Nuclear Energy
Can We Talk?

US Nuclear Energy Foundation
“Evangelizing Nuclear Advocacy by Bringing Science to Citizens”
A Non-Profit 501(C)(3) Nevada Foundation
PO Box 2867, Sparks, NV 89432 (775) 224-2089
www.usnuclearenergy.org / Email: comments@usnuclearenergy.org

Nuclear Energy     Can We Talk?     Bringing Science To Citizens     Let's Re-Visit Nuclear Energy     Think About It!
 

All information and research on this website is gathered and used with written permission from the
participating authors, contributors & advisors concerning nuclear science, energy and waste repository data!
US Nuclear Energy Foundation is an independent foundation and not supported exclusively by any industry or
nuclear association but by individual and/or business support in order to retain our independence of educational materials.

Our mission is to influence change in public opinion towards
knowledgeable citizens about nuclear energy and waste repository issues.


“Our freedoms can only
be maintained by the advancement of technologies that serve mankind—
not advancing technology puts Freedom at Risk and
our freedom is
threatened because we
don't take the time to
participate in it” GJD

 

 

 

US Nuclear Energy Foundation (USNEF)
Northern Nevada Chapter


GREAT AUGUST MEETING

For those who missed it we are holding good with our core group averaging about 15 members every month. Our teleconference  with Paul Seidler with NEI went very well he updated us on the Reid energy summit August 10 and 11 in Los Vegas and new nuclear plant projects nationwide and continued rumors about Yucca Mountain.

John Dunn showed his PowerPoint presentation on “how Yucca Mountain operation could provide Nevada taxpayers and businesses significant direct annual tax savings" and a state funding source as well.

We think this is one of the best concept presentations we have seen on the Yucca Mountain dilemma and endorse the concept for public distribution. John's Action Item is: "We need to develop a mechanism to get in front of key Nevada politicians and present a case thay can take to the people, even if they themselves have come out against Yucca Mountain".

Public education is the best effort we can advance in order to enlighten citizens on nuclear technology and this is the main crux of our mission.


Listening to Paul Seidler from Vegas providing his overview on current
nuclear development and the Yucca Mountain status


John Dunn's presentation is a superb enlightenment on the Yucca Mountain
dilemma, how it could serve Nevada citizens, businesses, and government.


William McCraley front table very far right got the blue ribbon for taking notes, I think he got every number that Paul Seidler talked about in his phone call with us


John's next effort will be to expand this presentation to the public, political
representatives and businesses to gain interest and support.

John's Proposal Detail


 

Northern nevada CHAPTER

The Northern Nevada Chapter is an in-process group of Nevada citizens who share our educational interests in "Bringing Science to Citizens". The backgrounds are varied, engineers, scientists, citizens, workers and retirees.

IMPORTANT: Chapter participants who want to post their comments and opinions on CHAPTER pages are welcome. Because these are their "opinions/papers" we do not have the time/research to validate these opinions/papers but post the writings for open dialogue. If your research position can offer correction to these writings we are sure the authors would be open to review.


This group launches our first US Nuclear Energy
Northern Nevada Chapter


April-2009 growing interest - with a reactor presentation by Joe Wetch
Northern Nevada Chapter


April 2009 Duarte ran some overview slides on the nuclear industry
Northern Nevada Chapter

Our April-09 had two PowerPoint presentations. The group requested
that we post these slides to our website as PDF files, here they are.

Joe Wetch on energy and nuclear reactors

Gary Duarte, consolidated slide group . . . nuclear energy overview

To open double click, to DOWNLOAD PDF documents right click on the LINK, (save target as) download to your desktop

In memory
Joe Wetch

LINK TO JOE WETCH TRIBUTE PAGE

 

 

 

US Nuclear Energy Foundation Northern Nevada Chapter
"Community organizers" for nuclear energy and waste repository issues

The "group" pictured here are members of the Northern Nevada chapter of USNEF. The group has some 45 Northern Nevada people on their contact list working on signing them up to participate in action items. US Nuclear Energy nationally has some 266 contacts from engineers, scientists, nuclear companies and individuals from all walks of life. Basic goals; development of educational materials, video's, presentations, etc. about the benefits of nuclear energy and the science of deep geologic nuclear waste storage.

