Artificial Leaf Update

April 2, 2014

New York Times:

Discovering a brilliant way to efficiently generate hydrogen is hard enough. Then there’s everything that comes after, such as getting consumers accustomed to what’s needed for it to work, such as fuel cells — which convert hydrogen into usable electricity.

This is comparable to what Elon Musk struggles with in selling Tesla’s electric cars. He has to persuade the public not only to buy a new kind of car, but all that goes with it: the infrastructure of batteries, charging stations, high-voltage home plugs and new kinds of auto mechanics.

“Whenever you make something that’s two steps removed from an infrastructure, that’s the big problem you have going to market: You have to change an entire infrastructure,” Mr. Nocera said. “If we had fuel cells in your house and your car, then everybody would be trying to implement the artificial leaf right now.”

The other obstacle is the marketplace. Only a few years ago, he said, “the magic number was $3 ‘gas gallon equivalent.’ ” In other words, could he produce the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline and keep costs around $3? Even as he closed in on that number, the old fossil-fuel industry pulled the rug out from under him with a surge in cheap natural-gas extraction, driven by hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Seemingly overnight, the magic number became “a buck fifty,” he said.

But therein lies a glimmer of hope. Hydrogen can be produced by fracking, although it comes at a cost of carbon pollution. Still, widespread fracking might lead to widespread hydrogen use. In fact, the United States Senate revived a Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Caucus in 2012. “Fracking could drive the establishment of an infrastructure for using hydrogen at the home,” Mr. Nocera said. “And then the next thing everybody might say is, yeah, but that hydrogen is making CO2. Then the artificial leaf would show up. So it’s kind of weird. Fracking is killing me right now, but in the long run it could be an asset.”

In brief, the perfect fuel exists. What doesn’t exist is everything between this new fuel and, say, your electric coffee bean grinder. “And this is my ultimate vision and I believe it will happen sometime,” Mr. Nocera said, unable to resist. “Your house will be its own gas station.”

 

Advertisements

104 Responses to “Artificial Leaf Update”


  1. Re-parenting a reply to stephengn1 (comment-page-1/#comment-55408), for readability (and risking deletion for length):

    These are not value judgements. They are facts derived via deductive reasoning.

    “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” – William James

    Question: Who controls the ability to harness and disseminate the energy created via fission?
    Answer: due to inherent security concerns, only a select few with close ties to national governments

    In essence, you’re saying that nuclear energy has been nationalized/socialized.  Isn’t this a GOOD thing in the leftist ranking of moral values?

    Past US nuclear policy was geared toward producing abundance.  This would have, as an almost-accidental side effect, eliminated the mining of steam coal and slashed US carbon emissions.  (This is exactly the effect it had in France.)  Are you saying that it’s impossible to hire people with the necessary ties?  After all, a 1 GW(e) plant produces enough electricity to supply the complete electrical and transport energy needs of about 450,000 people (1.5 kW electric, about 700 W equivalent crankshaft power used for ground vehicles).  You’d think that those 450,000 could find a few hundred qualified people to do that work for them, and hire them.

    Current US nuclear policy is geared toward preventing competition with fossil fuels.  This SHOULD be a major concern of Climate Crocks, but is not.  The political stance of Mary Sinclair appears to have much to do with this.

    Question: Who controls the ability to harness solar energy?
    Answer: Anyone with enough money to buy increasingly cheaper solar energy products

    It’s so amusing to have you try to lecture me, an owner of both solar and wind energy products, on how they give us all control over our energy.  In practice they make us slaves to failures of electronics, deterioration of batteries, vagaries of season and weather, and otherwise remind us why so many Jacobs and Wincharger units were abandoned just as soon as the REA’s lines arrived in the 1930’s and ’40’s.  There’s a Jacobs unit on a tower maybe a mile from where I sit right now.  It hasn’t produced a watt since I first laid eyes on it, roughly 3 decades ago.  I believe the tail vane system is broken, and no owner so far has found it worth fixing.

    I won’t beg the question of why I have any of this stuff.  I am a hobbyist, and I maintain that the most expensive watt is the one you need and can’t get.  Having some small source of my own juice is a form of insurance.  I once waited all day for a bucket truck to replace a transformer fuse after a suicidal squirrel went out in a flash of glory (I found the squirrel), and keeping the freezer from thawing is just a good idea.

    This objection fails to account for vast technological advancements.

    You mean, like the discovery of nuclear chain reactions in 1942, rapidly followed by the launch of the USS Nautilus in 1954?  THAT sort of technological advancement?  (It’s hard to talk about technological enhancements in wind power.  Wind has been used to grind grain and pump water for centuries.  In 1941, a 1.25 megawatt wind turbine went into grid service.  73 years later the biggest wind turbines in the world are still just a few megawatts, and the wind itself is no more dependable than it ever was.)

    The minimum EROEI (energy return on energy invested) to maintain industrial society is about 7:1.  Despite all the technological advancements thus far, we haven’t managed to raise the EROEI for PV+storage much beyond 2.  As Gail Tverberg will tell you at length subsidies and mandates for these technologies make matters worse, not better.

    A falsehood that again fails to consider technological advancements in the collection of renewable forms of energy

    Then show me where electrical power based on such renewables is cheap and abundant without resorting to use of carbon-based fuels.  (Hydro has had little technological advancement in decades; it’s hard to improve on 85% efficiency.)

    Um, people who want democracy and oppose would be oligarchs – If you can call that an agenda.

    Obviously, the oligarchs providing the behind-the-scenes financing for anti-nuclear groups like Friends of the Earth find the anti-nuclear agenda to their liking.

    Oh, and it’s not “renewables”, it’s renewables

    Not when it involves burning rain forest to plant palm-oil plantations for “renewable” biodiesel and mining of forests to ship wood pellets to Denmark for “renewable” electricity, it isn’t.

    solar power will bring back feudalism.

    Do you think you’re going to own the outside of your apartment building?

    Everything humans do is tied to land.

    When you can produce the energy needs for a million people from a few hundred acres of land, the strength of the landowners vs. everyone else is slashed.

    Another obvious falsehood since it is, in fact, being done.

    Really?  Show me where.  Average US electric consumption is about 450 GW, or about 33 kWh/capita/day.  Show me some apartment dwellers generating that much at, say, 2 occupants per bedroom.  Don’t forget to count north-side units!

    Right now, solar and wind projects and are bringing desperately needed energy to the poorest of the poor – the rural poor of the developing world

    Just as the Winchargers brought electricity to the Great Plains in the 1920’s.  But it took the Rural Electrification Administration to bring them out of agrarianism and let them run more than a few light bulbs.  If a cell phone and a LED light is enough for you, let’s see you cut back to that.

    By hobbled he means necessarily regulated.

    By “hobbled” I mean forced to document every step of the manufacture of many reactor parts even though this has no verifiable impact on safety or even reliability, and puts most potential suppliers out of the market.  By “hobbled” I mean being subject to hostile “intervenor” actions for many changes, and having to pay for their “input”.  By “hobbled” I mean having to shut down for radioisotope releases many times smaller than the every-day emissions from coal and even gas plants.

    One aspect of “hobbled” is the cry of “but it’s nuclear!” whenever people like me ask you to treat nuclear energy according to the same standards as everything else.

    It is INHERENTLY elitist and undemocratic by it’s very nature. No government is insane enough to allow ordinary citizens the ability to produce their own grid scale nuclear energy.

    The insanity inherent in your catch-phrases keeps leaping out at me.  There is NOTHING “democratic” about grid-scale electric power, period.  It operates by the laws of physics which govern alternators and motors, inductors and capacitors and transformers.  You do not get to vote on them.  You work within their constraints or you don’t operate at all.  If only an elite is smart and knowledgeable enough to keep the grid going, it’s “elitist”.  It’s also essential to technological society.  The exact same thing is true of chemistry, mechanical engineering, ad infinitum.  You open schools to educate these elites and then hire them to do those jobs that most people can’t do.  You benefit by getting something you could not get from your own efforts.

    Despite the decades-old disinformation campaign against nuclear energy in the West, a majority of Americans support it.  It’s an elite which agitates and uses anti-democratic tactics like lawsuits (which the public doesn’t get to vote on) and “intervenor” actions to shut it down.  This elite doesn’t work for a living, but gets support from tenured salaries or foundation grants to pursue their agenda.

    If your thesis is that there is an active nuclear engine at the center of the earth, or enough radioactive decay to power “the bulk of the driving force of plate tectonics” I eagerly await a citation of actual science. Personally I find such an idea laughable.

