fine if they were steel-reinforced concrete, but none of them are made that way.  I've also lived inside a steel ship in 90+ degree heat with no AC.  It's absolutely miserable.  You wake up in a pool of your own sweat and have constant headaches because it's so hot you can't sleep properly.  We didn't have any fans, though, or if we did we used them to keep equipment cool.  Some of our elderly residents would die from heat exhaustion, and some children would also be at risk.  We've been without power during the summer for a month or more at a time following hurricanes, and that's not my idea of "fun".

This little gem was also in there:

It costs less than $1 a barrel to store oil or natural gas (in oil-energy equivalent terms) for a couple of months.[20] Storing coal is even cheaper. Thus, unsurprisingly, the U.S., on average, has about one to two months’ worth of national demand in storage for each kind of hydrocarbon at any given time.[21]

Meanwhile, with batteries, it costs roughly $200 to store the energy equivalent to one barrel of oil.[22] Thus, instead of months, barely two hours of national electricity demand can be stored in the combined total of all the utility-scale batteries on the grid plus all the batteries in the 1 million electric cars that exist today in America.[23]

No battery powered car is 200 times more efficient than a combustion engine, either, but that's probably too technical for most people to understand, so the 2 months vs 2 hours of energy storage is easier for them to comprehend.  Anything that requires "dot connecting" is too technical, or so it would seem.

Note to self: teach the kids how to think, because they'll be forced to do that after they paint themselves into an "energy corner" with their ideology.

A wind/solar grid would need to be sized to meet both peak demand and to have enough extra capacity beyond peak needs in order to produce and store additional electricity when sun and wind are available. This means, on average, that a pure wind/solar system would necessarily have to be about threefold the capacity of a hydrocarbon grid: i.e., one needs to build 3 kW of wind/solar equipment for every 1 kW of combustion equipment eliminated. That directly translates into a threefold cost disadvantage, even if the per-kW costs were all the same.[26]

Even this necessary extra capacity would not suffice. Meteorological and operating data show that average monthly wind and solar electricity output can drop as much as twofold during each source’s respective “low” season.[27]

Wrong.  You need more than that because you have to generate the energy to produce the 3kW of wind / solar capacity to make up for the 1kW of combustion you're displacing, and combustion is used to make 90%+ of all the installed wind and solar generating equipment.  Even people who analyze this stuff aren't completely clued-in on just how wasteful it is.  It's very difficult to over-estimate that simple fact.

If any of these "green con jobbers" were actually serious about wanting to "de-carbonize" the energy supply, then mining is the first place they'd have to start.  If you can't obtain and transport raw materials without burning copious quantities of hydrocarbons, then you have no hope of ever achieving more complex goals.  When you can make concrete, steel, and glass, in the quantities required, without burning anything, then you're on the cusp of being able to remove hydrocarbon consumption for most uses.  There has been near-zero effort in this direction, because we're only consuming energy at a faster rate over this bit of foolishness.

Then there's this:

Engineers have other ways to achieve reliability; using old-fashioned giant diesel-engine generators as backup (engines essentially the same as those that propel cruise ships or that are used to back up data centers). Without fanfare, because of rising use of wind, U.S. utilities have been installing grid-scale engines at a furious pace. The grid now has over $4 billion in utility-scale, engine-driven generators (enough for about 100 cruise ships), with lots more to come. Most burn natural gas, though a lot of them are oil-fired. Three times as many such big reciprocating engines have been added to America’s grid over the past two decades as over the half-century prior to that.[46]

All these costs are real and are not allocated to wind or solar generators. But electricity consumers pay them. A way to understand what’s going on: managing grids with hidden costs imposed on non-favored players would be like levying fees on car drivers for the highway wear-and-tear caused by heavy trucks while simultaneously subsidizing the cost of fueling those trucks.

The issue with wind and solar power comes down to a simple point: their usefulness is impractical on a national scale as a major or primary fuel source for generating electricity. As with any technology, pushing the boundaries of practical utilization is possible but usually not sensible or cost-effective. Helicopters offer an instructive analogy.