If you have a civic group interested in learning more about nuclear energy technology, give us a call and we'll setup a presentation for your group. 775 224-2089

IMPORTANT: Chapter participants who want to post their comments and opinions on CHAPTER pages are welcome. Because these are their "opinions/papers" we do not have the time/research to validate these opinions/papers but post the writings for open dialogue. If your research position can offer correction to these writings we are sure the authors would be open to review.


THE MODERN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT

© By Phil Wendt, Reno, NV
Published by US Nuclear Energy with Permission

            The discussion today is about the modern nuclear power plant.  A plant that produces a constant 10 gigawatts of electrical power, generates its own fuel, totally handles the high level radioactive waste, and is terrorist proof.  And, the fictional nuclear transportation problem doesn’t exist with this power plant either. 

BACKGROUND

On a summer hot day the U.S. uses all of the 800 gigawatts of electrical power that is available.  Southern California by itself uses 50+ gigawatts.  We still have brownouts, rolling blackouts, and power failures.  There is not enough electricity available.  The U.S. could use an additional 200 gigawatts today.  The Modern Nuclear Power Plant solves the problem of the shortage of electrical power without creating another high level radioactive waste problem.

The United States currently has two totally new nuclear power plants approved by the NRC.  They are the Westinghouse AP1000 a 1.1 gigawatt machine and the General Electric ESBWR, a 1.5 gigawatt power plant.  There are 15 of these ordered mostly for the Southeast U.S.  Either of these plants could be used in the Modern Nuclear Power Plant.   

            First, some 30 second reviews:

                        8 % of all electricity comes from hydro.  This stays the same. 

                        92 % comes from thermal.  These thermal power plants are basically the same.  They all use heat to make steam to drive a turbine to turn a generator.  The heat comes from burning coal, oil, gas biomass, garbage, or from nuclear fission.  This stays the same.  

It is important to understand, when looking at the big picture, the electricity that is generated by wind, solar, and geothermal is insignificant.  Most energy discussions are sidetracked with the thought, use green sources for electricity.  In Nevada one needs to go out several decimal places to find the amount of solar (.0003), wind (.0042), or geothermal (.064).  The point is, there is very little “green” electricity available, and it costs at least twice as much and this doesn’t include all the government subsidies.   

It is always interesting to read the environmentalist magazines.  They never give megawatts of solar or wind; it is always the percent increase.  A 200 % increase of nothing is still nothing. 

Another thought we hear about all the time is conservation.  We get endless discussion that the solution to the shortage of electricity is conservation.  This is ridiculous.  Even with all the conservation that is taking place, and there is a lot, the requirement for electricity goes up three percent a year, every year.

                        Another dumb thing the environmentalists have done is their pushing for power plants fueled by natural gas.   Natural gas is a hydrocarbon.  Besides adding significant amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere, this has created a shortage of natural gas and a significant increase in price.  Living in Nevada we get stuck with the backwash of all the stupid things California does. 

                        And, the Nevada legislature passed a law that requires the power companies to use 20 % of green power, even though there is very little available.  Of course this made the Carson City crowd  feel like they did something.  The main accomplishment of this fiasco was to raise the cost of electricity to the customer. 

                        I’m not knocking wind or solar.  The problem is that there is very little available in this country.  Some places like Denmark and northern Germany have constant wind and they are using it to generate a significant amount of their electricity. 

In the U.S., there is no common sense.  As an example, instead of looking

at tall windmills well offshore at Cape Cod as majestic structures providing needed electrical power the Chapaquitic Klutz gets the military to say it messes up their radar.  Even if this were true, this is an easy software fix.  The real problem is that Kennedy thinks it spoils his view.  What a jerk.

THE ENERGY PROBLEM

Before we discuss the technical part of this paper and the functional specification for the new nuclear power plant, we need to review the current status of energy in the United States.   What we are really talking about is the availability and price of energy. 

An early conclusion is that everything relating to energy on Planet Earth is a mess!

                        Gasoline was recently over $4 a gallon, and get ready, it will soon be back to $4.  The commodity traders cause most of this with their greed. 

                        Almost any international political comment causes the price of oil to go up $10 a barrel. 

                        Any minor refinery problem in the U.S. causes the price of gas to go up. 

                        The oil companies duck building refineries because they make huge profits not having the additional capacity. 

