Ignorant damn tosser

said Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists science advocacy nonprofit….(…)…“Honestly I don’t understand the motivation,” Lyman said. “There are some people who are just strong advocates for it and they’ve sort of won the day here by convincing Bill Gates that this is a good technology to pursue.”

Re liquid sodium nuclear plants.

As a motivation, how about the idea that civilisation rather likes the idea of reliable power supplies?

21 thoughts on “Ignorant damn tosser”

  1. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    I also don’t understand what could possibly motivate anyone to convince one of the richest men on the planet to pour endless amounts of cash into their favourite toys. It’s just beyond comprehension.

  2. “nuclear power safety” “concerned scientists” “non profit”

    Translation – fucking commie cunts.

  3. “The use of liquid sodium has many problems. It’s a very volatile material that can catch fire if it’s exposed to air or water,”

    Yes… But it’s funny how reactors, especially concerning their primary coolant, are very much designed not to let that happen.
    Also funny is that if a breach happens that unleashes the sodium ( at least the proponent in the article uses Natrium, the proper name for the stuff..), it means that breach will have cracked the reactor core altogether.
    Which makes any leak of volatile reactive metal a minor issue compared to the (aftermath of) the original event that cracked the core to begin with.

  4. The Other Bloke in Italy

    “Union of Concerned Scientists”

    I recall that years ago, Anthony Watts signed up his dog as a member.

    Leftist front.

  5. “It’s a very volatile material that can catch fire if it’s exposed to air or water”

    That brings back happy memories of my school chemistry lessons! 50 years ago we could still EXPERIMENT, and on one occasion my class teacher went absolutely ballistic at something I had done – apparently it could have destroyed the classroom. I never found exactly WHAT I had made or done…

  6. the project, which will feature a sodium-cooled fast reactor and molten salt energy storage

    I was curious about the storage part. Normally you don’t store the energy generated by nuclear plants, because you don’t need to.

    The manufacturer says:

    Its innovative thermal storage has the potential to boost the system’s output to 500MWe of power for more than five and a half hours when needed. This allows for a nuclear design that follows daily electric load changes and helps customers capitalize on peaking opportunities driven by renewable energy fluctuations. As more renewables are integrated into the grid, the demand for gigawatt-hour-scale energy storage will continue to increase.

    Which is interesting. IIUIC the storage capabilities of the plant will act as a thermal battery for… leccy piped in from the rest of the grid? Or maybe I misunderstand and the objective is to set aside some of the reactor’s heat and export it as additional power when intermittent power supplies like solar and wind aren’t working.

    Maybe we have some clever boffins like on the kettle thread who can explain the efficiencies here. Seems to my ignorant mind that storing heat is probably less useful than converting it into electricity and storing it as an electrical charge in a big fuck-off battery.

    But maybe that doesn’t cost in yet, tho there’s some interesting news out of China about cheap new battery designs based on salt.

    Still, seems like a lot of unnecessary additional complexity and cost to make renewables appear viable. Why not just build nukes instead of Heath Robinsoning the energy grid?

  7. I have no problem with renewables taking up the slack of peak load, but that base load ain’t ever going away and needs to be provided come what may. It is that base load that should be covered by nuclear power, since it is always on, plus a bit more for contingencies. Any excess on the renewables (and windy days can give a lot). Any excess can be used for loading up hydro-electric reserves or other storage mechanisms for use during peak demand.

    Even if you believe the greenist hogwash of Warble Gloaming, it still makes sense to move from coal, oil AND gas to nuclear power generation because it is safer, cleaner, more reliable and less polluting. Far better to securely store a small amount of nuclear waste in pools or after that as vitrified cubes stored in dry underground salt chambers than endlessly pour more NOX and other particulates into the atmosphere. Anyone who has visited Beijing during their regular smogs will understand the foolishness of continuing to burn ever increasing amounts of fossil fuels.

    Solutions such as Molten Salt Reactors are inherently safe and cannot explode (like Chernobyl) or a create a “China syndrome” meltdown as other reactor meltdowns had the potential to do (Three Mile Island, Fukushima and others)

  8. The fact that the idiot doesn’t know that the chemical properties of the compound salt are not inherited from the base element sodium means he can be roundly ignored. This was driven home to me in school chemistry when 14 years old.

  9. And Murphry’s law strikes again. I see this is actually for a molten metallic sodium reactor, not a molten salt reactor

    mea culpa

  10. UCS were a Marxist front 40 years ago when the late great Peter Beckmann used to denounce the scum. Dr B died young while the scumbags at UCS still continue to spew their lies.