    10.1 Introduction

    Radioactive heating of the mantle and crust plays a key role in geodynamics as discussed in Section 4.5.  The heat generated by the decay of the uranium isotopes 238-U and 235-U, the thorium isotope 232-Th, and the potassium isotope 40-K is the primary source of the energy that drives mantle convection and generates earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

    This was settled science by the time I took junior-high earth science, which is where I recall learning it.  My textbook was written before the acceptance of plate tectonics, BTW.  How the hell can you be so completely IGNORANT of something so basic that it was taught to barely-teenagers four decades ago?

    It’s no wonder that progress against the denialists of climate science is so painfully difficult.  They view the opposition as anti-science and pig-ignorant, and to a horrifying extent, they’re right!

    With friends like you, the climate doesn’t need enemies.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Thank you for “reparenting”, E-Pot, but I will just tack my reply on here, since all you did was quote the above conclusion in answer to me.

      I said that I too was eagerly awaiting the “citation of actual science” behind E-Pot’s “nuclear engine” as the source of Earth’s heat, and added that “I DO suspect that E-Pot will simply just NOT respond, as he has so many times in the past when caught out”. E-Pot did not disappoint, because this reply is a “non-answer”—-it’s merely ignorance cloaked in bombast and condescension rather than “actual science”.

      Just as E-Pot ran his mouth on another thread about bacterial genetics based on what he learned in “intro biology” in college, he is doing the same here—-speaking to us of things where his knowledge is minimal. But he is taking us back to JUNIOR HIGH Earth Science this time (LOL), and quoting from a book that looks to be meant for courses WAY beyond the more basic and medium level earth science and geology courses that I took in college. He has quoted ONE introductory paragraph from a chapter because it SEEMS to support his contention that the Earth has a “nuclear engine”, and it’s from a chapter on CHEMICAL geodynamics, which IS THE WRONG CHAPTER in which to begin to look—even the quote says “see section 4.5”. Such is the fate of the “looker upper” who googles and looks for “proof” of things he doesn’t understand.

      I will make E-Pot a deal—If he will educate me about desmids and bacterial genetics, I will explain in detail “why heat generated by (radioactive) decay is the primary source of the energy that drives MANTLE convection and generates earthquakes and volcanic eruptions” does not quite mean what E-Pot thinks it does.

      I would ask E-Pot how he can be so mindless that he says things like “How the hell can you be so completely IGNORANT of something so basic that it was taught to barely-teenagers four decades ago?” when he really doesn’t quite understand those “basics” himself?

      “….painfully difficult….anti-science and pig-ignorant….to a horrifying extent….”

      Lord love a duck! With hyperbole like that, the discussion will make little progress.


      • I will make E-Pot a deal—If he will educate me about desmids and bacterial genetics, I will explain in detail “why heat generated by (radioactive) decay is the primary source of the energy that drives MANTLE convection and generates earthquakes and volcanic eruptions” does not quite mean what E-Pot thinks it does.

        Nice little trick.  Assert that the text does not mean what it plainly says, and excuse yourself from ever having to spell it out by erecting an invisible bar that only you can tell has been cleared—which of course, you never will.

        The only thing you’re not clever enough to do is to construct a sufficiently convoluted gotcha that it can’t be deconstructed in a single sentence.  But hey, you’ve got a screen name to live up to, so I guess it works out.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Oh look, stephen—-E-Pot is back with a vicious ad hominem attack on us. We have dared to to pour salt into the wounds we have made in his narcissism, and he is thrashing in pain and madly lashing out at us. Poor baby!

          No “tricks” on my part, E-Pot. Perhaps your Junior High Earth Science education is not adequate to the task, but the original text citation you gave was inadequate, and did NOT quite mean what you think “it PLAINLY says”. Nor does the new information you provided in reply to stephen, which was NOT in your original citation (it likely was somewhere in that book, but you were citing the wrong chapter).

          You apparently took the hint I gave you by capitalizing MANTLE and did some more “looking up”, because you have now added the “roughly 80% of the heat driving mantle convection is from radioactive decay”. A citation for that figure please? (beyond what you remember from junior high).

          I am arguing fairly small points with you mainly because of your arrogance, condescension, and general unlikeability rather than because you are dead wrong. You keep citing plate tectonics and earthquakes and volcanoes and your beloved “nuclear power”, and have the balls to say to stephen that he is:

          “…..so emotionally-driven that you’ll oppose any fact, no matter how undebatable, if it comes from a source you don’t like or calls a cherished notion into question….”

          Pots and kettles, E-Pot—-that is a wonderful self description, actually.

          I will waste no more time on this, but what I was trying to get you to think about are such things as:

          1) Most of the heat that comes from within the earth is stored up heat from the time of its formation from the primordial cloud that is still making its way to the surface.
          2) Most of the earth’s original nuclear “fuel load” has decayed, the heat from that decay has been added to 1), and is hard to distinguish between the two sources (although we can calculate some guesstimates).
          3) The earth has stratified into two cores and a mantle covered by a crust, and we haven’t gotten down very far into it (ever hear of the “Mohole” and the Mohorovicic Discontinuity?). We don’t really know what is going on way down deep, or what the composition is, because all we have is surface rock and some occasional lava eruptions from the upper reaches of the mantle to look at. (and much heat was also generated from the gravitational accretion that caused the stratification—stephen mentioned that)

          I have not erected “an invisible bar that only I can tell has been cleared”. All I ask is that YOU regale us with your knowledge of bacterial genetics and desmids—I’m sure many besides me here on Crock have some knowledge beyond “intro biology” and would love to hear what you know that caused you to speak so arrogantly about the topic on that long lost thread. (I will stop bringing it up if you simply admit that you were FOS and overreaching badly).

          As for “The only thing you’re not clever enough to do is to construct a sufficiently convoluted gotcha that it can’t be deconstructed in a single sentence. But hey, you’ve got a screen name to live up to, so I guess it works out”, no comment is necessary beyond “you are proving to all that you’re a sore loser”.

          As you said in your closing to stephen, “Nobody is entitled to their own facts”. How original, and we all pretty much understand that here on Crock. Except for those like you who are “…..so emotionally-driven that you oppose any fact that calls a cherished notion into question….”

    • stephengn1 Says:

      If all of your responses to what I have said are going to consist of responding to something I did NOT say, then talking to you is clearly a waste of time.


      • You’re the one who wrote this:

        If your thesis is that there is an active nuclear engine at the center of the earth, or enough radioactive decay to power “the bulk of the driving force of plate tectonics” I eagerly await a citation of actual science. Personally I find such an idea laughable.

        Roughly 80% of the heat driving the mantle convection currents which produce plate tectonics is from radioactive decay.  You literally got a textbook citation on that specific point.  I haven’t quite figured out if you’re

        (a) too dense to understand it, or
        (b) so emotionally-driven that you’ll oppose any fact, no matter how undebatable, if it comes from a source you don’t like or calls a cherished notion into question,

        but if you can’t even agree about facts there is no point trying to educate you.  Nobody is entitled to their own facts.  Not you, not climate-change denialists, not “flood geologists”, NOBODY.

        • stephengn1 Says:

          Sir, a quote from an introductory passage in textbook IS NOT SCIENCE. People can and do say a lot of faulty things in textbooks. The many errors in creationist textbooks come to mind. What I was looking for was the science that such a quote could be based upon. There was no apparent footnote to that comment in the textbook. I’d be more than happy to accept the 80% figure if it is based on observation and well sourced estimation. Do you have a link to such science? Otherwise you are arguing from (an as yet UNNAMED) authority.


          • Oh, you want something more scholarly?  Try this:

            Assuming that the present heat flux is entirely primordial (i.e., nonradiogenic) in a convective model leads back to unrealistically high temperatures about 1.7 b.y. ago. Inclusion of exponentially decaying (i.e., radiogenic) heat sources moves the high temperatures further into the past and leads to a transition from ‘hot’ to ‘cool’ calculated thermal histories for the case when the present rate of heat production is near 50% of the present rate of heat loss. Requiring the calculated histories to satisfy minimal geological constraints limits the present heat production/heat loss ratio to between about 0.3 and 0.85. Plausible stronger constraints narrow this range to between 0.45 and 0.65. These results are compatible with estimated radiogenic heat production rates in some meteorites and terrestrial rocks, with a whole-earth K/U ratio of 1–2×104 giving optimal agreement.

