Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Our 95% nuclear/thermonuclear future

Even if we could produce 50% of today's world energy needs with renewables (sun, wind, water power) -- IOW even if we could produce as much renewable power as we are ever likely to produce -- that would only amount to 5% of the power the world will need 100 years from now when we will need 10X as much (think all rich countries, population growth).

A 95% nuclear future is the only way to go -- adding on thermonuclear when we get there.  Thermonuclear will be a along time -- similar to applying steam power to transport and manufacturing.  It took a lot of very able people 200 years to bring steam along from pumping water out of coal mines to riding on rails.  May take 50 years for equivalent progress in thermo.

Meantime there may realistically be 1000 times the proven reserves of uranium out there.  Doesn't take much -- a pound of nuclear fuel provides as much power as 200,000 pounds of coal.  Ditto may even be extracted from the oceans (like thermo's deuterium).

The Japanese reactor disaster was easily avoided.  They only had to to keep their backup power supply high up enough to not be swamped by a tsunami -- which they were warned could happen.  Nobody died on Three Mile Island.  The Russian meltdown doesn't count for us.  Earth civilization is going to self-incinerate if we don't go nuclear -- totally.

Disposing of spent fuel: how many coal mines or salt mines, etc., have we dug while waiting to dig a few uranium sites?

That's the physics of it -- can't imagine how we will handle the politics and economics of it -- 95% nuclear/thermonuclear or bust.

The book you want to read (I could only read about half -- too technical in parts) is: The Future of Fusion Energy by Jason Parisi and Justine Ball.

For the histoy of steam among other power sources, check out: Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes (Pulitzer Prize winning  author of Th Making of the Atomic Bomb).

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