Re: first lecture of the decade
You went there. They went there. Oh God, NOBODY HAD TO GO THERE BUT YOU WENT THERE ANYWAY.
244 posts • joined 7 Jun 2007
I assume you mean 34 kWhr. That's about five pounds-worth of electricity and looking at Powerwall prices you'll be paying something like ten or fifteen thousand pounds for an installation with a twenty-year life, which seems -- high.
But even if you fit that battery, the only way you can be running a house in winter on five kWhr per day is by a) freezing or b) not being in it, or c) heating it by burning something -- gas/oil/logs/peat/furniture. You certainly won't be charging your car from that battery.
Electric cars are great, part of the solution, and electrification of everything -- with its easy interchangeability of primary sources -- is the way to go. But the focus then has to be low-carbon primary energy with power for to support heating, trains, workplace, vehicle charging, synthetic fuels etc consumption. That puts us into the kW+ per person range and the only practical way forward there is nuclear (and no batteries are needed.)
Highly enriched uranium is fuel, an expensively-obtained fuel at that.
700kgs could be well over a billion kWh, £100M+ of electricity depending on the enrichment.
If we can't use it, the fault is not in the material, but in ourselves.
It's renamed "waste" and we're happy to give it away!
Where is Lewis Page when we need him?
Without a figure for moles of carbon atoms (or tonnes of alkanes or whatever) per hectare per year, this story is effectively worthless.
Forestry can be good for agriculture, so that might well make sense, but the oil would be a byproduct, and a small one. Once you include the diesel to get the logs to the processor (and observe that the plantations are deliberately dispersed, increasing the shipping costs) you might not even be breaking even in carbon terms.
Eucalypts grow fast but not that fast, and biology isn't that efficient. If you want solar energy and you can spare the land, use solar cells and make fuel (like ammonia, say) directly, or use the yield to displace fuel consumption from something like desalination that can handle variable supply.
Better still, stop messing around, use forestry to manage farmland efficiently (where that's required) and get energy, at the true scale we need, from nukes.
Interception is legitimate, on a private network. But it doesn't require certificates to be signed by a publicly trusted CA. All that's required is that an internal CA is trusted by the machines that are being intercepted.
Evidently there are machines on the Ministry of Finance network that the administrators of the systems do not control. I wonder if they are:
I really don't know which would be worse! Either way it can't do the bond rating much good -- would you lend to an entity that can't control its own network?
Don't forget that current electricity demand is nowhere near total energy demand. We have to electrify heating and transport, and eventually things like brick kilns, steel foundries, cement kilns and other carbon-fed processes.
100 kWh per head per day, or 5kW per person -- at this level of precision they're the same -- is the level to keep in mind. And common decency, if nothing else, means we'll need to deliver that to ten billions by the end of the century. That's the real reason we need lots of nukes and lots of innovation in their designs.
All of the talk about automated truck and truckers is missing the point. If you don't have to pay a driver, there's little point in sending a 40-ton tractor/trailer rig down a B-road.
The freight delivery future is self-driving containers -- vehicles that occupy a (modified) ten-foot container module, for automatic handling on trains and ships (and, yes, trucks sometimes) and autonomous delivery on their own wheels when road is best.
Sorry, I think this bit is wrong:
"... cannot access the encrypted uploaded data, absolving themselves of any responsibility for contents of the files."
This should surely be:
"... cannot access the encrypted uploaded data, in a somewhat implausible attempt to absolve themselves ..."
Low energy density is one approach, but there is an alternative. A liquid core -- fluorides of uranium disolved in fluorides of light elements -- can change density, reducing or even stifling the reaction as it heats up. If it all gets too much, it can change shape, by escaping or being decanted from the low-surface-area compact reaction vessel that can reach criticality around a moderator, into high-surface-area pans and pipes that can cool in air.
I think the point here is that we are mad, as a high energy consuming country, to have abandoned nuclear energy design, a new field teeming with possibilities, simply because gas looked cheap. That's why we're faced with a souped-up seventies design for generators that will be commissioned in the twenties.
Good luck to Hitachi though. I hope they make money from making electricity. When you consider there are firms -- I'm looking at EON, among others -- that bill us for NOT turning their windmills, I think the Japanese approach is more honest.
As always: reprocess, partition, re-use, and wait.
- Left-over uranium -- hundreds of tonnes per reactor-year. Uranium is stable and harmless if it's kept as the oxide (or, surprisingly, if it's dissolved in the sea, because there's so much there already, it won't make a difference.) It can be used to breed fuel, though, so worth hanging on to.
- Plutonium bred in the reactor -- less than one tonne per reactor-year. Keep it, and save mining uranium by consuming it as fuel in future reactors. Don't be spooked by the name: Plutonium for bombs has to be specially made. A rational terrorist wanting nuclear explosive would use natural uranium and enrich it, as the Iranians are said to be doing.
- Short lived fission products -- hundreds of kilos per reactor year. Handle with great care, for a while, and with caution for longer. These materials are dangerous to be close to for many years and must be kept out of the biosphere for hundreds (but not thousands) of years.
- Long lived fission products -- kilos per reactor year. Obviously much less radioactive than the short-lived products, the rational thing is simply to abandon in the deep ocean. But it appears possible to transmute these products to short lived waste with neutron irradiation, and that would be a more "grown-up" approach!
The point about nuclear waste is the quantities: once the re-useable components are removed, the volumes are million-fold reduced over combustion energy. A year's fission-product waste from a reactor, once it had cooled off for thirty years or so, could sit on a few dozen yards of industrial shelving. A facility to retain the waste of a largely nuclear Britain for the necessary 500 years or so would take up less space than an industrial estate.
The idea of nuclear waste as being dangerous for tens of thousands of years is an Americanism, arising from their reluctance to reprocess. If you leave it all mixed up in the fuel rod, then yes, it is hard to manage. But if you make the sensible choices, then the problem -- looked at on the scale appropriate to global energy generation -- goes away.
This is an odd article as it misses a number of important points:
-- There's no obligation to store email for seven years or any other time. There ARE obligations for different times for different things -- payroll, contracts...
-- There's no magic cutoff at seven years. If you're holding information that's ten years old, and it's relevant, the court can order you to discover it
-- Filing system documents are just as vulnerable as email to being produced in 'discovery'
The proper approach is
-- A clear policy which is appropriate for your business (so it covers stuff you keep indefinitely, and a cut-off date for things you don't want) and isn't just wriggling to avoid legal obligations
-- Implementation of your policy -- IE you actually DO delete stuff older than eighteen months. Crucial.
-- Implementation of a 'legal hold' so stuff which is being discovered at month 17 won't be deleted before it can be produced.
Unless you can actually delete (from archive and tapes) and retain for legal holds, I would say that you're better off keeping everything, and cataloguing your tapes REALLY carefully.
... We have digestions! It all ends up as lipids, and glucose and amino acids. Guts are the end of an evolutionary process that has happened under selection pressure from the wildest diets. If it tastes OK, it's not taken in excess, it's not part of some organism's defences, and it's not designed or packaged to get into the body, it'll be fine.
.. It sets farmers to work watering and fertilising genes for glyphosate resistance (in the crop.) Monsanto doesn't mind because glyphosate is long out of patent, but we are on the point of losing one of the safest and most useful herbicides as those genes are made available to cross, using the usual means, into every weed species.
1) It's tastier because it's been hung properly. I grant you that non-organic producers could do that, but, by and large, they don't.
2) Because antibiotics are not used as growth enhancers a) it's not promoting antibiotic resistance in the wild, and b) the beast was older when killed and consequently tastier. I grant you that producers don't need to be organic to refrain from antibiotics but, by and large, they don't.
What we want, for meat and eggs, is a legitimate marker for 'sensibly raised' which doesn't go the whole organic hog. And we could eat less, better, meat.
The waste is:
1) Transuranic actinides (Plutonium etc) created from neutron activation of fuel e.g. U238 + n -> Pu239. This is either fissile and so fuel directly, or if you leave it in the reactor long enough it will absorb enough neutrons to become fissile. So, some combination of reprocessing, or a system like liquid cores which allow materials to remain in the core for a long time.
2) Fission waste (Cesium 137, Strontium 90, Technetium 99) -- when it's fresh, this is the famous High Level Waste. You get something under one ton per year from a large power reactor. Reprocess out of the fuel matrix, put it somewhere dry and cool (without losing it) and wait. This stuff is so very active, that it's pretty much faded away in about 300 years (10 Cs137 half-lives -- 1000-fold reduction). Tc99 is VERY long lived, so it's not particularly active, but it could be destroyed by neutron activation if it's a concern. 500 years seems a long time, but it's not the absurd tens of thousands of years that you get if you don't re-process and leave the waste mixed in with actinides.
3) Operations (hats and gloves) and decommisioning waste created by contamination with fission waste or neutron activation of the structure also tends to be short lived and dilute. Wait. Let the decommisioning sinking fund grow, the activity decay, and your robots get better. But mainly design reactor buildings and housings to be re-used and replaced in regular maintenance.
Seriously, waste is a legitimate issue, but in the face of the prize -- zero carbon, reliable, sustainable energy -- it's one that we can deal with by management. The impact, in size and risk, on the surface of the earth and its inhabitants is tiny, invisible, compared with the gigatonnes of waste dropped into the atmosphere, uncontrolled, by gas and coal.
Looking at our logs, malware is mostly from compromised WordPress sites and third-rank online merchants. Compromise victims. Like phishing sites, the porn-merchants don't want people blocked from their sites by their AV, so they keep them 'clean.'
But my data are incomplete. So it's a genuine question.
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