            I note that the ratio calculated is for current heat production vs. loss, not the ratio of gravitational vs. radiogenic heat in the Earth at present.  Past radiogenic heat would have been considerably greater than at present, and would be more recent than the energy of collapse.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            E-Pot says “Oh, you want something more scholarly? Try this:”, and proceeds to quote verbatim only the SECOND half of an ABSTRACT (perhaps because the first half is not as supportive of his “nuclear fixation”? Yes, that’s “scholarly” indeed, and his understanding of it is about at the same junior high school level of his understanding of geodynamics in general.

            Does not E-Pot recognize that ranges of 0.30 to 0.85 (and even 0.45 to 0.65) are pretty “broad”? (A range of 0.30 to 0.85 is actually closer to a range of zero to totality—a coin flip—than to the .50 “optimal”). Does he not see the inclusion of the terms “assuming”, “plausible”, “estimated” and “optimal agreement”? The abstract indicates that these guys have done some thinking, proved little that was new, and had fun along the way. E-Pot has shown his skill at “looking up” once again, but he can’t seem to find the stuff that might better prove his argument—-it’s out there.

            “I note that the ratio calculated is for current heat production vs. loss, not the ratio of gravitational vs. radiogenic heat in the Earth at present. Past radiogenic heat would have been considerably greater than at present, and would be more recent than the energy of collapse”.

            E-Pot is trying here, but his “thinking” just leads us to confusion. We are going to ignore “gravitational heat”? I’m glad he DOES recognize that past radiogenic heat would have been greater than at present, but he begs the question of how much it would have been compared to the “heat of collapse”, and I still wait for him to tell us how we can sort out radiogenic heat from gravitational heat from heat of collapse. I also wait for him to give us the figures on the exact “radiogenic” composition of the earth (beyond the thin apple skin that we are able to access).l

            More importantly, I wish he would explain to us why he keeps this argument going? Is he more confident of his junior high earth science knowledge than he was with his bacterial genetics from “intro biology”? Or maybe that he’s now a grown up “looker upper”, he thinks that means he will understand what he looks up and can use it for “scientific evidence”?

          • stephengn1 Says:

            That still doesn’t get me to 80%, so you are still arguing from authority and really nothing else. I accept that long ago decayed actinides contributed to the total heat content currently found in the deep earth, but as for precise percentages, science is still pretty much in the dark.

            I don’t understand your almost out if hand dismissal of solar. Solar IS nuclear. It is the collection of energy from the single most powerful and reliable natural nuclear fusion reactor in our solar system. Waste, safety and environmental concerns are all minimal – this is less true with fission

          • dumboldguy Says:

            “…..but as for precise percentages, science is still pretty much in the dark”.

            And that’s the point, isn’t it? The point that E-Pot ignores in his need for certainty to support his nuclear fixation. I have seen studies (and bald assertions) with figures as high as 90% and as low as 50%, but one thing they all emphasize is that we have no real way of knowing.

            One thing that is for sure is the vast amount of (nuclear) energy that the sun provides every day. Inefficient, expensive, perhaps ugly and noisy to some—-but it is CARBON-FREE once it’s up and running, and ISN’T THAT THE POINT?. (BTW, what are the latest figures on geothermal—-with all that nuclear energy down there, we should be tapping into it, shouldn’t we?)


  2. Getting back to stephengn1 (comment-page-2/#comment-55618):

    That still doesn’t get me to 80%, so you are still arguing from authority and really nothing else. I accept that long ago decayed actinides contributed to the total heat content currently found in the deep earth, but as for precise percentages, science is still pretty much in the dark.

    Wikipedia claims 80%, and cites Turcotte and Schubert.  I dug as deep into that as I could (not having university credentials to get behind paywalls).

    I do, however, find it ironic that you say I’m “still arguing from authority” when that is all a scientific source is, and that’s specifically what you asked for.  Neither you nor I are going to go crunching the data ourselves, even if we could get our grubby little CPUs on it.  This minor point isn’t worth that much time, so if we can find some paper or other it’s either going to (a) settle the matter for this discussion, or (b) serve as proof that you’ll not accept anything that can be provided with a reasonable level of effort.  Among other things, (b) is the behavior of the climate-change denialist, for whom no amount of evidence is sufficient to merit even provisional acceptance.

    I don’t understand your almost out if hand dismissal of solar. Solar IS nuclear.

    I own some solar gear, I’m hardly against it.  What I’m “anti” is false claims of solutions (aka fraud).  There’s nothing directly harmful about homeopathic medicines or cow magnets on your car’s fuel line, but when people expect real cures or fuel economy gains, they get hurt.

    Take the much-hyped Ivanpah solar plant as an example.  It covers 6 square miles and cost $2.2 billion, but achieves only 392 MW output at 31.4% duty cycle… and still has to burn natural gas to achieve that much!  $18,000 per average kilowatt is so far beyond affordability that we couldn’t manage to switch to it even if it was fossil-free.  Such non-solutions implicitly mean we’ll be burning coal and gas as long as we have them, at which time it all falls down (if climate disruption doesn’t do it first).

    I’m also resolutely opposed to externalizing costs.  Fossil plants should be made to pay for their GHG emissions as well as their toxic ash, but PV panels have their own issues with mineral extraction and refining, GHGs released in processing (like NF3 used to clean the chambers where silicon wafers are processed), and the externalities of grid-tied systems laid upon the rest of the grid.  There’s a little kerfuffle in Arizona over that issue, because it’s not going to get any smaller with time.  The grid isn’t a battery and at a certain point treating it like one causes problems.

    There are ways to fix those problems.  “Ala carte” billing for grid services vs. actual energy is essential if homeowners expect to sell into the spot market.  Short-term electricity storage, good for just a few hours, would both smooth out the bumpy delivery of PV and implicitly create a heap of carbon-free spinning reserve.  The only way around the problem of diminishing returns due to variability is to fix the variability, but all I see is resistance.  People with net metering are loath to give an inch.  Ironically, in that respect they bear all too much resemblance to rednecks who drive 4×4 pickups getting 15 MPG.

    I’m for nuclear power and electric vehicles because they seem to be some of the least-problematic measures which can actually solve our GHG problems.  The quasi-religious opposition to nuclear power is a difficult social problem, but physics can’t be prayed or protested away at all.


  3. And in a separate comment (also IRT comment-page-2/#comment-55618), because I used my 2-link limit in the last one, I want to cite this Wiki entry by a nuclear physicist which is both highly informative and very, very quotable (emphasis added):

    the consequence of Fukushima will be damage to the public health and to the future. The damage will not be generated by radiation from Fukushima. The damage will be self inflicted. All the reactors in Japan and Germany are being shut down. There is naught to replace this source of energy but energy from fossil fuels. The megatons of pollutants and GHGs dumped into the atmosphere will kill people and speed up our onward rush to a global climate change catastrophe. What a disaster! What about levels of mercury found in fish due to the burning of fossil fuels for energy. Is not this more of a concern than finding excess radioactivity in Bluefin tuna? Because mercury levels have to be determined by chemical tests, means that the mercury concentration is millions of times larger than any radioactive cesium concentration. Compare the Fukushima incident to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Compare the Fukushima incident to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Is there any real comparison? The only animals that died in the Fukushima incident were those that starved to death because their owners fled the scene. Did Exxon and BP incidents shut down the oil industry? No they did not. Did they lead to a rush of activity to replace our dependence on oil? No they did not. Why is this so? Here we are rushing ahead to a global climate catastrophe, and we are shutting down one means that could avert it. Are we crazy? Is it necessary to answer that question?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      The Wiki entry was a good read. Thank you. You already know that I am not anti-nuclear power. I am anti-ignorance, though, and would hope that you don’t tap dance away from radiogenic heating of the earth quite as fast as you seem to be doing in your reply to stephen with your citation of a single sentence in a Wiki article that baldly states “80%” and cites Turcotte and Schubert.

      You need to look at geoneutrinos and KamLAND to see 50%, and really READ a number of other sources to see that the issue is of where the earth’s internal heat comes from is unsettled (and you haven’t known what you were talking about from the get-go).


      • You need to look at geoneutrinos and KamLAND to see 50%, and really READ a number of other sources to see that the issue is of where the earth’s internal heat comes from is unsettled (and you haven’t known what you were talking about from the get-go).

