[mythtv-users] [Slightly OT] solar power for all our gadgets

Chad masterclc at gmail.com
Thu Mar 19 15:36:48 UTC 2009

On Thu, Mar 19, 2009 at 6:58 AM, Carl Reynolds
<mythtv-users at hyperbole-software.com> wrote:

> I worked in the US Navy Nuclear Power program in the 1970s and help with the
> construction and operation of several nuclear power plants. I also have a
> degree in Physics and studied Nuclear Engineering and Nuclear Physics in
> school. It was the lax standards used by builders of civilian nuclear power
> plants that caused me to decide not to continue  my career with nuclear
> power when I got out of the Navy. Your implications that nuclear power is
> perfectly safe and it is only the rantings of a few radicals that have
> convinced the public that nuclear power can not be trusted have no basis in
> fact.
> The fact is that there have been numerous accidents in US nuclear power
> plants because of short cuts being taken in construction and training of the
> people who run them. Most of the accidents are not serious enough to have
> been brought to the public attention, therefore you may be excused for not
> being aware of them, You are correct that the dangers of exposure to
> radiation from any nuclear power plant in the US are quite minimal. However,
> you, along with every one else who discusses the pros and cons of nuclear
> power have ignored the two major issues that make nuclear power plants a
> menace.
> First, no one has come up with a way of safely disposing of the huge amounts
> of radioactive waste generated by a nuclear power plant. When a plant is
> operated for a period of twenty years (the minimum amount of time necessary
> to break even on the construction cost of the plant) it will generate a mass
> of radioactive waste equal to the mass of all the material that went into
> the original construction of the plant. Also keep in mind that it is not
> safe to operate any nuclear power plant for more that forty to fifty years
> because of  the deterioration of materials due to exposure to radiation.
> This deterioration requires complete replacement of the plant at end of life
> leaving another vast pile of radioactive material.
> The radioactive waste from a nuclear plant will remain deadly for thousands
> of years  after the original plant has ceased to exist. We have absolutely
> no way to guarantee that we can protect future generations from being
> exposed to this radiation. We bury it in the ground and hope that the ground
> around it stays stable and put up signs that say 'Don't dig here', but who
> is to guarantee that the signs will continue to exist a thousand years from
> now or that people will be able to read it? When I've asked people in the
> industry how we are dealing with this, the response is always, "We'll figure
> that out at some point, but nuclear power is too important now for us to
> hold off on production while we figure out how we will protect people in the
> future from our radioactive waste."
> The second, and possibly more important, issue with nuclear power is that it
> uses the Carnot cycle for generation of electricity. Let me note here that
> this problem is not unique to nuclear power plants. All electrical
> generation plants that use any heat source to run their generators use a
> Carnot cycle engine and should probably be replaced for the same reasons we
> should not be building more nuclear power plants.
> A Carnot cycle engine, by definition, uses heat to turn water into steam and
> uses that steam as a motive power to produce work (such as generating
> electricity). Once the work is extracted from the steam, it is turned back
> into water and heated again to produce steam. This is where the Carnot cycle
> engine becomes dangerous, because in turning the spent steam back into water
> we have to extract and throw away any latent energy in the steam. This
> latent energy is thrown into the environment as heat. By definition, the
> maximum theoretical efficiency of any Carnot cycle engine is 33% and most
> run at closer to 20% or even 15%. This means that any where from 66% to 85%
> of all the energy used to run the Carnot cycle engine is being dumped
> directly into the environment.
> Nuclear power is not the answer to all of our energy problems as some would
> have you believe. It is not even an answer to our energy problems and I hope
> that we will wake up soon and run (not walk) away from nuclear power. While
> it has been shown that carbon is having an effect on our environment, no one
> is talking about the huge amounts of heat we are adding directly to the
> environment a a result of all the Carnot cycle engines we use nor what
> affect that may have on global warming.
> Carl.

Very interesting!  Thank you very much for your insight.  As we run
from nuclear energy, what forms of energy production do you suggest
should we be running towards?  If that reads sarcastic, it's not.  I'm
honestly interested in what your opinion is for a real fix to the
problem if nuclear isn't it.

Thank you,


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