Navigation Links
Nuclear cannibals
Date:3/4/2008

Nuclear energy production must increase by more than 10 percent each year from 2010 to 2050 to meet all future energy demands and replace fossil fuels, but this is an unsustainable prospect. According to a report published in Inderscience's International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology such a large growth rate will require a major improvement in nuclear power efficiency otherwise each new power plant will simply cannibalize the energy produced by earlier nuclear power plants.

Physicist Joshua Pearce of Clarion University of Pennsylvania has attempted to balance the nuclear books and finds the bottom line simply does not add up. There are several problems that he says cannot be overcome if the nuclear power option is taken in preference to renewable energy sources.

For example, the energy input required from mining and processing uranium ore to its use in a power plant that costs huge amounts of energy to build and operate cannot be offset by power production in a high growth scenario. There are also growth limits set by the grade of uranium ore. "The limit of uranium ore grade to offset greenhouse gas emissions is significantly higher than the purely thermodynamic limit set by the energy payback time," he explains.

In addition, nuclear power produces a lot of heat as a byproduct and this directly heats the Earth. This is only a relatively small effect, but as energy consumption grows it must be taken into consideration when balancing the energy equation.

However, it is the whole-of-life cycle analysis that Pearce has investigated that shows nuclear power is far from the "emission-free panacea" claimed by many of its proponents. Each stage of the nuclear-fuel cycle including power plant construction, mining/milling uranium ores, fuel conversion, enrichment (or de-enrichment of nuclear weapons), fabrication, operation, decommissioning, and for short- and long-term waste disposal contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, he explains.

Nuclear may stack up against the rampant fossil-fuel combustion we see today, but only by a factor of 12. This means that if nuclear power were taken as the major option over the next forty years or so, we would be in no better a position in terms of emissions and reliance on a single major source of energy than we are today given the enormous growth nuclear required over that timescale.

Pearce's analysis is based on current practice in the United States with regard to the mining and enrichment of ore. He suggests that rather than abandoning nuclear power, efforts should be made to improve its efficiency considerably. First, we could start utilizing only the highest-concentration ores and switch to fuel enrichment based on gas centrifuge technology, which is much more energy-efficient than current gaseous diffusion methods.

Nuclear plants might be used as combined heat and power systems so the "waste" heat is used, rather than allowing them to vent huge quantities of heat to the environment at the end of the electricity generation cycle. Pearce also suggests that we could "down-blend" nuclear weapons stockpiles to produce nuclear power plant fuel.


'/>"/>

Contact: Albert Ang
a.ang@inderscience.com
Inderscience Publishers
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Group led by Stanford physicist says theres an urgent need for nuclear detectives
2. Managing nuclear wastes for the millennia
3. Improving detection of nuclear smuggling goal of computer model of mechanical engineer
4. Where does stored nuclear waste go?
5. Nuclear desalination
6. Choices and Challenges forum to address nuclear power issue
7. SNM applauds NAS study showing need to restore federal nuclear medicine research funding
8. Homeland Security awards 2 grants to Rutgers for nuclear threat detection
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/1/2017)... -- Aware, Inc. (NASDAQ: AWRE), a leading supplier of biometrics ... has resigned, effective March 3, 2017, as co-Chief ... Treasurer of Aware citing a desire to retire.  Mr. ... the Board of Directors of Aware. ... co-President, General Counsel has been named Chief Executive Officer, ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... , Feb. 27, 2017   Strategic Cyber ... announced it has led a $3.5 million investment in  ... platform. Strategic Cyber Ventures is DC based and is ... Hank Thomas . Ron Gula , also ... Ventures, also participated in this series A round of ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... and PORTLAND, Ore. , Feb. 22, ... Avamere Family of Companies (Avamere Health Services, Infinity Rehab, ... six-month research study that will apply the power of ... senior living and health centers. By analyzing data streaming ... gain insights into physical and environmental conditions, and obtain ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/22/2017)... LEXINGTON, Mass. , March 22, 2017   ... collections, today announced that Doctors Pathology Service ... mid-Atlantic region of the United States ... the Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) to ... researchers. The novel program, announced in ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... March 22, 2017   VWR ... of product and service solutions to laboratory ... has acquired EPL Archives, Inc., an international ... the entire regulated product research, development and ... storage and ancillary services. EPL Archives is ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... ... 21, 2017 , ... Aqua Design Innovations (ADI) has launched ... over $30,000 in the first 40 minutes of crowdfunding. EcoQube is a living ... and affordably, anywhere. , “Simply add fertilized water and in less than 10 ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... ... March 22, 2017 , ... March 22, 2017...Council for Agricultural Science and ... one that utilizes technological innovation in smart, sustainable ways. Humans depend on plants for ... aesthetics and environmental stability. This paper is the first in a series that connects ...
Breaking Biology Technology: