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What about nuclear power?

  • 1.  What about nuclear power?

    Posted 07-19-2022 12:43 PM

    I have questions about nuclear power and its role in our electrical power system. What fraction of our energy is presently produced by nuclear power? Should it be increased? Are safety and cost acceptable? Are new technologies available or coming? Could new Small Modular Reactors be a sound approach?



    ------------------------------
    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 07-20-2022 12:17 PM
    Some good questions, Bill.  Environmentally, nuclear is probably the best form of power generation we currently have available to us.  Economically, however, it is relatively expensive.

    ------------------------------
    Michael W. Hall, PE, M.ASCE
    Sr. Engineer
    Dolese Bros. Co.
    Oklahoma City, OK
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 07-24-2022 10:33 AM
    Nuclear contributes 8% to the US energy supply as of 2021 per the US Energy Information Administration. I think the fundamental problem with nuclear energy in the US is the lack of a coherent energy policy and government commitment to nuclear energy. I do not see this changing any time soon. The economics still need to work - including allowance for massive cost and schedule over runs - and the nuclear waste disposal issue needs to be addressed. This is also part of policy and commitment. Then there's public perception of the relative risk nuclear poses. This may be the greatest obstacle. I'm not very optimistic about new plants. However, I do question the decisions that have been made to shutter existing plans before their end of life - or to consider life extension. I really do not know enough about the decision making process to knowledgably comment, but these decisions feel questionable.

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    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX
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  • 4.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 07-25-2022 10:05 AM
    Since I am not very knowledgeable about the world of nuclear power, I will instead share thoughts from Bill Nye's book "Unstoppable" about climate change. The summary is that he shared a lot of peoples' concerns about viable long-term waste disposal options, but also thought it would be valuable to increase use of nuclear during the "short-term" while scaling up renewable sources such as solar, wind, etc. Sounds reasonable in theory, I wouldn't be surprised if the reality ended up being more complicated.

    Unrelated, I met someone from Germany over the weekend and they commented that they did not agree with their country's decision to deactivate their nuclear plants recently as "turning those plants on and off" is a multi-month affair that could leave their country in need of energy and without a way to create it.

    ------------------------------
    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer
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  • 5.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 07-25-2022 01:26 PM
    You should look into Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro Ga.  I don't know the details, but they've experienced 12 billion dollars in cost overruns.

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    Todd Powell P.E., M.ASCE
    City Engineer
    City of Thomasville
    Thomasville GA
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 08-03-2022 11:06 AM
    Vogtle is a cautionary tale of cost overruns for conventional large nuclear plants, as have been several others. It's said to be safer than conventional plants in that core cooling doesn't require electricity, but nearly doubling its estimated cost begs for an analysis of why.
    I'm wondering if time and cost overruns are a universal problem. Do other countries experience the same problem?

    ------------------------------
    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 08-02-2022 01:57 PM

    Issues on this topic are plentiful – both in favor and against. On one hand, scientific/technical and economic standpoints advocate in favor of it – arguing it as a clean power source. On the other, public perception of it – is one of fear associated with very high risk and huge financial losses. The disasters (the recent catastrophic ones were the Chernobyl 1986 and the Fukushima 2011) starting from 1957 – are a showcase of situations that raise many questions. The Wiki article shows a chronicle of nuclear accidents and radiation hazards.

    • The 1992 National Academies Publication 1601 shows that Europe is the major producer of Nuclear Power (France 77% and Germany 33% followed by Japan 26% and USA 19%).

    • The World Nuclear Association in its 2022 article Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors poses as a major advocacy group for generation of Nuclear Electric Power.

    • GAIA – An Atlas of Planet Management (Anchor Books 1984; N Myers Ed) made an excellent case – let's say from public and environmental perspectives: The Nuclear Industry is sick. Far from providing a cheap and plentiful supply of energy that would satisfy world demand for the foreseeable future, it has provided us with expensive energy source fraught with intractable technical problems and unacceptable environmental risks. Long-lived radioactive wastes cast a shadow which reaches across the generations. Perhaps the result of such a public perception has resulted in less and less numbers of Nuclear Power Plants being built across the globe.

    • The fear of radiation hazard becomes clear if one considers the half-life (the length of time it takes for half its radioactivity to die away) of nuclear wastes a reactor produces – which is in the order of 24,000 years and more.

    • Apart from such arguments – one can also discern that in the Sun-Earth thermodynamic energy balance – the Nuclear Power amounts to a net addition of heat energy. Therefore, may not be as climate friendly as one thinks it is (see Entropy and Everything Else and Warming Climate and Entropy).

    -----

    Dr. Dilip K Barua, PhD

    Website

    Google Scholar




  • 8.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 08-03-2022 11:05 AM
    Thanks for the useful perspective, Dilip.
    This recent magazine item shed some light on the newest technologies.
    https://time.com/6117041/nuclear-energy-reactors-green/
    Bill

    ------------------------------
    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 08-10-2022 10:20 AM
    134 million miles - 
    Naval reactors have an outstanding record of over 134 million miles safely steamed on nuclear power, and they have amassed over 5700 reactor-years of safe operation. Currently, the <g-bubble jscontroller="QVaUhf" data-ci="" data-du="200" data-tp="5" jsaction="R9S7w:VqIRre;" jsshadow="">U.S.</g-bubble> has 83 nuclear-powered ships: 72 submarines, 10 aircraft carriers and one research vessel.


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    Thomas Halmi P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal Engineer
    Steelcase
    Rockford MI
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  • 10.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 08-15-2022 01:15 PM
    The National Academies published a new report on the societal challenges of nuclear power.

    https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/26606/understanding-the-societal-challenges-facing-nuclear-power-proceedings-of-a?utm_source=Division+on+Earth+and+Life+Studies&utm_campaign=951a3a3f6f-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_08_04_02_00_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3c0b1ad5c8-951a3a3f6f-278795949&mc_cid=951a3a3f6f&mc_eid=65244f51b1

    ------------------------------
    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 08-22-2022 10:22 AM
    We want the prime mover for electrical energy, from neuclear energy heat is produced, with water forming steam, movement can be doing. This principle is not replacing. Why not go for solar energy.

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    Alex Thomas R.Eng, C.Eng, M.ASCE
    Engineer
    Ajit Associates+Acd
    CochinAlexThomasR.Eng, C.Eng, M.ASCEIndia
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 08-24-2022 06:10 PM
    Alex: I'm hoping someone more knowledgeable can offer information on solar energy. Meanwhile, the popular press articles I read indicate some controversy about how much solar energy we can generate and transmit and how rapidly we can make it happen. I think the argument is that it's going to take years for solar and wind power to replace fossil fuels but we need to make the transition sooner to prevent excessive global warming. If so, nuclear power might be able to fill the gap.
    There are also issues with waste products from manufacturing and decommissioning solar panels, just as there are with nuclear.
    I get the impression that nothing is as simple as it seems.
    Bill

    ------------------------------
    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 08-25-2022 02:28 PM

    Further to Bill's, perhaps the 2010 National Academies Publication 12987 is an excellent source examining all renewable energy sources. It compares the on-going projects and future potentials of renewables in China and USA.

    Also can be noted – as I have tried to point out in my Warming Climate and Entropy article, the three energy sources in harnessing of the natural existence - that we know and are already in various phases of implementation all around the world are: (1) the solar power using photovoltaic panels, (2) the wind power, and (3) the hydropower (rivers and streams, tide and waves). They seem to be the only ones that do not add to the net one-way contribution to the energy balance. However attractive they are – the feasibility of such measures must examine local adverse impacts, if any.

    -----

    Dr. Dilip K Barua, PhD

    Website

    Google Scholar




  • 14.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 08-29-2022 05:05 PM
    Hello:
    Following the feeds regarding cost and schedule overruns on nuclear power. So, what I am going to say will sound simplistic to most of you. Why, because it is. I was designing and constructing nuclear power plants from about 1970 - 1979. I did a lot of structural design and later had field duty in the construction. So, I observed the issues in the industry from the engineering and construction which many engineers at the time were not exposed to. Later in life, not to long ago my latest company designed, fabricated and constructed nuclear components for the latest PWR AP1000 design. We also assisted China with their design and construction of AP1000 plants. China has now announced the increase in nuclear power plant development as the US and other western countries continue to diminish their program. Killing the nuclear industry in the US after Three Mile Island was a very bad decision. One can see the impacts today.
    The bottom line is this. The industry has developed the technology to the point that we know how to estimate, design, manufacture and construct components, assemblies and structures with great reliability and quality. If we set aside these previous variables, we are left with the excessive bureaucracy, politics and public opinion. These are the risky variables which lead to cost and schedule overruns due to very bad decision making. This is what needs to be worked on. If we remain pure to truly solve these important problems, we must minimize the latter issues.