The development of a practical helicopter in the 1950s (four decades after its invention) inspired widespread hyperbole about that technology revolutionizing personal transportation. Today, the manufacture and use of helicopters is a multibillion-dollar niche industry providing useful and often-vital services. But one would no more use helicopters for regular Atlantic travel—though doable with elaborate logistics—than employ a nuclear reactor to power a train or photovoltaic systems to power a country.

Wind and solar are "only becoming cheaper", yet electricity rates keep rising as more and more wind and solar are added to the grid, because the con artists came up with various "magic accounting tricks" to avert attention away from all of the other stuff added to the grid to make their cont work at all.  It's just another elaborate and theatrical excuse for Democrats to go on another spending spree.  Anything that costs a lot of money, is absurdly inefficient, leaves pretty much everyone impoverished and in dire need of "government assistance" in its wake, they're all over, like flies on a cow pile.  Since so many people can't do basic math, they're easily duped by these cretins who profess from the mountain tops to care about them and "saving the planet".

Here's another wild and crazy thought:

Save yourself first.  If you can't do that, then in all probability nobody else can, either.  This is Republican philosophy.  It's easy to see why it's so unpopular with conformists (you know, all of our self-described "free-thinkers" / "free-spirits" who always seem to need someone else's money or wildly contorted systems of accounting to pay for it all), though.  The "rich dad, poor dad" guy, Mr Kiyosaki, explains it as "poor mindset".  Employee vs entrepreneur thinking.  You work for someone else, you're dependent upon them.  You work for yourself, you're only dependent upon you, you can only blame you for your failures and successes.  If you think you can't do it, then you can't do it.  If you think you can do it, then you can.  Nobody teaches employees about money, because the corporation and government was supposed to take care of them, except it can't, because adults are not children and there's not enough money on the planet to take care of a society filled with overgrown children.

On that point, if someone falsely claims they can turn water into wine, then demand evidence.  If they can't supply any, then move on from there.  Don't spend yourself into oblivion on ideas that clearly don't work and will never work with existing technology.  That's "Step 1" in that program.  And for goodness sake, learn how to do some basic math so all of these scammers have to find some other way to con you out of your money, or eventually break down and get a real job.  If you're a lesbian interpretive dance artist, the only way I'm going to buy a ticket to your show is if you're one of the best on the planet, not that I have any way to judge except by reviews.  Dr. Thomas Sowell calls it "constrained versus unconstrained vision for the future", and his is the best explanation for the division that I've ever heard, and does not get into politics.  It's purely about mindset, attitude, and belief.

People like Calliban and I have already wasted enough time and ink trying to educate these people.  If basic math is too difficult for them, then any more complex topic is well beyond their comprehension.

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#187 2021-09-06 02:45:57

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

So, why am I so "nuclear power happy"?

It has nothing to do with some great fascination with the mysteries of radiation exposure.  I like having energy.  More is generally "more better".  I like having energy at minimum cost, for minimum resource and energy expenditure, and for minimum impact on Earth's natural environment.  Nuclear power checks all those boxes, despite the media hysteria (people who get paid to make other hysteria prone hysterics tune into their hysteria-inducing brain vomit) surrounding the literal handful of dramatic failures in countries that did not invent nuclear weapons and nuclear power.  I've never seen any commercial nuclear reactor fail to produce heat and lots of it.  The only question is whether or not you can get rid of the excess heat 100% of the time or shut the reactor down before excess heat becomes a real problem, because that's the name of the game.