        It was only recently that it was proven that neutrinos oscillate, explaining the long-known solar neutrino deficit.  I see KamLAND is a successor experiment to Super-Kamiokande (the last one I paid attention to), and was part of further study on the issue.  It’s got a threshold energy of 1.8 MeV, meaning it can’t detect anything from K-40 decays.  Since the exact properties of the neutrinos being detected and the factors which affect oscillation are one of the things being researched, I’d lean more heavily on the work of the geochemists and meteoriticists at this point.

        Something that isn’t arguable is the decay curve of uranium.  4.6 billion years ago, there was roughly twice as much U-238 and about 90 times as much U-235.  The decay of that much heavy metal produced a lot of heat.  And who knows, maybe in those early days when natural uranium was 30% fissile, natural reactors like Oklo were ubiquitous.

        Can we at least agree that, without heat to drive plate tectonics, Earth’s atmosphere would resemble Mars?

        • dumboldguy Says:

          You ARE persistent, aren’t you? And here you are, again doing a “mini-Gish Gallop” through either your learnings from junior high Earth Science and/or some hurried “looking up”.

          You “see KamLAND is a successor experiment to Super-Kamiokande (the last one you paid attention to), and it was part of further study on the issue”. And in your infinite wisdom and knowledge, you’d “lean more heavily on the work of the geochemists and meteoriticists at this point”. AT THIS POINT? LOL

          Your rhetoric rates both a la-de-da and BS (and a sniff of the sleeve hankie). Although I DO commend you for “leaning heavily” on ANYONE who has more knowledge than you, since you seem unable to understand what you look up. In your efforts to continue to waffle on the “nuclear engine” you have missed the relevant info about the neutrinos studied in KamLAND.

          “Something that isn’t arguable is the decay curve of uranium. 4.6 billion years ago, there was roughly twice as much U-238 and about 90 times as much U-235”?.

          Twice and 90 times as much? Says who? What do we know about the composition of the earth beyond our minimal exploration of the crust? Extrapolating decay curves of surface rocks does NOT give you a provable answer.

          “The decay of that much heavy metal produced a lot of heat. And who knows, maybe in those early days when natural uranium was 30% fissile, natural reactors like Oklo were ubiquitous.”

          It sure did produce a lot of heat, but there are estimates ranging from 50% to 90% as to how much of the earth’s heat load they produced. And Oklo type reactors were “ubiquitous”? Dream on—I don’t think any have been discovered beyond the cluster at Oklo, and they occurred there only because of a rather unique set of physical and chemical circumstances.

          “Can we at least agree that, without heat to drive plate tectonics, Earth’s atmosphere would resemble Mars?”

          We could, if plate tectonics was the only factor that influenced the development of earth’s atmosphere. Is this a tidbit you came across in your hurried “looking up” of “evidence” to refute stephengn and I? You saw a sentence that said “Earth would have an atmosphere like Mars IF…..” and now you want to hang your hat on it and go off topic?. It’s not that simple, and that’s something you should remember from junior high earth science.

    • stephengn1 Says:

      “The only animals that died in the Fukushima incident were those that starved to death because their owners fled the scene.”

      It’s bald faced lies like this, lies in the service of an already proven corrupt industry that are the most infuriating. No animals died? Nothing in the kingdom Animalia died? Not a bird? Not a fish? Not a mouse? In those first days, when the cloud of radioactive iodine circled the globe, there was absolutely zero ecological impact?

      Nuclear physicists are not biologists or ecologists or vice versa. And they never seem to get along. Lies like this underline why.


      • No animals died? Nothing in the kingdom Animalia died? Not a bird? Not a fish? Not a mouse?

        The essay, which is fully footnoted, repeats this:

        Nature published a summary of the radiation assessments done by WHO and UNSCEAR on the doses received by the Japanese populace and radiation workers.[58] The highest doses of just over 600 mSv was received by 2 radiation workers. While people start to show signs of radiation poisoning at 400 mSv, neither worker here has shown any ill effects.

        If 600 mSv is the maximum dose received by workers actually at the site, wildlife in the hinterlands was quite safe (if not always safe to eat).  Wildlife around Chernobyl is doing fine despite 50-times-background level of radioisotopes.  The catfish in the Chernobyl reactor cooling ponds grow to enormous size because they aren’t being fished.

        I’ll walk back “no animals died”.  I’m sure that almost everything in the upper reaches of the reactor buildings was killed either by shock, heat or asphyxiation due to the hydrogen explosions.  Falling debris is dangerous, whatever the source.  Any vermin living in the plant basements which got the radioactive water probably accumulated enough exposure to kill them.  But we know that pets and livestock in the region didn’t get any sort of dose that would cause immediate sickness.

        In those first days, when the cloud of radioactive iodine circled the globe, there was absolutely zero ecological impact?

        That appears to be the case, yes.  And, far from “circling the globe”, the overwhelming majority of the emissions (aside from noble gases) fell out long before reaching the Americas (the plume which blew to the northwest after the winds shifted petered out after a few tens of kilometers, which you can see on the various maps).  We can detect these things because we can detect amazingly small amounts of radioisotopes.  It’s hard to detect the Cs-137 against the background from pre-ATB testing, but the Cs-134 from Fukushima is almost all there is so it stands out.

        It’s bald faced lies like this, lies in the service of an already proven corrupt industry that are the most infuriating.

        If you insist that the truth is a lie, you’re going to need to increase your blood pressure medication.

        By all means, read the essay down to “Summary and Conclusions”.  There’s a bullet list there that you don’t want to miss.

        • stephengn1 Says:

          “That appears to be the case, yes.”
          – Then you are ignorant of ecology.

          “And, far from “circling the globe” …”
          – You parse your words with the best of them. Clarify. Are you saying that that all the radioactive iodine fell out before reach the Americas? How far was the USS Reagan from the incident? Was it a few tens of kilometers? What else will you “walk back” (a term used by political snakes when a lie is uncovered)?

          If YOU insist the truth is a lie (as you just did, before you walked it back), for the sake of my children and theirs, I will fight you and your kind for the rest of my days


          • Then you are ignorant of ecology.

            Perhaps.  But aside from the gross methodological errors in “proofs” of ecological damage in the region of the Fukushima fallout, there’s the “apud hoc, ergo propter hoc” fallacy at work.  An oil refinery also hit by the tsunami burned for days.  The effects of radiation on insects have been studied for decades (which is probably the source of the old saw “after a nuclear war the only survivors will be cockroaches”).  They don’t produce mutations like those studied by Otaki.  Chemical mutagens are another matter.

            Speaking of which, Mangano has just gotten another public spanking for his poor methodology.

            Clarify. Are you saying that that all the radioactive iodine fell out before reach the Americas?

            Almost all of it, yes.  It’s impossible to say “all”, when every breath you take has a statistical certainty of containing molecules previously inhaled by Julius Caesar and Adolph Hitler (hey, you’re literally CONSPIRING [breathing together] with HITLER!).  What crossed the Pacific was far below any level of concern.

            How far was the USS Reagan from the incident? Was it a few tens of kilometers?

            Do you know that the dose estimates for the Ronald Reagan, as well as all other ships in the region, are available on-line?  Here’s the (obfuscated, because I’ve already used up my 2 links) URL for the Reagan’s fact sheet:
            registry csd disa mil/registryWeb/docs/registry/optom/OPTOM_USS_RONALD_REAGAN.pdf

            Very prominently, this sheet states “Your whole-body and thyroid radiation dose estimates are well below levels associated with adverse medical conditions.”

            If YOU insist the truth is a lie (as you just did, before you walked it back), for the sake of my children and theirs, I will fight you and your kind for the rest of my days

            If you count every niggling technicality as a “lie”, you’re a liar by your own standard since you’re a long way from living up to it.  But since you’re conspiring with Hitler, we should just assume that, right?  I’d write more, but I’ve got to go conspire with Lucy the australopithecine and Sue the T-rex.

        • stephengn1 Says:

          Fanatic advocates and their love of hanging on to “niggling technicalities”

          So animals DID die due to Fukushima after you said they didn’t?
          – Yes, but that’s a niggling technicality

          So the radioactive iodine DID circle the globe after you said it was far from doing so?
          – Yes, but that’s a niggling technicality

          So the plume did NOT peter out a few tens of kilometers from the incident as you said it did?
          – No, but that’s a niggling technicality

          How about this doozy of a niggling technicality “Wildlife around Chernobyl is doing fine despite 50-times-background level of radioisotopes.”

          All of it? How about barn swallows and other wildlife studied by Dr Timothy Mousseau? Niggling technicalities all, right? Anything but calling them what they really are – UNTRUTHS.


