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Don't count on nuclear power to help......

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posted on Jun, 12 2005 @ 01:10 PM
When fossile fuels really start to deplete many nations are counting on nuclear power to help but this is really just a temporary "band-aid" solution. Uranium which is necessary for nuclear power generation is in a finite supply as well. There are some mining experts that think we are already beginning to see over-dependence on this resource.

In a presentation to the New York Chapter of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Fletcher Newton, CEO for Power Resources, a subsidiary of Cameco, asserted that there is not enough urnaium to meet current needs, let alone future demand.
Newton said the Newchem Report, which he called one of the best sources for uranium information, has raised "significant questions about future supply," predicting a shortage of 100 million pounds of uranium over the next decade. He said the Chinese plan to build 22 reactors, and have the political will and power to accomplish the task.

There have been recent negotiations between China and Australia over Australia's uranium and the Howard government has even hinted at a nuclear power deal between India, China, the U.S. and Australia. France already generates most of it's electricity from nuclear reactors and many other nations are considering following suit. Is there enough Uranium out there or are these governments just digging themselves into another "peak oil" type hole?

Internationally, Farrell explained that 432 reactors now operate in 31 countries and three to four new plants are coming on line each year through 2010. A number of nations are realizing that to achieve the emission reductions suggested in the Kyoto Treaty, they will have to use nuclear energy, he added.

To be fair there are now processes for reprocessing spent uranium tailings and the U.S. and Russia could produce large stores of the nuclear fuel but both governments have been slow to act on this and one could argue that should a nuclear fuel crisis arise then they certainly would not export the reprocessed uranium.

Looking ahead, there is likely to be a huge increase in demand. Nuclear power plants are most likely the wave of the future: China has plans for up to 40 plants; Japan, South Korea and France have all announced plans for new plants, and even in the U.S., President Bush commented that more nuclear plants may have to be built, as part of his energy plan.
Interestingly, opposition to new facilities may be more subdued going forward. Many environmentalists have publicly recognized that nuclear power is the cleanest of available sources.
The result is a huge gap over the next 10-15 years between expected requirements and production from existing sources (plus anticipated secondary sources). The World Nuclear Association, in fact, estimates that by 2020, supply (from existing facilities and secondary sources) will be only half the expected demand (40,000 tonnes versus 70,000 - 80,000 tonnes of demand).
This enormous gap arises from an over-reliance on inventories and secondary sources in the last decade, and the long lead times to permit new mines and bring them into production. To meet this new demand, there will have to be higher prices and new supplies; many of the properties being explored now will have to come into production.

So if you were counting on switching from coal and oil to nuke plants to keep the lights on then you may be harbouring a false hope. Just one more thing to think about in the peak oil debate.


posted on Jun, 14 2005 @ 12:45 AM
a huge exaggeration.

1) there is a a large amount of highly enriched uranium from obsolete nuclear weapons which is presently in storage. This can, and has, been downblended to make it suitable for civilian power reactors. With more difficulty, we can use the plutonium as well, though there are greater security issues.

2) we haven't begun to explore for Uranium with any where remotely the vigor that we've looked for oil---because we haven't needed to. There could be many more suitable Uranium mines that we know nothing about.

3) Nuclear plants naturally produce Pu-239 and Pu-240 which can be reprocessed and again put into nuclear plants as MOX fuel. The USA doesn't do this only for political reasons. It is technically difficult and probably not economical, but you can even close the loop as a breeder reactor and never run out of fissile material.

4) even at the end, there's the thorium cycle, and there is buttloads of thorium.

Peak OIl is real. Peak Uranium or Peak Fission isn't.

posted on Jun, 14 2005 @ 10:04 AM

Originally posted by mbkennel
1) there is a a large amount of highly enriched uranium from obsolete nuclear weapons which is presently in storage. This can, and has, been downblended to make it suitable for civilian power reactors. With more difficulty, we can use the plutonium as well, though there are greater security issues.

Russia has available uraniun tailings from weapons production to produce only approx. 40 tonnes for civilian use and the U.S. has more but still only 150 tonnes.

My point was that with nearly 450 reactors online today and another 100-150 estimated to come online in the next 20 years, the ideal thing to do would be to start figuring out how to make that resource more effecient. But that is not what is in the works, the plants China wants to build are like the ones France was building in the 70's.

It makes perfect sense to question the long term availability of uranium, if there is a problem in the future with supplies then it will come at a time when fossile fuels are even more scarce. Also the other methods mentioned are not even on the drawing boards of the Utility companies with plans for building new reactors, the cost of the current systems makes it nearly impossible without gov't. subsidies, never mind adding in new or exotic processes.

posted on Jun, 14 2005 @ 04:30 PM
we have tons of fissile material in the arsenals of Democracy so i wouldnt be concerned about the shortage of nuclear power.

posted on Jun, 14 2005 @ 07:09 PM
Actually reprocessing to make plutonium for mixed oxide fuel is standard
engineering in most of Europe, and maybe Japan.

This isn't new technology.

When there are 200 tons of highly enriched weapons grade uranium (about 90%+ U-235)
that can make much more reactor fuel, as reactor fuel need be only about 4% U-235,
and U-235 is the limiting component. You may get about 20 times as much reactor fuel,
so 200 tons can make 4000 tons of reactor fuel.

Thorium reactors have been demonstrated experimentally. This is not that difficult a science or engineering project, unlike, for instance nuclear fusion.

If the world needs it, it will be there, unlike massive new sources of petroleum.

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