So long as nuclear power operators are held to the highest standards and safety takes priority over penny pinching, standards that the wind and solar power industries religiously fail to achieve, then success is all but assured.  The US Navy has not operated over 100 mobile nuclear reactors for multiple decades, without a serious accident, merely because "they got lucky".  Luck simply doesn't happen over tens of millions of operating hours.  Prudence or imprudence, competence or incompetence, will inevitably shine through.  Similarly, it was not a "happy accident" that there wasn't a single crash of the F-35 prototypes, despite the longest and most extensive, and most expensive as a result (flying every single day, often multiple times per day, for more than a decade), flight testing program ever conducted in the history of aviation.  Granted, far less testing is required without bazillions of lines of code running a flying computer / sensor platform, but if you want testing that assures proper performance, then you have to spend money to do that.  I can assure you that nothing the Russians or Chinese have built has been tested to that level.  Amateurs train until they get it right.  Professionals train until no matter what they do, they can't get it wrong.

If all wind and solar power operators were held to the same environmental standards as nuclear power operators, there wouldn't be any wind and solar power operators.  To start with, the now common practice of spreading radioactive material all over the place during mining would see their rare Earth mineral mines shut down, the numerous heavy metals releases would likewise be disqualifying, and the releases of other toxins like Arsenic / Cadmium / Mercury / Lead would see them fined out of existence by the EPA.  If any other type of power plant was online for only 20% to 40% of the time, the operator would declare a loss, remove that equipment from their asset sheet, and transfer it over to their liability sheet.

Despite all that, "muh green energy".  Green this, green that, green the other.  Your toys cost us a lot of green and typically leave us without any energy when we need it.  We need green flying unicorns that fart piles of gold.  No matter how otherwise dirty the process, the first "green energy" company that makes all of their solar panels or wind turbine blades or batteries without using a drop of oil, a cubic meter of natural gas, or a kilo of coal will truly make me a believer.  Thus far, every "Gigafactory" has been grid-connected, because they don't run on wishful thinking.  When one of these companies can supply enough of their product to feasibly power a nation the size of the US, then and only then can we even think about not using fossil fuels.

Despite my feelings about what we're presently doing, there are also clearly applications where nuclear power is NOT the correct solution.  A passenger train, especially one run by Amtrak, should never be nuclear powered.  Trains actually can be at least partially solar powered, and this would be a very good application for solar power, because the energy requirements are so low, weight is not critical, and most of the time trains are operated in broad daylight.

I'm not fond of the idea of boutique nuclear reactors licensed for operation by individual businesses, either, due to the inevitable penny pinching that occurs.  I can save half a penny per year on some 2 cent plastic part that holds the entire machine together, times a million reactors, oh look, I just saved half a million dollars so I can get my promotion to head penny pincher.  Nuclear reactors should be national level assets that receive national level support, protection, and auditing from both state and federal governments.

You can run the cheapest motor oil that money can buy, but it has to be changed more often, recycled rather than dumped into the water supply, and you have to adhere to your vehicle's maintenance schedule, else your fancy whiz-bang engine turns into a pile of scrap metal.  A failure at this level is a personal inconvenience.  The higher up you go, the more lives you affect.  Therefore, a nuclear reactor needs to be maintained like a F1 racing engine.  You can't operate a Ferrari and then complain about the maintenance costs.

To completely displace coal and gas, we're talking about maintaining a fleet of Ferraris in the low hundreds.  It won't be cheap, but the alternatives are even more unaffordable in the long run, so a modicum of long term thinking is required here.  25 years from now, all the solar panels and wind turbines in existence will be replaced wholesale unless they're somehow given a second lease on life or we find cost-effective ways to recycle them, with minimal energy input.  That kind of technological turnover is indicative of an immature technology, which is typically not something you want to bet the farm on.  Precisely 0% of the batteries and electronic gadgetry in operation today will be functional 25 years from now, and most of them will be inoperative long before then.  The same applies to cars, so we need to start thinking about "planned longevity in operation", rather than "planned obsolescence".

If a car can't last for at least 10 years, then it should be considered a defective product.  If your power plant doesn't last for the better part of a human lifetime, then it should be considered a defective product.  There are 3 types of non-defective power plants by that metric, coal-fired boilers, solar thermal, and nuclear thermal.  In general, the universe is very unkind to machines, especially computer-controlled machines.  If your machine can't function at all without a fully operational computer and extensive suite of sensors, then it's an exercise in failure control.

