FYI: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fuel-from-the-sea

Reflections on fusion history, current events, and predictions for the 'fusion powered future.
User avatar
Chris Bradley
Posts: 2931
Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 11:05 am
Real name:

FYI: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fuel-from-the-sea

Post by Chris Bradley » Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:55 am

http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear ... om-the-sea

"
The best method works like this: A polymer substrate—basically, plastic—is irradiated, and then chemicals with an affinity for uranium are grafted onto it. The material is woven into 60-meter-long braids, and these are then brought out by boat to water at least 100 meters deep. ...“You get between 2 and 4 grams of uranium sticking to this stuff per kilogram of plastic,” says Erich Schneider, a nuclear engineer at the University of Texas at Austin. “That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it all adds up.”
"

User avatar
Dennis P Brown
Posts: 1705
Joined: Sun May 20, 2012 2:46 pm
Real name: Dennis P Brown
Location: Glen Arm, MD

Re: FYI: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fuel-from-the-sea

Post by Dennis P Brown » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:11 pm

Does not sound any where near as good after I read more of the details:

"then the cost is US $1230 per kilogram of uranium, about a factor of 10 more expensive than traditional mining."

That is way too expensive to even attempt to day at current energy prices and worst still, existing reactors already cost more to operate than revenue they generate using the low cost fuel.

Also, this:

'a reactor would need' ... "5500 kilograms of uranium from this process in a year, Schneider says “you would need—get ready for this—a million tons of plastic per year."

This also assumes ideal processing conditions (real world problems are always overlooked or are not apparent until a process is taken out of the lab and scaled up as well as put into operation.)

This is a hopeful development but of little current value and even if it works - then prices for fuel would need to first go through the roof before the process would be worth the effort ...also, I'd think the world/US economy would be on the rocks at that point, anyway.

Another point (ignoring this fuel cost) is that it would take decades to have any impact due to cycle up time needed to build enough processing plants and enough new reactors to even need a new source of fuel.

The biggest show stopper besides cost is that we are still missing a cost effective fission based reactor.

It is good that an approch is being put forward and maybe in twenty or more years this might be viable. Then fusion might be viable by then, too - can hope.

User avatar
Richard Hull
Moderator
Posts: 11422
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: FYI: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fuel-from-the-sea

Post by Richard Hull » Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:14 pm

Current market price for Uranium (always sold on the open market as U3O8) $48.00/lb ~$110.00/kilogram. (Sept 18 2012) Note, to get this price, at least 1 ton must be bought if you plan to take delivery.

It must be dredged up as the oxide and or chloride. Nice and interesting method of fishing for the U stuff!

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

User avatar
Chris Bradley
Posts: 2931
Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 11:05 am
Real name:

Re: FYI: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fuel-from-the-sea

Post by Chris Bradley » Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:55 pm

Dennis P Brown wrote:
...
> That is way too expensive to even attempt to day at current energy prices and worst still, existing reactors already cost more to operate than revenue they generate using the low cost fuel....
> It is good that an approch is being put forward and maybe in twenty or more years this might be viable. Then fusion might be viable by then, too - can hope.

Yes, the purpose of the article appeared to be saying 'all is not lost' if we do run out of U ore within 100 years, rather than looking at immediate viability of the scheme.

But in another way you are right that it is borderline irrelevant (IMHO) not so much because of fusion but because if we get into that state without having finally 'bitten the bullet' and got on with fast breeder reactors, then it'd probably mean we're in a pretty sorry state to actual make any decisions about anything much that is 'nuclear'.

User avatar
Steven Sesselmann
Posts: 2108
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:50 am
Real name: Steven Sesselmann
Location: Sydney - Australia
Contact:

Re: FYI: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fuel-from-the-sea

Post by Steven Sesselmann » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:13 pm

Huh..

Running out of uranium ore in 100 years....

When are we going to realize that finding a new source of energy is not the solution, we need to change the crazy way we live. The life style we have developed is a result of our lack of foresight and apparently unlimited supply of oil.

It is perfectly possible to live on this planet without upsetting it, the dinosaurs did it for 160 million years, and they had a brain the size of a chicken.

Apply some lateral thinking to the problem.

This site has some interesting reading...

http://www.paulchefurka.ca/

This is not fusion related, but worth reading if we are going to hang around long enough to see fusion work fr us.

Steven
http://www.gammaspectacular.com - Gamma Spectrometry Systems
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Steven_Sesselmann - Various papers and patents on RG

User avatar
Chris Bradley
Posts: 2931
Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 11:05 am
Real name:

Re: FYI: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fuel-from-the-sea

Post by Chris Bradley » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:31 pm

... because we are a technologically based species that require energy (rather than hunter-gathering oversized chickens!).

Edward Miller
Posts: 266
Joined: Wed Mar 19, 2003 8:50 am
Real name: Edward Miller
Contact:

Re: FYI: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fuel-from-the-sea

Post by Edward Miller » Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:19 pm

It would be a lot easier to put those same plastics in the smokestacks of coal power plants.