  11. @Steve
    “I was curious about the storage part. Normally you don’t store the energy generated by nuclear plants, because you don’t need to.”
    Indeed, nuclear reactors generally run at constant power for both technical reasons and economic ones: not least, the fuel cost is very low, but the capital cost is very high, so why not?
    But this means they are terrible for the grid load, which fluctuates: great for base load but not evening peaks.
    So you want a way to use power that the grid’s not taking, and ideally, a boost for when the grid wants more. An aluminium plant worked well for the first, once upon a time…when Britain was still an industrial power.

    A good form of storage meets both needs, but batteries ain’t it. There is no known technology for grid-scale batteries, nor does it seem possible within known physics.
    A huge tank of molten salt works well, ‘cos it’s cheap and can be made very hot indeed.
    Efficiency is secondary, as it’s power that would be wasted else, and you are selling into a peak market.
    NB Remember when that new one was ordered (Hinkley C?) and the fuss over the ‘excessively high’ contract price of some £100/MWh ?
    Last Monday, peak power was £2000/MWh at 5pm to 6pm !

    Europe and the UK are in for some massive power outages this winter, and thereafter, so this looks a sensible half-way step to molten-salt thorium reactors. But we’ll have to buy them from China.

  12. Decades ago I attended a seminar on the sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor. The speaker opened by saying that much of the design was dominated by handling a dangerous, corrosive, and downright tricky fluid.

    Namely the water used in the power generation: happily the sodium was much easier to deal with.

  13. Ooh, scary word alert – ‘Nuclear’!!
    Di-Hydrogen monoxide, a chemical substance used in nuclear power plants, was responsible for the largest loss of life due to power generation.

    Chernobyl = 31 deaths,
    Three Mile Island = 0 deaths,
    Banqiao Dam = 170,000 deaths.
    That nuclear may be dodgy stuff but it’s nice to have a bit of perspective.

    p.s. Don’t forget the 3 million deaths per year due to burning twigs and dung for energy in rural areas in the third world too.

  14. AIUI, the problem with liquid metallic sodium coolants isn’t that it’s a nightmare if it cracks (totally accept that’s the least of your problems at that point).

    The issue is more how to manage startup/shutdown: if the reactor cools below melting point, your coolant solidifies in the core then you’ve the devil of a job getting the coolant loop restarted.

  15. @The Pedant-General
    Not really, I suspect you are thinking of Soviet lead and bismuth cooled submarine reactors, which do have that problem.
    But the sodium/potassium alloy used in the old breeders melted at hot water temperatures (50 degrees or thereabouts?), so no great problem heating it up, if the residual heat didn’t do the job anyway.
    Key thing is it has to be transparent to neutrons, as breeders have very tight neutron budgets. And that’s very limiting. CO2 is also good, ironically.

  16. I wonder why contract prices are quoted in MWh. I wonder if it’s to deliberately make it obscure. Divide both sides by 1000 and you get kWh, the units that appear on your meter and your bill. That results in 10p/kWh and £2/kWh. Much more relateable. Oh dear, that means people can understand the numbers.

  17. @TtC Which is why they probably went for pure sodium.

    Melting point is just below boiling water, so you could in theory simply (vewwy, vewwy, cawefully..) start up the core and physics will take care of the rest as the heat spreads.
    I imagine they’ll use a heater coil here and there to make sure, but it really shouldn’t be hard to get going from a cold start.

    As for the transparency, sodium has a tiny cross-section, and from what I’ve read the only isotope that does get created by neutron capture is 24Na with a half-time of some 15 hours to stable Mg, and a measly beta-beamer at that.
    The chemical properties are far more dangerous than the nuclear, in this one.

    And as you pointed out to Steve, the primary sodium circuit can be used to heat up a much larger secondary salt heat buffer which basically works as a capacitor for the core.
    Any spike demand can be dealt with by simply taking heat out of the buffer while you don’t have to mess with the core. And for prolongued higher loads it gives you the time to leisurely ramp up the core within tolerance while still be able to deliver the required energy until things settle.

    The way it looks they’ve managed to make a nuclear design that’s near as flexible as a conventional power plant when it comes to load variance. With as much mitigation of the Ill-Behaved Neutrons and associated secondary radioactivity in the power train as physically possible.
    Which isn’t half bad, in my opinion. Pretty impressive, even.

  18. jgh: I wonder why contract prices are quoted in MWh.

    Wholesale markets have always been priced in $/MWh – maybe cause it’s easier to do the heat rate conversion? You’re also typically dealing in multiple-of-MW blocks, so quoting in per kWh doesn’t make much sense. Retail markets price in per ¢/kWh, so you have to divide one side by 1,000 and the other by 100 (or multiply by ten, which is what people do).

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