This is why GA airplanes made in 2021 still use the same engines first used in 1951.  70 years later, nobody without serious money behind their company has successfully produced an electronically-controlled engine that's significantly more reliable, or merely "as-reliable".  That is a simple fact, no matter how hard it is for people enamored with shiny new things to accept.  It's impossible to argue that electronic engine control burns less fuel or requires less maintenance over some specified time interval, but in the long run computers fail catastrophically in ways that are simply not possible with magnetos and carburetors.  An alternator failure in a Cessna 172 has no discernible affect on the "flyability" of the affected aircraft.  If the engine was electronically controlled, it could and probably would quit running immediately.  Commercial aviation does have computer-controlled engines, but the money and engineering that went into certifying them is well beyond what anyone who is not already a part of an established engine manufacturer can afford to spend, and computer-controlled engines have tanked or nearly tanked several previously successful engine manufacturers, to include names like Continental and Lycoming.  But yes, if you're willing to spend any amount of money, then it certainly can be done and has been done.  The question should be, "What problem am I trying to solve, and will this shiny new technology actually solve it, or merely introduce new problems that nobody even thought about?"

Computerization doesn't automagically "make things better", and is a better than average sign that whatever you're attempting to control is so hideously complicated that it doesn't function at all without a bunch of computers and electronic sensors.  Engines reliable enough for aviation use are great example.  Nuclear reactors came about before computers as we know them today existed, so they were deliberately designed to be controllable by humans with good working knowledge of the power plant, rather than a bunch of electronic gadgets.  No such simplistic control mechanisms exist for the wind and photovoltaic power industries, although some types of solar thermal plants are notable exceptions.

I'm not suggesting that we ignore the advancements made in computer control systems, but we need to accept that such systems are not like-kind substitutes for working knowledge or human control.

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#188 2021-09-06 03:21:49

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,154

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Responding to #186.  Quite so.  One thing I do take issue with in the referenced article is the author's assertion that fossil fuels turned out to be abundant and hence the main concern is the pollution that they cause.  Strictly speaking, fossil fuels are abundant.  There is at least an order of magnitude more coal on planet Earth than we have burned so far.  The North Sea alone contains around 4 trillion tonnes.  The same is true of oil, if reserves include kerogen source rocks, tar sands, tight oil and ultra-heavy oil.  The problem is that most of what remains is lower grade than what has been mined already.  It requires a lot more capital and energy investment to extract.  And it is precisely this problem that has been slowly turning the screws on western world economies since the 1970s.  The US shale oil miracle has often been described as 'turning billions of dollars of capital, into millions of dollars of oil'.  Even back in 2010-2014, when oil prices were over $100/barrel, it was unprofitable.  It survived and thrived only because base interest rate had been reduced to almost zero and quantitative easing had flooded the bond market with cash that had nowhere else to go.  A lot of people, ignoring the fine details, seem happy to assume that the growth of shale oil, under extraordinary economic conditions, invalidates the idea that fossil fuel production faces imminent supply constraints.  Yet these supply constraints are quite visible right now in the price of oil.  And the fact remains, that no one would be investing in shale oil with its horrendously high drilling rates, if the world had available the abundant, onshore conventional oil that could be relied upon to meet the bulk of demand up until 2005.  The very existence of the shale oil industry proves that we are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Yet as the author's analysis shows, generating electricity from shale oil and gas remains far more profitable than attempting to generate the same MWh using any foreseeable wind or solar based systems.  And these renewable energy systems are really nothing of the sort, depending as they do on enormous quantities of mined resources and fossil fuels embedded in their physical infrastructure.  And it doesn't stop there.  We would still need gas turbines and oil or gas, to generate power during the sometimes long periods when wind turbines and solar panels do not generate sufficient power to meet demand.  As the author has noted and I attempted to explain to Louis, it is far cheaper to store liquid fuels in tanks, which are then burned in gas turbines, than it is to build battery systems that need to be scaled to store a week or more of grid power demand.