    ------------------------------
    Vito Rotondi, (Retired)
    Arch. S.E. P.E. Life M ASCE
    Westmont Illinois
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 10-10-2022 09:46 AM
    For several years, I have been speculating on how nuclear plants could be feasible as a substitute for all of the fossil fuel-based power plants in the country. It's well-known that countries like Japan have taken a lead on using nuclear power for energy, but that has remained a double-edged sword all this time.

    In 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 hit Japan, and after a tsunami that followed, nuclear power plants ran out of the power they needed to cool their resources. This triggered meltdowns, and a need for long-term evacuations throughout that area of Japan. With the media circulation about those meltdowns, and without sufficient education on nuclear resources compared to the fossil fuels other power plants burn, the public clearly does not trust nuclear power as much as fossil fuels.

    From there is the long-term commitment necessary from companies and/or the government to fund more nuclear power. Although there is plenty more fuel to use, the power plants need to be built near a constant water source to stabilize temperatures, and be prepared to stand tall again environmental disasters. Given both sides of the environmental issues, I doubt there will be long-term commitment to nuclear power in this country any time soon.

    ------------------------------
    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Student
    Bexley OH
    granato.3@...
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 10-11-2022 08:00 AM
    Alexander:
    I believe that you are referring to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The 9.0 earthquake is the most powerful recorded earthquake in Japan. The result was a 13-14 meter high tsunami. The plant was sited in a low area causing the backup electrical generators to fail and resulted in lack of backup power to the cooling pumps. It was an early BWR Mark 1 reactor. 
    The point I want to make is that as engineers, we learn from our past mistakes and improve future design and we move forward. 
    Case in point is the nearby Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power plant was also struck by the same tsunami and it continued to operate properly. It was designed to withstand flooding. These plants were designed and built many years ago. Hopefully we learn as we develop new technologies and avoid the blunders of the past.
    So I am very comfortable believing that new power plants are designed to withstand extreme situations and provide safe and clean power generation in the future. We just have to be objective and educate the people accordingly.





  • 17.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 10-11-2022 12:36 PM
    Hello Vito,

    Yes, I was referring to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. I learned all about what happened years ago, and I am sure that the American public will not be so quick to valuing nuclear power again after all the news about this and other disasters.

    It will probably take more reevaluation of the most infamous disasters to turn the public tide. I have heard of a mini-series about what happened in Chernobyl, but I have not heard anything about Three Mile Island for a long time.

    ------------------------------
    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Student
    Bexley OH
    granato.3@...
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: What about nuclear power?

    Posted 10-11-2022 03:33 PM
    Alexander:
    I was a senior structural engineer designing BWRs and PWRs for 10 years prior to the March 1979 Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant Unit 2 incident. TMI was a typical Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR). I left the industry in May of 1979. I could quickly read the tea leaves that the negative press would in the end lead to the closure of the Nuclear industry.
    Here is my quick analysis of the situation. 
    1. There were no fatalities
    2. Radiation release was very very small
    3. The TMI Unit 1 continued to operate for another 40 years and shut down in 2019.
    4. All safety systems performed as designed to mitigate  an uncontrolled shutdown of the reactors.
    5.Having spent the previous 10 yrs developing processes, procedures and analytics working for Sargent and Lundy engineers I had complete confidence that the safe shutdown confirmed our design processes for PWR. Today I still believe that premise.
    6.Chernoble was a totally different design. A RBMK 1000. A graphite moderated reactor. Graphite burns! Caught fire! See the following to an excellent video aregarding RBMK reactors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDPh1JA72nk
    7. New PWR are AP1000. China is in earnest to build AP1000 version reactors. 
    8. The new Vogtle Plants in the US currently under construction are AP1000's

    So, my suggestion is that as technology advances, we learn from our lessons and proceed with the most effective solutions.  Fusion reactors are many years away and will not help us with our current global energy demands. The decisions being made today are based on political factors and not the best for people. We need to learn objectively and make decisions accordingly. As current nuclear plants are decommissioned today we need to supplement them with newer technology plants. Let's not make the mistakes Germany recently made in shutting down their reactors that still have substantial remaining life.