          • Fanatic advocates and their love of hanging on to “niggling technicalities”

            Yes, technicalities.  Like this:

            “Where were you?”  “Out walking the foot path in the woods.”

            “Did you kill any animals?”  “Of course not, I was just out walking.”

            “Well, did you step off the dirt?”  “What does that have to do with anything?”  “Just answer me, yes or no.”  “I went to look at some mushrooms.”  “So you stepped on leaves and stuff?”  “Of course I did.”  “So were there any bugs in those leaves?”  “Probably.”  “So you squashed them.”  “Yeah, so?”  “So are bugs plants?”  “No, of course not.  What’s gotten into you?”  “That means YOU KILLED ANIMALS!  YOU LIED!”

            The interrogator in this hypothetical exchange is technically correct, based on the biological rather than colloquial meaning of “animal”.  S/he is also either a hyper-aggressive control freak or totally batshit crazy (maybe both).  And if the interrogator seems to be modeled on you, that’s no accident.

            So animals DID die due to Fukushima after you said they didn’t?

            Conspiracy theories about dead birds in Alaska to the contrary, there’s zero evidence that either livestock or vertebrate wildlife outside the plant proper got enough exposure to cause any kind of radiation-related illness.  THAT is full of “technicalities”, but is both accurate and contradicting it demands that one prove a negative.

            So the radioactive iodine DID circle the globe after you said it was far from doing so?
            – Yes, but that’s a niggling technicality

            If you farted and 99.9% of it got swept up by the activated carbon filter on the exhaust fan, but 0.1% was blown out into the environment, it would be silly to say it “circled the globe”.  That is what you are doing.  You’re compounding this by asking people downwind if they smelled anything, and asserting that their negative answers are proof that your shit don’t stink.

            All of it? How about barn swallows and other wildlife studied by Dr Timothy Mousseau?

            The presentation of Mousseau is ably fisked by Patrick Walden.  Adams mentions that Mousseau claimed results of great sigificance from sample sizes on the order of 5 birds.  If you only have to find abnormal birds out of a sample of 5, you could catch a lot of birds and just not count the normal ones.  I’m not accusing Mousseau of scientific misconduct, but when you look at the prestige and support one can get by promoting the PSR agenda (which is essentially the coal/gas agenda), there have to be some strong temptations for the corruptible to audition for such roles.  Diederik Stapel in particular made out of whole cloth studies which said what his audience wanted to hear, so no stretch of the imagination is required to believe that an anti-nuclear Stapel would readily receive good press and financial support.  At the very least it’s a strong incentive to cut corners on research, and Walden has made a very strong case that Mousseau has done that.

        • stephengn1 Says:

          Mousseau, a biologist, was “ably fisked” by Walden, a retired physicist, in the same way that Mann, a climatologist, was ably fisked by Watts, a retire weatherman. Congrats, you now are using the same tactics he does.

          Bottom line, these are your opinions and these opinions are and will continue to be highly contested. Fortunately, your opinions, no matter how strongly felt, do not constitute policy. I will quite happily continue to strongly oppose your opinions and also continue to strongly support those that oppose turning them into policy. I’m certainly not alone in this. You are free to think of me as evil or ignorant or whatever else you wish for doing this. My side is beginning to win now and it is clear to me that new energy technologies will soon leave nuclear behind.

          I wish you luck. Well, not really. I wish you failure. In all likelihood, I’m gonna get my wish!


          • Ah, right.  Mousseau’s elementary geometric error is void, because he’s a biologist.  Ditto anything that might void his statistical claims, such as sample sizes far too small to yield anything like a result outside the error bar.

            It’s funny that some people decry credentialism when the credentialed say something they don’t like, and then turn right around and do this.  It’s between sad and sick that they’ll point to the likes of James Hansen when telling the world that we need to take action, and then quietly turn their backs on him when the action he prescribes is contrary to their dogma.

            I will quite happily continue to strongly oppose your opinions and also continue to strongly support those that oppose turning them into policy. I’m certainly not alone in this. You are free to think of me as evil or ignorant or whatever else you wish for doing this.

            Anyone who refuses to look at the results of “Green” policies, like the apparent wash in Aruba and the increase in CO2 emissions in Germany, is complicit in the destruction of our current biosphere.  Presumably you are here because you think this is a major, if not the biggest, problem facing humanity in the next century.  If you refuse to look at it with clear eyes, you are an even bigger problem than Exxon-Mobil and the Koch brothers:  you aren’t the uniformed enemy, you’re a spy and saboteur.

          • stephengn1 Says:

            I AM here because climate change is a major threat. Renewables with storage are the best and most affordable way to address that threat – most especially in emerging markets. Renewables are cheap and growing more so, even as they also grow more efficient. Energy storage is also growing cheaper and more efficient simultaneously. Both while nuclear is growing ever more expensive. In the end, the relentless tide of the marketplace will simply wash the Rube Goldberg sand castles of nuclear away.

            It is quite predictable, even expected, that you would call me “a spy and a saboteur”, charges that would mean serious prison time. The short, thuggish history of nuclear is replete with examples of suppression of dissent. False imprisonment, the use of organized crime, even murder have all been used by your disgraceful industry.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I have enjoyed watching you and E-Pot beat each other up and have felt little need to add my two cents, but you are WAY over the top with the hyperbole in this comment.

            “….. the relentless tide of the marketplace will simply wash the Rube Goldberg sand castles of nuclear away”?

            “…..The short, thuggish history of nuclear is replete with examples of suppression of dissent”?

            “…..False imprisonment, the use of organized crime, even MURDER have all been used by your disgraceful industry”?

            WOW!—-and double WOW to that last one. Could you give us some links to these assertions? Sounds like it could be some “fun” reading, and worth putting the Baldacci, Silva, and Stephen Hunter et al away for a while.

            And I have read similar accusations leveled at The Church. Is it possible that nuclear power can be linked back to the Crusades, the Inquisition, corrupt Popes, and the Mafia? Perhaps Silva or Dan Brown would be interested in your ideas—-would make a great piece of fiction—-maybe there’s a biblical reference to Oklo?

            PS I think I’ve asked you before how you felt about vaccines, GMO, and the other things about which liberals demonstrate cognitive dissonance. You ARE aware, I hope, that “97% of all scientists do not reject nuclear power”, and your knee-jerk antipathy towards it is not rational but based on emotions?

          • stephengn1 Says:

            Read about Karen Silkwood (murder). Read about the false imprisonment of Yury Bandazhevsky. Read about Vassili Nesterenko and the heavy use of the Yakuza (organized crime) in Japan. Read about nuclear controversies and how the IAEA holds sway over the the reports of the WHO. Watch as Indian club wielding riot cops drive nuclear protesters (mostly simple farmers) into the sea (one of MANY examples) for daring to oppose the nuclear agenda and tell me that you don’t see thuggery.

            Open your eyes coldly and rationally to the need and want of raw power nuclear or any centralized, top down distribution of energy to the masses is really all about. These are not conspiracy theories, nor have I ever subscribed to wacky ideas.

            I’m not even inherently against nuclear power. I only know that the first one you quoted –

            “….. the relentless tide of the marketplace will simply wash the Rube Goldberg sand castles of nuclear away”

            – is the truth, not hyperbole. Nuclear simply can’t compete in any real market place. It really never has. And once storage comes in (a far shorter time line then you might imagine), the game is over.

            In short, what you see as knee jerk is nothing of the kind, it is a rational conclusion based on the evidence before me . In order to power the planet, the world would have to embark on building more than 10,000 nuclear power plants this instant. This is simply not going to happen. Meanwhile solar and storage are snowballing into a juggernaut. There is not a single doubt in my mind that it will power our world.

            You say that I am over the top. Do you also believe that I am “a saboteur and a spy”?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I have read more than one book about Silkwood’s unproven murder and have seen the movie. I have read also about R & N and what has gone on in Russia, as well as the involvement of the Yakuza with nuclear power in Japan. The controversies surrounding the IAEA and the supposed bias of the WHO regarding nuclear power are old news. Actually, I have been reading about “nuclear controversies” for 50 years.