I increasingly doubt that humanity is going to escape the problems caused by resource depletion without some sort of systematic collapse, leading to dramatic reduction in human numbers and living standards.  Our leadership and the idealists that support them, simply do not understand the thermodynamic underpinnings of the economy.  It is easy to forget what an amazing inherentence fossil fuels were.  Easily storable liquid and solid fuels, containing 10s MJ of energy per kg, whose only cost is that associated with mining them from the ground.  Yet people now expect that we can replace this with low power density ambient energy, requiring investments of energy and materials orders of magnitude greater than the virtually free fossil energy.  What are they smoking?

Even using nuclear power, it will be quite difficult to replace fossil derived liquid fuels.  Remember the Lucid Catalyst team, that studied the plan to replace kerosene and gasoline, with ammonia produced by electrolysis derived hydrogen?  To produce liquid fuels at an energy equivalent cost of $40/barrel, input electricity cost must be around $0.01/kWh.  That is 1 cent per kWh.  That is very tough to do with any practical system.  Even fully deregulated, passively safe, liquid metal fast reactors would struggle to produce electricity quite so cheaply.  Which renewable electricity, the cost equivalent ends up being hundreds of dollars per barrel.  Even if all of the stops are removed and modular nuclear reactors could be mass produced very quickly, it is difficult to foresee avoiding a systematic energy crisis at this point.  All the same, this would appear to be the only workable technological solution to the approaching fossil fuel energy resource constraints.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-09-06 03:56:07)


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#189 2021-09-06 04:19:16

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,154

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

kbd512 wrote:

So long as nuclear power operators are held to the highest standards and safety takes priority over penny pinching, standards that the wind and solar power industries religiously fail to achieve, then success is all but assured.  The US Navy has not operated over 100 mobile nuclear reactors for multiple decades, without a serious accident, merely because "they got lucky".  Luck simply doesn't happen over tens of millions of operating hours.  Prudence or imprudence, competence or incompetence, will inevitably shine through.

Admiral Rickover's naval PWRs are also robust in ways that make them different to land based civil PWRs.  Without going into details, they can lose a lot more decay heat through natural radiant heat loss and passive natural convection, than any land based 1000MWe PWR could ever hope to.  Part of that stems from smaller size, but much of it is due to design decisions.  Admiral Rickover knew what he was doing.  Sixty years later, we are only just getting round to building small, modular, civil PWRs with the same passive safety benefits.  They aren't exactly idiot proof.  You need trained operators who fully understand the vulnerabilities of the plant.  But they are more fault-tolerant than most land based PWRs in existence, where electric power supply must be provided reliably for months after shut down to run the pumps needed to remove decay heat.

If we are to build nuclear power reactors in sufficient numbers to replace fossil energy as the dominant power source, then passive safety is the way to go.  Whilst I would never advocate relaxing safety management procedures, safe systems need to be tolerant of abuse.  This was the understanding that inspired the development of the Integral Fast Reactor.  Had IFRs been installed at Fukushima, they would have remained safe through natural heat loss, even as the world collapsed and got washed away around them.  Even if the operators had died at the controls, the plant would have had enough inbuilt reactivity control, heat capacity and heat rejection, to absorb any transients and remain safe.  This is the way to build reactors.  And it is the only way of building them cheaply enough to avoid having to wrap the entire industry in layers of red tape so thick that you need a cutting torch to get through it.

What a shame that Clinton and his clown brigade were allowed to kill it off.  In the final calculation, the energy challenges that human civilisation faces are difficult but surmountable.  But we cannot get past the stupidity, corruption and downright mental sickness of those that have risen to power.  We are going to collapse, not because solutions don't exist, but because we failed to adopt them.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-09-06 04:26:14)


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#190 2021-09-06 04:43:16

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,601

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Calliban,

It's certainly starting to look that way to me, but after we stopped teaching math and basic deductive reasoning in schools, what alternative result was expected?

We're now living under an idiocracy form of government here in America, the natural intersection between idiocy and ideology.  Everyone who actually knows something about energy is automatically excluded from the conversation, because what they have to say doesn't jive with what the hucksters who have captured the attention of the voting public are selling.  The public will learn soon enough, whether they want to or not.

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#191 2021-09-14 13:42:31

Calliban
Member
From: Northern England, UK
Registered: 2019-08-18
Posts: 1,154

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Europe is in the middle of a full blown energy crisis.  We can blame the Greens and New Left for this.  They are about to be taught that there is nothing trendy about low power density, intermittent energy sources that leave you freezing in the dark.  It is easy to be idealistic when you are warm, employed and have plenty of food in your belly.  And it is easy to take those things for granted when you have never known life without them.  I wonder if Greta Thunberg has ever been hungry or truly cold?  I wonder if she really understands what poverty feels like?  The hopelessness of being stuck in a low paying job that barely pays the rent?  Or having no work at all and wondering where the next meal will come from?  Or being cold to her bones and longing for a place that is warm?  This is the sort of disaster that Europe is now flirting with, thanks to Greta and her buddies in the New Left.
https://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News … owing.html

Domestic natural gas production is falling due to depletion; Russian production is stagnant and the Ruskies are sending less gas to Europe and more gas to China.  The Chinese can afford to pay more as most of their NG is used to power industrial processes that actually generate physical exports.  To top it off, the wind has failed to generate very much power this summer due to persistent high pressure over the European subcontinent.  Much of Europe has been unusually cloudy as well, which has screwed up solar generation.  Europe has disposed of most of its coal fired generation in an attempt to curb emissions.  The result is that European gas stocks are falling to dangerously low levels right ahead of what looks like may be a hard winter.  Prices are soaring to unprecedented levels.  Maybe this winter will turn out to be mild?  If it doesn't, then Europeans are going to receive a hard lesson in the importance of reliable, low cost energy supplies.  Perhaps a few of them will cotton on to the realisation that reliable, cheap energy is important if they want to keep warm, eat food and generally enjoy the good things in life.  We shall see.

Last edited by Calliban (2021-09-14 13:53:10)


Interested in space science, engineering and technology.

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#192 2021-09-14 14:47:52

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,208

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

For Calliban re post #191 and topic ...

Recently I had the good fortune to find an article about Porsche investing grandly in a methanol production facility in Chile.  I posted that report in the Book on Oil topic, because it is ** such ** a remarkable fit with the entire theme of the book.

For those who may be new to the forum, the book I am examining was recommended by Calliban.

I am partial to the (to me obvious solution) use of nuclear fission to produce methanol, which can be shipped around the globe as needed.

Porsche is planning to use the abundant wind in Chile to power their facility, and while climate change may impact Chile, I would expect winds to increase rather than decrease in that region, simply because there has to be more wind and it has to go somewhere.

However, an enterprising group of humans who are able to make long bets would (it seems to me) do well with a fission>>methanol operation that is sized to meet global need.

(th)

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#193 Yesterday 21:32:36

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,208

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

This is a follow up to Calliban post #191

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/chev … 00857.html

Shades of Calliban !!!

Chevron CEO Warns of High Energy Prices and Supply Crunches
Kevin Crowley
Wed, September 15, 2021, 7:05 PM
(Bloomberg) -- The world is facing high energy prices for the foreseeable future as oil and natural gas producers resist the urge to drill again, according to Chevron Corp.’s top executive.

“There are things that are interfering with market signals right now that we haven’t seen before. Eventually things work out, but eventually can be a long time,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth said Wednesday in an interview at Bloomberg News headquarters in New York. He expects strong prices for gas, liquefied natural gas and oil, at least “for a while,” without specifying a timeframe.

(th)

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#194 Today 00:43:42

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,024

Re: Nuclear vs. Solar vs. Others

Lets say that a submarine nuclear reactor core does not look like what you would expect...when you can walk by an inactive ready to install within 10 ft of it...its still impressive that it does what we want it to do.

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