                        Congress and local jurisdictions won’t let new refineries be built.  Every effort is stopped, even additions to existing refineries.  And, the oil companies happily use this as an excuse.   

                        Congress won’t allow offshore drilling.

                        Needed new power lines are not installed. 

                        Liquid natural gas terminals are stopped.  Huge quantities of cheap natural gas are not available to us.  So we can pay the exorbitant much higher price.    

There are many examples:

                        The San Francisco City Council voted to condemn a planned new clean coal fired power plant in the middle of nowhere in Nevada.  First, it is not any of their business, second, they don’t have enough electricity and what they have is too expensive. 

            Have you been to the beach lately?  Usually on an exceptionally clear day you can see 10 miles.  Some Florida senator said he would filibuster any oil or gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico within 150 miles of Florida. 

            Then there is Yucca Mountain. 

                        Nevada gets a K for klutz. 

                        The fuel rods that are to be stored there are one of the most valuable substances on Planet Earth.  These fuel rods won’t be stored there for 10,000 years, it will be more like 50.  They will be mined and reprocessed for the Uranium and Plutonium.  Nevada has an opportunity to become very very rich.  The price of Uranium has climbed from $3 a pound to $75.  All Nevada has to do is take title and let the Feds pay for everything.  The Feds would be happy to do that, they’re dumb too.  Nevada could be the richest state.  

So, who is at fault for this mess?  Just about everyone helps, but there are some prime contributors:

            1.  Let’s start with the media.  The media really doesn’t know anything about nuclear power.  Their only source of information is their own misinformation that they have been handing out for 20 years.  The media doesn’t comprehend how safe nuclear power is, how it works, or the benefits of nuclear power. 

            2.  Then there are our elected officials.  They know less than the media, but that doesn’t stop them from talking a lot about a subject they know nothing about.  Of course this drives their poor judgment and poor decisions. 

            3.  The environmentalists are even worse.  Some of them really do understand, but for their own reasons they do not support nuclear power. Maybe if they read this paper and found out how easy it is to handle high-level radioactive waste it would change their mind.

            4.  The citizens don’t help anything either.  They vote against everything. Basically, it is not in my backyard: no power lines, no power plants, no liquid natural gas terminals, no drilling offshore, no refineries, . . . There is no feeling of sacrifice, only selfishness.  There is no patriotism, nothing for America.  I don’t think any of these know how to spell America.

The point of this hurrang is that nuclear power gets caught up in the mess.  The major problem is not safety or technical, it is perpetual misinformation.  Maybe there is change coming, let’s hope.  Sorry about the frustrations, let’s move on. 

NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS

            Let’s talk about nuclear power plants.  Usually there are two worries:

                        Nuclear power plants are dangerous.

                        What to do with the spent fuel rods. 

            Nuclear power plants are not dangerous.  They are extremely safe.  

                        The first thing always brought up is 3 Mile Island.  The press and the media all still bring up the “accident”.  It wasn’t an accident, it was an incident.  Nothing happened.  No one was killed.  No one was exposed to radiation. 

                        Let me explain.  The Union Pacific runs through Reno.  Imagine if the Union Pacific got rid of its experienced engineers and in their place hired this group.  Sooner or later there would be a colossal wreck.

                        Reviewing that, the Union Pacific saved a few dimes, and it cost a couple of trains. 

                        That is what the 3 Mile Island power company did.  They ran the plant with cheap, not qualified, operators that could not handle a minor problem.  What happened?  The water level inside the reactor went down exposing the fuel rods.  They melted.  So what?  No one was killed, injured, or exposed to radiation.  Nothing was released outside the plant.  And, the “cheap charley” electric company lost a power plant.  

            Let’s talk about spent fuel rods.  High level radioactive waste is not a problem, it is an opportunity. 

The assessment of the given solution was given by UNR Professor Clever in 1992 and printed in the Reno newspaper.  He said, the reprocessing procedure is safe and that it was going on for 25 years.  And, of course, there have been significant improvements to reprocessing since then. 

            Of course the environmentalist and media, who technically understand nothing, would rather make a lot of noise and do their best to stop reprocessing.  They do not comprehend what a disservice they are doing to their country.    

            The Modern Nuclear Power Plant provides a superb method of reprocessing nuclear waste that is simple and straightforward.  This procedure is has been totally accomplished and demonstrated at Idaho National Laboratory at Idaho Falls.  The commercial version is being built in South Korea.    

            1.  As is done now, the used nuclear fuel rods are kept under water for 5 to 10 years.  This is excellent.  Most of the high level radioactive isotopes with short half-lives are gone. 

2.  Next the fuel rods are ground up and made into chemical soup and with a chemical process the Uranium is removed as an Uranyl salt.  This includes Uranium238, Uranium235, and the other Uranium isotopes.  This is not difficult; Uranium does this naturally in nature.  This Uranium is immediately available to be processed into new fuel rods.  The mix adjustment is elementary.  The value of this Uranium is staggering. Remember, Uranium used to be $3 a pound, now it is $75.  

3.  The next step is to heat the soup very hot; and taken through an electrolysis/electroplating procedure. (Like you did in high school)  After it is over, one of the electrodes has attached to it all the Plutonium, transuranic elements and isotopes.  This is called pyrometallurgical processing.  That electrode is scraped and the product is made into ingots.  This becomes another type of nuclear power plant fuel.  And again, it is an incredibly valuable nuclear fuel product.  

                        There is an important point to be made here.  This reprocessed nuclear fuel is just that, power plant fuel.  It doesn’t make any difference to the power plant that this fuel has impurities.  If you are building a nuclear bomb the Uranium or Plutonium must be pure.  This very expensive process is called PUREX.  These processes are totally different. 

                        What’s left?  Not much.  The Strontium90 and Cesium137 can easily processed out and stored in glass, a high Boron glass.  There is no heat problem, no radiation problem, no possible nuclear problem.  After 300 years you could eat it.  The fuel rods themselves, mainly Zirconium91, are melted and poured into ingot.  They remain radioactive for only 50 years. 

            The Strontium90, Cesium137, and Zirconium91 ought to be stored on site preferably slightly underground in a rolling trench.  There are a lot of flakes around.  There is no transportation problem. 

            So, there is no high level radioactive waste problem.  A final thought.  This reprocessing requires a great deal of heat, electricity, and some water.  All available with the modern nuclear plant.  

THE FUNCTIONAL SPECIFICATION

            This functional specification defines the requirement for this Modern Nuclear Power Plant.  Nuclear engineers provide the general and detailed engineering specification based on the functional specification.   

            PHYSICAL SECURITY AND ANTI-TERERIST REQUIREMENTS

            It is essential that the entire power plant be totally secure.  The security requirements are: 

            1.  The entire power plant area is to be physically secured.  The perimeter will be well lit, with guard towers, and 3 fences around the entire power plant.  The middle fence will be high voltage.    There will be guarded entrance control points. 

            2.  An important factor with physical security is the location and arrangement of the components of this power plant.  The most critical area is where nuclear activity is taking place.  This complex is the center of the power plant.  For security reasons, the reactors, cooling ponds, and fuel processing plant are all underground.  It should be emphasized that the reactors are grouped in 3 or 4 dispersed/separate clusters but all are reasonably near the center of the power plant and most important, underground.  An embankment 15 to 20 feet high surrounds this entire area.  

            3.  Above ground, just outside and close to the embankment, or just outside, is the location of the turbines and generators. 

            4.  Further away from the embankment the cooling towers are to be arranged in a defensive position to provide additional protection for the center of the power plant. 

            5.  Outside of the cooling towers, in some spread position, are the electrical substations, connections to the grid, and the vitrification plant.  The admistration offices can be anyplace. 

            REACTOR REQUIREMENTS

            The requirements for the reactors are not new.  Many of these features have been used for over 50 years.  However, there have been some major new developments.  Much of this research is done at the Argonne National Laboratory.  What is new is the arrangement of the components and also the current technology for handling high level radioactive waste. 

The two groups of reactors in this power plant are to be identical and kept identical.  The reactor requirements are of two types.  The first group are the currently NRC approved, GE and Westinghouse, “off the shelf”, light water reactors.  Their purpose is to provide electricity and to use the free reprocessed Uranium fuel. 

The second group of reactors are now called advanced fast neutron reactors.  The old name was breeder reactors.  Their purpose is also to provide electricity, but to use the free Plutonium fuel. The basic design is:

            1.  The fuel rods that generate the heat are basically 17% fissile Plutonium239 and 83% not fissile Uranium238.  (precise mix decided by Engineering)  The mixture of the fuel rods is not pure, only bomb grade is pure.  It is expected that the fuel rods may contain some Uranium235 and transuranic elements.  It makes no difference.  (This is explained later under reprocessing.) 

            2.  The heat transfer and coolant substance is liquid sodium, lead, or lead-bismuth. 

            3.  Inside the reactor around the outside of the fuel rods are what is called the “blanket”. The blanket consists of additional fuel rods.  The mixture of these fuel rods is mainly Uranium238.  Again, it is not a requirement for pure Uranium238.  The function of the blanket fuel rods is to capture stray neutrons because, when an uranium238 atom absorbs a neutron it transmutes into plutonium239.  There is an additional function of the blanket fuel rods.  This is the permanent storage place for all the high atomic weight high level radioactive waste. (explained later)

            4.  It is an Engineering decision, the fuel rods are expected to be replaced every 3 or 4 years and the blanket rods ~12 to 15 years.  In both cases for reprocessing.

            5.  The control rods are expected to be Cadmium. 

            6.  The heat exchanger is expected to be close to and outside the reactor.  Having liquid sodium on one side of the heat exchanger and water on the other is considered dangerous by some.  This has been done safely for 50 years.  If Engineering wants a two-stage heat exchanger with a neutral substance in the middle it is OK.

            7.  The distance from the heat exchanger to the turbine is not critical.  The turbine and generator are expected to be above ground and outside the embankment. 

            8.  The rated output of each reactor is expected to be in the range of 1 – 1.2 GW.  It is expected that Engineering will decide the precise most efficient output.  The reactors will be the same and remain standardized.  Each cluster of reactors is expected to have a minimum rated output of 3+ GWs

            9.  It is a function of Engineering to decide the most efficient location of the reactors relative to each other and also the location of the clusters of reactors to each other. 

            10.  It is also a function of Engineering to determine the number, size and location of the cooling ponds relative to the reactors and the processing/reprocessing plants. 

            11.  Each cluster of reactors has a single control room that is underground.  Outside the embankment would be dual master control rooms, one active, the other a backup.

PROCESSING/REPROCESSING PLANT REQUIREMENTS

            A key component of the Modern Nuclear Power Plant is the processing/reprocessing plant.  This plant is an abbreviated/smaller version of the spent fuel rod reprocessing plant being built in South Korea.  There is no technical breakthrough needed; only the most efficient design of the plant.  The processing/reprocessing capability has two functions. 

1. Processing fuel rods to be placed into the reactor.  

2. Reprocessing the spent fuel rods to totally handle the high level radioactive waste and capturing the nuclear fuel that has been created.

The fuel processing plant will be fully capable of total processing and reprocessing all facets of nuclear fuel including:

1.      Separation out of all Uranium

2.      Separation out of all high atomic weight elements, including all isotopes

            3.  Separation out and verification of Cesium137 and Strontium90

            4.  Separation out and ingot preparation of all Zirconium91

            5.  Fuel rod preparation

            6.  Blanket fuel rod preparation

These reactors are identical but the composition of the fuel rods is expected to vary depending on what is available at the time reprocessing.  That sounds bizarre but actually it is very simple.  The basic mix is 17% Plutonium239 and 83% Uranium238.  The mix can vary if there is Uranium235 available.  It is a basic function Processing/reprocessing lab to determine the proper mix of Uranium235 & 238 and Plutonium239.  This is a very simple, precomputed, table function used to provide the precise fission mix inside the reactor. 

The blanket fuel rods are even more simple to prepare.  The load consists tons and tons of relatively pure Uranium238.  What are added are the transuratic elements that make up the high level radioactive waste.  This would include all the isotopes and elements above the atomic weight of Thorium232.  The total weight of this group is not significant and can be measured in pounds.  What this really amounts to is a safe place to store the high level radioactive waste indefinitely and in the process much of it will be fissioned as fuel. 

CONCLUSION

The Modern Nuclear Power Plant sounds complicated but it really isn’t.  There are no technical breakthroughs needed.  What is required is some superb engineering on the placement of the components for the most efficient arrangement. 

The recommended action is to design and build the prototype plant.  A fully operational 10 gigawatt plant.  This plant should be operational for three to five years.  Surely there would be some desired design changes to make the plant more efficient.  At this point start a program to build at least 20 more Modern Nuclear Power Plants.


 

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