            ALL OF THAT is just business as usual in the modern world of capitalism, corporations, and the greedy self-serving rich. You have unfortunately been visiting too many leftish anti-nuclear sites and feeding your cognitive dissonance regarding nuclear power. Silkwood was killed 30+ freaking years ago and was not the first nor will she be the last to die because of corporate lawlessness. That’s ONE murder that can be linked to nuclear energy—can you cite more?—-we have an awful lot of “murders” in a lot of industries, far more than have ever occurred in the nuclear power industry (ever hear of black lung and coal mine disasters?). And Russia? Ever hear of the Gulag? Russia is run by the “thugs” of the corporate oligarchy and even jails 20 year old female rock singer/protesters, for god’s sake. And the Yakuza? The Japanese tolerate them just like we tolerate the various Mafias—-they are useful to the plutocrats and the corporatocracy. Cops with clubs? Do you watch the evening news? Cops are clubbing people all over the world (and even shooting many). Nucleart power thuggery? BS!

            It’s a crappy world in many ways, but you need to open your eyes and understand that you have an unhealthy fixation and irrational viewpoint regarding nuclear power. I will repeat —“You ARE aware, I hope, that ‘97% of all scientists do not reject nuclear power’, and your knee-jerk antipathy towards it is not rational but based on emotions?”

            This comment is laughable—“Open your eyes coldly and rationally to the need and want of raw power nuclear or any centralized, top down distribution of energy to the masses is really all about. These are not conspiracy theories, nor have I ever subscribed to wacky ideas”. If YOU could be “cold and rational”, you would understand that you HAVE succumbed to conspiracy theories and some “wacky” thinking.

            “….. the relentless tide of the marketplace will simply wash the Rube Goldberg sand castles of nuclear away” Please! “Relentless tides” and “Rube Goldberg sand castles” are nothing but hyperbole.

            It may be true that nuclear simply can’t compete in any real market place today, but you are a motivated reasoner if you can’t see that it has a place IN SPITE of that—–that CO2 is our immediate enemy, and nuclear power could and perhaps should be in the energy mix. And why haven’t you reacted to the fact that almost no scientists dispute that? Yes, it’s expensive, and failures can be locally catastrophic, but fossil fuels have killed and are killing more people every year than nuclear power has in total.

            It is a NOT a “rational conclusion based on the evidence” to leap to the huge straw man of “embark on building more than 10,000 nuclear power plants this instant”. Of course it’s not going to happen, and no one says it should. We need to go to renewables, but we’re not moving fast enough to replace the need for some large centralized generation any time soon—-or would you rather that all those plants burn fossil fuels?

            “There is not a single doubt in my mind that it will power our world”. Can’t argue with that, except to say IF our “world” survives. What you say will be 100% true if the few remaining humans on the planet have to go back to cooking over campfires and walking everywhere.

            You ask “Do you also believe that I am “a saboteur and a spy?” Of course not, that too is hyperbole, and far beyond what you deserve for merely being a bit self-deluded and naive.


          • BTW, DOG, “Atomic Accidents” starts out as a fun little read (staged locomotive collisions!).  I also recommend “The Age of Radiance”, which I had to put down just as they were getting to the first thermonuclear tests.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I will look for the Age of Radiance. Yes, the staged train wreck opening in Accidents was neat, and I enjoyed his writing style throughout, especially the use of footnotes and “asides”.


  4. Back at stephengn1 (https://climatecrocks.com/2014/04/02/artificial-leaf-update/comment-page-2/#comment-57163):

    I AM here because climate change is a major threat.

    So you claim to believe.  But then you say this:

    Renewables with storage are the best and most affordable way to address that threat – most especially in emerging markets.

    Dogmatic denial of established fact.  France’s grid emits 77 gCO2/kWh; Denmark, 336 gCO2/kWh as I write this.  Ontario emitted 82.1 gCO2/kWh in 2013, and Sweden a paltry 23 gCO2/kWh.  Which ones are actually addressing the threat?

    To get its results, Denmark does things like importing wood pellets (on petroleum-driven ships).  Germany is clear-cutting centuries-old forests for biomass to feed electric generators.  Those carbon reservoirs will take decades to centuries to regenerate.

    Renewables are cheap and growing more so, even as they also grow more efficient. Energy storage is also growing cheaper and more efficient simultaneously.

    If renewables were cheap, they would not require subsidies or mandates.  Storage is getting cheaper v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.  Batteries are a very old, mature technology and major leaps in desired traits (capacity, cycle life, calendar life) are few and far between.

    Both while nuclear is growing ever more expensive.

    In no small part, because of the decades-long effort of people like you to kill it by adding new restrictions and “safety” requirements not imposed on the very same “threats” coming from anything else.  The high prices of current construction in the USA and Europe are due to regulatory burden and the cost of rebuilding decades of lost experience.  Meanwhile China builds at twice the speed and half the cost, expecting to have 88 GW operating by 2020 (roughly 70 GW more than today), and none other than James Hansen implies that our model needs to be nuclear Sweden, ignoring wind-obsessed Denmark.

    It is quite predictable, even expected, that you would call me “a spy and a saboteur”, charges that would mean serious prison time.

    What else do you call someone inside an “environmental” movement, whose policies and actions would destroy the environment?  The problem is that so many of the saboteurs have made it to the top (e.g. Amory Lovins) the movement is now objectively anti-environment.  For instance, the RMI’s “negawatts” campaign has done zero to actually reduce energy consumption despite decades to do so.  As a means of cutting impact on the environment it is an epic failure… yet it remains RMI policy.

    It’s not illegal to spy on an organization or movement, or direct its actions counter to its avowed goals.  This is SOP for the left.

    The short, thuggish history of nuclear

    You mean, like the RPG attack on the Superfenix reactor?  Oops, that was your side.

    replete with examples of suppression of dissent.

    You mean, like “green” mobs shouting down pro-nuclear commentators at NRC public-comment panels and turning them into theatre?  (Meredith Angwin notes that they behave themselves much better when the opposition is present in force.)

    I don’t know what to make of people like you.  Ignorant to the point of delusion, or just evil.  Ignorance is far more common, but after being informed you have no excuse.

    If you truly KNOW that the scalable renewables (wind and solar) can de-carbonize our economies to the required level, you should have at least one example, one existence proof.  For the sake of argument, let’s restrict this to electricity.  Show me a reasonably-sized grid (10 GW average or bigger) which used to rely primarily on fossil fuel but has been de-carbonized by wind and solar.  For “de-carbonized” I’ll take 10% of the emissions from coal-fired plants, call it 950*0.10 = 95 gCO2/kWh.

    Just one example.  Show me.

  5. stephengn1 Says:

    Ok, since you two feel the need to tag team me, let’s get down to nuts and bolts. The devil, as they say, is in the details. I have a plan in mind. Let’s hear yours. Let’s say all of my irrational, delusional, naive, etc, objections have been wiped away. How do we get to the nuclear solution you two are talking about. Where, what and how do we build this nuclear solution you think will get us out of this mess?

    The stage is yours…


    • Show me a reasonably-sized grid (10 GW average or bigger) which used to rely primarily on fossil fuel but has been de-carbonized by wind and solar.  For “de-carbonized” I’ll take 10% of the emissions from coal-fired plants, call it 950*0.10 = 95 gCO2/kWh.

      I asked you first.  Just one example.  Show me.

      • stephengn1 Says:

        I can’t. We’ve established that de-carbonization (especially in the extremely energy hungry US) can not happen with solar and wind. I believe that a big research push could give us nano materials that could be placed on the world’s ocean desserts to catalyze CO2 and sunlight into fuel and even turn CO2 directly back into harmless black carbon, but I recognize that’s science fiction for now. I’ve granted you your victory against my evil and ignorance. It’s your turn.

        The US currently uses nuclear to give us 20% of our energy mix from 100 or so plants that are pretty much all getting close to the multi billion dollar D word “Decommissioning” Tell me how we get to 80% – 90% and 400 – 450 plants?

        • dumboldguy Says:

          You can’t answer E-Pot? Then why are you still arguing? For fun?

          I love your “science fiction”—great comic relief in the middle of a somwhat depressing search for answers. HARMLESS black carbon? LOL

          Not all our nuclear plants have to be decommissioned immediately. Many have been refurbished and updated and thereby had their operating lives extended. It is perhaps unrealistic to talk about building hundreds more—a few dozen is a more likely immediate target in the U.S. All it takes is the will and $$$$$$$. (and a shift to designs that are safer, cleaner, and longer lived than PWR’s)

          Again, at the risk of being boring, I will say that ANYTHING that brings down the use of fossil fuels (coal in particular) is worth pursuing, and when the SHTF with the impacts of CO2, we will go on a worldwide wartime footing to deal with it—-and nuclear power will be part of that effort.

