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Are nuclear power plants responsible for global warming?

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posted on May, 8 2012 @ 12:25 PM
Someone better versed in Thermodynamics/BTUs feel free to correct my calculations.

I am interested in any and all opinions on this topic.

While nuclear plants do not emit greenhouse gases they do waste (dissipate) some serious BTUs.

Using figures from

A heat rate is “a measurement used in the energy industry to calculate how efficiently a generator uses heat energy.” The average nuclear plant heat rate is about 10,000 Btus/kWh. But only 3,412 Btus are needed to generate one kWh of electricity. Thus, for every kWh generated by a nuclear plant, 6,600 Btus are not used. What happens to all those Btus? It is dissipated through cooling towers, lakes, rivers or oceans as steam or hot water.

In one day, a nuclear plant operating at 100% power will provide 24,000 megawatt-hours (1,000 megawatts each hour for 24 hours). With a heat rate of 10,000 Btus/kWh, a nuclear plant thus produces 240 x 10^9 Btus each day.

66 percent of the 240 X 10,000,000,000 is dissipated.

I have read that there are about 441 nuclear plants in the world but do not know if that includes ships. With the recent shutdown of Japanese plants I am using 400 plants.

My result is 633,600,000,000,000 BTUs dissipated EACH DAY. This seems significant to me but alternative sources may be worse.

To put this in perspective there are about 25,000,000 BTUs in a ton of coal, 5,600,000 in a barrel of oil and it takes 8.34 BTUs to raise one gallon of water one degree F. I believe raising the air temperature depends on the humidity.

I do not know of figures for solar radiation.

So it appears the nuclear plants dissipate heat equivalent to 2,544,000 tons of coal each day. I'm starting to feel a bit warm.

I do not know the average age of nuclear plants but do recall seeing some in 1957. I believe they are now decommissioned.

posted on May, 8 2012 @ 12:37 PM
reply to post by oghamxx

i have no idea but i would think it's very possible the nuclear plants are a contributor. i don't think they are fully responsible..... but likely they don't help anything.

posted on May, 8 2012 @ 12:50 PM
Is there a global warming? That agenda still continues?

I thought it had died... taking into account that so many ppl have "debunked" it.

posted on May, 8 2012 @ 01:39 PM
I really wouldnt think so....

The thermal output of nuclear plant is insignificant in comparison to the thermal effects of the sun. Multiply the BTU effects of the sun per metres squared, by the surface area heated, by the time exposed to the sun in a day. From my own scratchings (which admittedly are probably wrong) I have the suns normal output on the earth at 4 orders of magnitude greater than your figures.

The point about man made global warming (if its correct, which is another topic) is that the greenhouse gases emitted will magnify the heating effects imparted from the only heat source thats really significant on a planetary scale (the sun).

The sun (and the way the earths ecosystem deals with it) is all that really matters.

posted on May, 8 2012 @ 02:13 PM
If I'm not mistaken I think that most nuclear power plants use evaporative cooling in the towers. Meaning they allow the water to spill into the towers and drain down and as the water comes into contact with the air it cools by evaporation.

Now, you are adding energy into the atmosphere, but I think it would be in the form of water vapor and not necessarily pure BTU's, Energy is energy is energy, I know, but it matters what form it is in when returned to the environment.

posted on May, 8 2012 @ 04:09 PM

Originally posted by oghamxxAre nuclear power plants responsible for global warming?

They might be.
But compared with all the under and overwater volcanos i guess it's like a fart in a hurricane.

Ecological taxation works fine for powerplants, not for volcanos and such.

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