    On Tue, Oct 11, 2022 at 11:38 AM Alexander Granato via ASCE Collaborate <Mail@...> wrote:
    Hello Vito, Yes, I was referring to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. I learned all about what happened years ago, and I am sure that the... -posted to the "Professional and Career Topics" community
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    Re: What about nuclear power?
    Reply to Group Online Reply to Group
    Alexander Granato
    Oct 11, 2022 12:36 PM
    Alexander Granato
    Hello Vito,

    Yes, I was referring to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. I learned all about what happened years ago, and I am sure that the American public will not be so quick to valuing nuclear power again after all the news about this and other disasters.

    It will probably take more reevaluation of the most infamous disasters to turn the public tide. I have heard of a mini-series about what happened in Chernobyl, but I have not heard anything about Three Mile Island for a long time.

    ------------------------------
    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Student
    Bexley OH
    granato.3@...
    ------------------------------

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    Original Message:
    Sent: 10/11/2022 12:22:00 PM
    From: Alexander Granato
    Subject: RE: What about nuclear power?

    Hello Vito,

    Yes, I was referring to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. I learned all about what happened years ago, and I am sure that the American public will not be so quick to valuing nuclear power again after all the news about this and other disasters.

    It will probably take more reevaluation of the most infamous disasters to turn the public tide. I have heard of a mini-series about what happened in Chernobyl, but I have not heard anything about Three Mile Island for a long time.

    ------------------------------
    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Student
    Bexley OH
    granato.3@...
    ------------------------------

    Original Message:
    Sent: 10-10-2022 11:42 PM
    From: Vito Rotondi
    Subject: What about nuclear power?

    Alexander:
    I believe that you are referring to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The 9.0 earthquake is the most powerful recorded earthquake in Japan. The result was a 13-14 meter high tsunami. The plant was sited in a low area causing the backup electrical generators to fail and resulted in lack of backup power to the cooling pumps. It was an early BWR Mark 1 reactor. 
    The point I want to make is that as engineers, we learn from our past mistakes and improve future design and we move forward. 
    Case in point is the nearby Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power plant was also struck by the same tsunami and it continued to operate properly. It was designed to withstand flooding. These plants were designed and built many years ago. Hopefully we learn as we develop new technologies and avoid the blunders of the past.
    So I am very comfortable believing that new power plants are designed to withstand extreme situations and provide safe and clean power generation in the future. We just have to be objective and educate the people accordingly.



    Original Message:
    Sent: 10/9/2022 10:53:00 AM
    From: Alexander Granato
    Subject: RE: What about nuclear power?

    For several years, I have been speculating on how nuclear plants could be feasible as a substitute for all of the fossil fuel-based power plants in the country. It's well-known that countries like Japan have taken a lead on using nuclear power for energy, but that has remained a double-edged sword all this time.

    In 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 hit Japan, and after a tsunami that followed, nuclear power plants ran out of the power they needed to cool their resources. This triggered meltdowns, and a need for long-term evacuations throughout that area of Japan. With the media circulation about those meltdowns, and without sufficient education on nuclear resources compared to the fossil fuels other power plants burn, the public clearly does not trust nuclear power as much as fossil fuels.

    From there is the long-term commitment necessary from companies and/or the government to fund more nuclear power. Although there is plenty more fuel to use, the power plants need to be built near a constant water source to stabilize temperatures, and be prepared to stand tall again environmental disasters. Given both sides of the environmental issues, I doubt there will be long-term commitment to nuclear power in this country any time soon.

    ------------------------------
    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Student
    Bexley OH
    <maskemail>granato.3@...</maskemail>

    Original Message:
    Sent: 07-19-2022 12:39 PM
    From: William McAnally
    Subject: What about nuclear power?

    I have questions about nuclear power and its role in our electrical power system. What fraction of our energy is presently produced by nuclear power? Should it be increased? Are safety and cost acceptable? Are new technologies available or coming? Could new Small Modular Reactors be a sound approach?



    ------------------------------
    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Columbus MS
    ------------------------------