          2014 and 2015 are going to be big years—El Nino, CA drought, arctic sea ice, extreme weather in the UK, polar vortex—all bear watching. SHTF time may be upon us!

          • stephengn1 Says:

            Black carbon is harmless in the atmospheric sense, since it is no longer a gas. Does that clarification make it less funny? …sorry bout that

            A few dozen. So let’s say 48 or 64 raising it up to maybe 30% to 35% of the energy mix. Let’s further say each at the cost of Vogtle – originally estimated at $14B, now between 18 and 21 months behind schedule and $900 million over-budget. (…really we’re just getting started with the cost overruns) – but let’s give each new reactor the nice round figure of 8B. So for all 48 – 64 somewhere in the ball park of 400B to half a trillion. 30% is still a long way from total decarbonization. What will pick up that 65% to 70% of slack? Wind or solar? DELUSIONAL!, you have denounced. IMMATURE!, IGNORANT!, NAIVE!, you’ve yelled. ACHTUNG!

            By the by, how do climatic extremes like severe drought and severe floods affect nuclear, which desperately needs lots and lots of water? (No, not the air cooled reactors that have never been built.)

            How many nuclear plants have had “events” due to jellyfish blooms (another possible side effect of climate change)?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Stephen obviously does not know “when to fold them” and continues to thrash and rant, and he is reduced to asking mindless rhetorical questions. It has warmed up enough outside that I’m going to go out and do some yardwork, but I will say this first.

            Stephen plays with numbers and extrapolates the Vogtle costs to every reactor that will be built in the future? Nice try, but he is building a straw man to knock down rather than address facts. Since Stephen pays little attention to others’ comments beyond having an emotional reaction, he has neglected to consider that the Vogtle reactors are all of the expensive, outdated, and dangerous PWR type, and that I have been advocating that new reactors be of the MFR and LFTR type, which promise to be safer, cheaper, and able to be built more quickly.

            He starts off here with “…. 30% is still a long way from total decarbonization. What will pick up that 65% to 70% of slack? Wind or solar?”. Good question isn’t it? We have painted ourselves into a corner on dealing with CO2, and we are in a race with time. I don’t know how many times I have to say we need to proceed on ALL fronts at all possible speed before Stephen hears, but my only point about nuclear is that is can and should be part of the mix.

            He has such an anti-nuclear fixation that, rather than really THINK about it, he again launches into an emotional and unintelligible rant like—–“DELUSIONAL!, you have denounced. IMMATURE!, IGNORANT!, NAIVE!, you’ve yelled. ACHTUNG!” Achtung? JFC, what the hell is that supposed to mean? Is Stephen leading up to calling me a Nazi and bringing up the holocaust?

            In his final attempt at grasping at straws, he asks “By the by, how do climatic extremes like severe drought and severe floods affect nuclear, which desperately needs lots and lots of water? (No, not the air cooled reactors that have never been built.)” A quick answer is “They are affected in the same ways as are the much more plentiful fossil fuel plants that also need water”, and I would ask him to list for us all the specific instances in which nuclear plants have had problems because of floods or droughts.

            And jellyfish? Does Stephen not see the irony there? The jellyfish population explosion is due to AGW, and a greater reliance on nuclear power in the past might have kept it from happening.

            How many nuclear plants have had “events” due to jellyfish blooms (another possible side effect of climate change)?

        • dumboldguy Says:

          The folks at Berkeley National Lab are involved with JCAP and nanomaterials, but I think you misread something when you came up with— “….nano materials that could be placed on the world’s ocean desserts to catalyze CO2 and sunlight into fuel and even turn CO2 directly back into harmless black carbon”. Have you got some specific links for that?

          “You say I sound immature, then mock me for a typo”.? Sorry, that may have been a bit unkind (IF it was really a typo—many “kids” confuse desert with dessert).

          “Well, you sound like a would be dictator. And you sound gleeful about it.
          No thanks. Here’s to the fervent hope that you never attain significant power’.

          I’m retired now, and confine my “power wielding” to attempting to herd my local politicians—they all recognize me, listen to my comments in public meetings, read and respond to my letters and e-mails, and don’t much like my letters to the editor. Small stuff perhaps, but many of my neighbors seem to appreciate my efforts.

          You “fervently hoping I never attain significant power” is laughable. I did in fact have “significant power” over a very small part of the world during my professional career and I like to flatter myself that I wielded it for the greater good. I think a measure of my success was that the “good people” thought I did a great job—-they were the rational thinkers, intelligent, concerned for the greater good and “givers”. The “bad people” I “dictated” to generally hated my guts—-they were mindless believers, willfully ignorant, self-centered “takers”. Which group would you have belonged to?

          PS Stephen, are you aware that this whole comment is basically whining and sounds even more immature than your previous comments? Do you know what it means to “know when to hold them and when to fold them”?

          • stephengn1 Says:

            A simple, logical question: If it is possible for solar and or wind to be 10% of the solution, is it possible or impossible for them then to be 20% of the solution?

            If 20% why not 30%? If 30, why not 40? …and so on.

            I read this article the other day

            http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/26/wind-solar-can-generate-electricity-half-cost-nuclear/

            If this is even partially true, please tell me why nuclear MUST be part of the solution?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            A simple-minded and meaningless question, actuallly.

            And the “truth” of your cited article is irrelevant, since no one here has said nuclear MUST be part of the solution, but merely that it SHOULD be considered and that the objections to it were largely irrational—-that CARBON DIOXIDE was the enemy, and if and when the AGW SHTF that we likely would have to employ nuclear as part of an all-out effort.

            Are you back at at school yet? Did you enjoy spring break?

          • stephengn1 Says:

            Now your just insulting me for no reason. Ok then, why SHOULD new nuclear be considered part of the solution if the objections are merely cost (cost is largely irrational?) and nothing else.

            My question applies to anything…

            If A can do the same as B at half the cost, why should B be considered over A? How is this is an irrational or irrelevant question?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Your accusing me of “tag teaming” you with E-Pot is laughable. Do you ever really read other people’s comments? If you did, you would find that E-Pot has often accused me and Christopher Arcus of tag teaming HIM, and that I have had few good things to say about E-Pot. I have little in common with racist, xenophobic, narcissistic rich kids living off their Berkshire Hathaway stock, but I DO have to side with much of what E-Pot has said about nuclear power. Both you and my only erstwhile tag team partner Arcus (but him to a much lesser extent) are ill-informed about nuclear power and hold irrational biases against it.

      You say you “have a plan in mind”? You actually have wishful thinking and naivete in mind. CO2 goes up by 2 ppm a year, has been doing so for decades, and will continue to do so far into the future. Renewables are NOT getting it done on a worldwide basis—-COAL in particular and fossil fuels in general are. Do you ever look at the many graphs available here on Crock and elsewhere that show future projections of power sources? What do you see there?—what you want to see or the truth? Do solar panels on American rooftops cancel 1000 new coal-fired generating pants?

      How do we build the “nuclear solution”? There is no such thing, because nuclear will not “solve” the GHG problem, but it CAN make a contribute to the solution. If you can accept the idea that we can’t totally decentralize generation with wind and solar any time soon, and that we DO need some large centralized power plants, the answer is easy. If you accept that anything that reduces the burning of fossil fuels and the concomitant increase of CO2 is positive, the answer is easy.

      If the rapacious free-marketers won’t build nuclear plants because there’s no “profit” in it for them, then governments must step in and support their construction as part of a multi-faceted energy plan.

      Where, what and how? Obviously in better locations than Fukushima—-as big as the planet is, we can find some. What we should build is the newer MFR and LFTR designs rather than the nuclear establishment-favored PWR’s that have had the failures that give nuclear power a bad name. How? As I said (and here I agree with E-Pot) let governments begin a big push—-cut through the politics, the FUD, and the irrational and emotional opposition and just DO IT!

      • stephengn1 Says:

        “but I DO have to side with much of what E-Pot has said about nuclear power. ”

        This is what I’m trying to get to. You’re beating a dead horse, I’ve stipulated to all that – I’m irrational, emotional, ill-informed etc. Now give me specifics on the plan.

        “If the rapacious free-marketers won’t build nuclear plants because there’s no “profit” in it for them, then governments must step in and support their construction as part of a multi-faceted energy plan.”

        Tell me more. Describe this multi-facetted energy plan. Tell me how the government is going to pay for it.

        “let governments begin a big push—-cut through the politics, the FUD, and the irrational and emotional opposition and just DO IT!”