The coal industry releases more Uranium into the air than is used by the nuclear industry every year.

User avatar
Steven Sesselmann
Posts: 2108
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:50 am
Real name: Steven Sesselmann
Location: Sydney - Australia
Contact:

Re: FYI: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fuel-from-the-sea

Post by Steven Sesselmann » Wed Sep 19, 2012 12:16 am

Chris,

...."we are technologically based species"

Well for hundreds of thousands of years we were not doing anything more advanced than oversized chickens, going along quite nicely I might add, we only started using iPads in the last couple of years.

Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that the alternative is to go back and start living as hunter gatherers. We could use the technology we have, and the limited resources, to build a sustainable future, but one that does not depend on short term resources, but we can't do it for 9 Billion people..

The world population is in overshoot, and the proverbial "shit" is going to hit the fan sooner or later, in the worst case scenario, we might even loose much of the technology we have gained, and one day when we can no longer afford to run the internet, the iPad might get a second life as a cutting board for raw meat if you can find it.

Steven
http://www.gammaspectacular.com - Gamma Spectrometry Systems
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Steven_Sesselmann - Various papers and patents on RG

User avatar
Richard Hull
Moderator
Posts: 11422
Joined: Fri Jun 15, 2001 1:44 pm
Real name: Richard Hull

Re: FYI: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fuel-from-the-sea

Post by Richard Hull » Wed Sep 19, 2012 2:04 pm

We are indeed, a technology based species and our energy needs will follow the population proportionally, but technology, as, or if, it advances will increase such needs disproportionally. For all our belief in the future, we are still just hunter-gatherers with a bigger brain and too clever by half.

The world (nature) self-regulates much like a culture in a petri dish. Whether we shed the necessary 2-3 billion humans via starvation, nuclear war, total breakdown of civilization, pandemic or a combination of them all, it is not really important, for it will happen, and like fusion, real soon now.

A confluence of events is on the rise and whether you or I deem the ultimate results good or bad, the universe and the earth, itself, takes no notice or cares about you, me, our children or the future of any species. All of this will occur regardless of any cerebration on the part of our much bigger brains. We can only hope that our reptillian brain stem hasn't been so subverted, that some of us will survive to once again focus on the use of our "higher powers".

In the end, gravity still works and this slag heap will continue to orbit, regardless of what kind of thin film is on its surface.

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

ab0032
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:50 am
Real name: Alexander Biersack

Re: FYI: http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/nuclear/nuclear-fuel-from-the-sea

Post by ab0032 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:07 pm

I agree with you, but this will give us no more than 1 million tons of Uranium and 2 million tons of Thorium. http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev ... lmain.html

The estimate on the amount in the sea will let us get Uranium for the next billion years from oceans even without breeding. I am sure we will soon have breeding and fusion too.

Long long before Uranium will run out anyways.

The trick with current rates of consumption is what most people dont understand. Energy consumption has risen by 3% pa for the last 150 years and it has seemed to have picked up a little speed recently. So I expect that energy consumption will continue on its exponential path. There is no rational reason to believe otherwise.

All third world people will want to have a washing machine, a TV, a car, regular holy day flights, heating, air con, microwaves, mobile phones, internet and all the rest too, and we will not be able to stop them from getting all this, which costs energy. It would be immoral to not let them have it, and I am not the one who does not want them to have a modern life with education, medicine and clean water and so on.

Only the anti-humanist ecologists want this. But they will fail, all their rhetoric was ridiculed by reality, all their Club of Rome prophecies have turned out to be nonsense. What they are underestimating is the creativity of human beings. Empirically it is easy to see that resources increase as population increases. All this Malthusian thinking is bullshit and has been proven wrong and wrong again.

Once we have fusion and space travel we will move to the next level again and prove these anti-humanist wrong again.

With current nuclear technology we could feed 70 billion people on earth today, we could desalinate seawater and turn the Sahara into a huge oasis, but the greens wont let us. By opposing gen tech and nuclear power and by turning food into gas (ethanol and plant oil diesel) they are responsible for millions of death in the third world. One could say they have outdone Hitler, Stalin and Mao together.

On the other hand alternative forms of energy like wind and solar will never be able to get us past 2060 at 3% growth in energy consumption. Even if we needed only 10% of the Sahara today, completely covered with PV to give the world all the energy it needs, all the deserts in the world covered end to end with wind and solar would not be enough to give us the energy we will need in 2100. This is just a pipe dream. Simple back of the envelop calculations easily show that it wont work, we cant afford to cover all deserts with panels, they would just take too much resources and too much energy to produce.

Whoever hasnt understood what the greens are about should read Merchants of Despair by the NASA scientist Robert Zubrin. http://www.amazon.com/Merchants-Despair ... 1594034761

Post Reply