        When used together, the terms “Governments” and “big push” = the 3 lettered word – TAX. The term “cut through” in this context = “the use of force” It also sounds like a big ugly demon named “Democracy” is in your way, but ok, we’ll just kill him – appears to work in China, right?

        • dumboldguy Says:

          You say that I’M beating a dead horse? LOL Nuclear power is just as alive as it has always been, the arguments against it are the true dead horses. How old are you anyway, and how long have you been watching what is going on on the planet? We need to add “immature” to “irrational, emotional, and ill-informed”. Your continued arguing and the newest “science fiction nano-materials spread on the ocean desserts (sic)” comment makes you sound like a kid.

          What part of the “plan” is so conceptually hard to grasp? It is obvious that your emotions are getting in the way or you would see the answers.

          1) The multi-faceted plan is simply that—-pursue any and all promising renewable technologies WITHOUT much concern for whether any profit can be made from them. Give government support to the best of them and mandate that they be adopted in place of fossil fuels. CO2 must go.

          2) The government is going to pay for it the way it paid for WW2, the Manhattan Project, putting a man on the moon, and the interstate highway system. Just print and spend the money (as we are now doing to the tune of $65 billion a month to support the big banks). Enhance real revenue by restructuring the tax system. Close loopholes and raise rates on the greedy rich and the corporations—-the country cannot continue to ride on the backs of the 99%.

          3) Are you a mindless Libertarian who wants to go back to the ‘Not-so-good old days of the 19th. century? Yes—-TAX, MANDATE, REGULATE—-but in such a way that DEMOCRACY (defined as fostering the greater good—read the Preamble) is enhanced. The Repugnants have no compunctions about using “force” to negative ends—do you approve of the Tea party agenda?

          4) Saying “….a big ugly demon named “Democracy” is in your way, but ok, we’ll just kill him – appears to work in China, right?” is not worthy of comment except to say that it really demonstrates a mindless immaturity. Please grow up.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            PS I forgot to mention the Bush wars as something the government paid for by just printing money. And all so that we could keep burning fossil fuels.

          • stephengn1 Says:

            To the scientists at Berkeley National Lab, the idea I spoke of is anything but childish.

            You say I sound immature, then mock me for a typo. Well, you sound like a would be dictator. And you sound gleeful about it.

            No thanks. Here’s to the fervent hope that you never attain significant power.


      • I have little in common with racist, xenophobic, narcissistic rich kids

        You say that like it’s a bad thing.  Oh, I know it’s unfashionable to hold melanin-rich people responsible for their actions and recognize and act on the fact that diversity destroys social capital (as liberal Robert H. Putnam was forced to acknowledge, putting truth ahead of political correctness), but is it really wrong?

        living off their Berkshire Hathaway stock

        I’d have to check to be sure, but memory hints that the value of my holding is a substantial fraction of the various government benefits that your typical illegal-immigrant family of 4 with a couple anchor babies receives each year.  I can even afford to drink cheap vodka instead of doing without (at least for now; we’ll see if Social Security still exists in 10 years).  Yeah, I’m living large over here.


  6. Re-parenting my reply to stephengn1 (comment-page-2/#comment-57236):

    Tell me more. Describe this multi-facetted energy plan. Tell me how the government is going to pay for it.

    Are you really that clueless?  Governments don’t pay for anything.  Governments only exist on resources they can tax out of private activity.  If there is no surplus from that activity beyond subsistence, government either contracts immediately or kills its means of support (and dies afterwards).

    I’ve granted you your victory against my evil and ignorance. It’s your turn.

    Sarcasm is unbecoming such a serious issue.  In all seriousness, 10 GW is considerably smaller than ERCOT (which services most of, but not all of, Texas).  Keep looking, maybe you’ll find an example we can use as a template.

    I believe that a big research push could give us nano materials that could be placed on the world’s ocean desserts to catalyze CO2 and sunlight into fuel and even turn CO2 directly back into harmless black carbon, but I recognize that’s science fiction for now.

    I happen to agree with that 100%.  I suspect that, one day, genetic engineering could yield plants which are so hygroscopic and hypertonic that they would suck water out of salt seas and desert air, converting trackless sands and barren shores to green, carbon-sucking blankets which expand by themselves.  I realize that hope is not a policy, and relying on such advances to arrive soon enough and big enough is as good as playing Russian roulette with all chambers loaded.

    To paraphrase a certain pol, we attack this problem with the technology we have.

    The US currently uses nuclear to give us 20% of our energy mix

    Fact check:  Nuclear provides about 19% of US electricity.  It is a much smaller fraction of the total energy mix.  There were attempts to use nuclear energy to serve other energy niches such as industrial process heat (e.g. the original Midland energy project, using 2 B&W reactors).  So far as I know, none of those attempts got as far as government approval to operate; the failures may well have been planned as sabotage.

    from 100 or so plants that are pretty much all getting close to the multi billion dollar D word “Decommissioning”

    Not necessarily true.  A great many licenses have been extended to 60 years.  Given the meticulous level of upkeep, many will probably qualify to go to 80 years… if they are still needed then.

    Tell me how we get to 80% – 90% and 400 – 450 plants?

    Q:  How do you eat an elephant?
    A:  One bite at a time.

    Here’s what the IPCC actually calls for, which I’ve arranged as a numbered list:

    a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero- and low-carbon supply from
    1.  renewables,
    2.  nuclear energy AND
    3.  fossil energy with carbon capture and storage (CCS) OR
    4.  bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by the year 2050.

    The zeroth thing to do is to recognize what NOT to do.  #3 on that list is uneconomic to build compared to #1 and #2.  FFs with or without carbon capture do not belong in our plan except as stop-gaps.

    The first thing to do is to get off our butts and re-learn what we used to know how to do.  Most of the current 90-odd GW of capacity was ordered in a relatively short period, from about 1965 to 1978 (I’d have to check for exact figures).  That’s a peak of around 10 GW per year.  Given modular reactor designs like the AP1000 and mPower, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to ramp up to at least that level within 5-8 years.  It’s a matter of working through the teething pains and developing a force of engineers, crews and inspectors who know what to do and how to do it right every time, on schedule and on budget.  We should be able to use at least 600 GW of generation (450 GW current average electric load, ~100 GW from electrified transportation, at least 50 GW other), so 20 GW/yr would still keep us busy for 30 years.  Ideally I’d like to see Gen IV technologies taking over by 2030.

    Second thing to do is to leverage stuff we already do.  For instance, space heat and DHW should be made with cogenerators instead of gas burners.  That buys some extra electric generation during the heating season and offsets the impact of pipeline congestion.  The electricity can help run heat pumps, charge EVs, and otherwise offset carbon emissions.  Electrifying other things makes them ready for whatever carbon-free electricity can be put onto the grid.

    The third thing is R&D.  At the pace of the 50’s and 60’s, concepts like Transatomic Power’s reactor would have gone from idea to test inside of 10 years.  We should be able to do it in 5.  What we need is one or more carbon-free replacements for coal-fired boilers that can be built in factories, brought to site on trucks, and plugged in to supply steam 24/7/365 to re-power existing stations.  Maybe the best solution will turn out to be a salt-fueled epithermal burner, maybe it will turn out to be a sodium-cooled fast breeder.  Try several and see which one(s) shake out, with an eye toward technologies we could release overseas without having to worry about weapons proliferation.  Sure, it would cost a few billion dollars.  What’s that, compared to losing a livable climate?  Just eliminating one storm like Sandy would pay for it all.

    If the USA started building AP1000’s and mPowers in a serious way starting in 2016 and hit 10 GW/yr in 2020, by 2030 we’d have about 140 GW of new nuclear running.  If half of that displaced coal at 950 gCO2/kWh and half gas at 500 gCO2/kWh, 90% capacity factor would cut US emissions by about 800 million tons/year; this is nearly 1/6 of current annual US emissions.  By the time all coal-fired capacity was replaced by nuclear, 1.7 billion metric tons per year of CO2 would be gone, fully 1/3 of total US emissions.  Electrifying light-duty vehicles gets almost 1.1 billion tons per year for a total reduction in excess of half.  Convert most of the remaining petroleum consumption to natural gas, use excess electricity for space heat and DHW (dump loads), build carbon sinks into technologies, and you’re on a slide towards 80% reduction with no show-stoppers I can see on the way to complete decarbonization.

    This is too long, and I apologize for the length and the delay, but I ran out of time to make it any shorter.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: