May 12

The Future of Nuclear Generated Electricity

“A clean air solution is needed to mitigate the movement of carbon through electricity generation, as the current methods of generating electricity produce a significant amount of emissions, and this is expected to rise.”

PTW Nuclear Powerplant

Pottstown Limerick NPP/Used via Creative Commons License, Photo by: Mike Webkist

Electricity is important, it is the engine that drives everyday operations and technological advances. However, our society is growing at an unprecedented rate and our electricity demands continue to rise exponentially. We are projected to use 28 terawatts worldwide in 2110, compared to the 13 TW of electricity our society uses now (Lewis, 2005).

In addition, the current generation methods used for energy produces a substantial amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The purpose of my research is to show that nuclear energy is a feasible method for mass production of energy in the future, as nuclear energy is a clean air generation method, it provides a substantial amount of energy, and it has the ability to utilize a closed fuel cycle enabling for a more efficient use of supplies. My research also explores the concerns that we need to address before large-scale deployment.

Since Nuclear energy is a clean air generation method, it does not release carbon dioxide emissions when in operation. A clean air solution is needed to mitigate the movement of carbon through electricity generation, as the current methods of generating electricity produce a significant amount of emissions, and this is expected to rise. Nuclear energy produces a substantial amount of energy for its footprint.

One of the largest hurdles to large-scale deployment of nuclear energy is the disposal of waste and the safety of transporting the waste. An alternate waste “reuse” method can be implemented to cut down on waste.

We cannot rely solely on nuclear power in the future, however, we will probably see more nuclear energy plants being built and more nuclear reactors deployed during the next 100 years. Though not the complete answer to solving our energy crisis, nuclear energy is a feasible method of planning for tomorrow’s energy requirements.

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May 03
PTW Nuclear Powerplant

Pottstown Limerick NPP/ Used via Creative Commons License, Photo by: Mike Webkist

“A clean air solution is needed to mitigate the movement of carbon through electricity generation, as the current methods of generating electricity produce a significant amount of emissions, and this is expected to rise.”

Electricity is important, as it is the engine that drives everyday operations and technological advances. However, our society is growing at an unprecedented rate and our electricity demands continue to rise faster than an increase. We are project to use 28 terawatts worldwide in 2110, compared to the 13 TW of electricity our society uses now.

In addition, the current generation methods used for energy produces a substantial amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The purpose of this paper is to show that nuclear energy is a feasible method for mass production of energy in the future, as nuclear energy is clean air, it provides for a substantial amount of energy, and it has the ability to utilize a closed fuel cycle enabling for a more efficient use of supplies. This paper also explores the concerns to address before large-scale deployment including safety reputation of nuclear energy, operational costs, and waste mitigation.

While nuclear energy has a bad reputation from the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl incidents, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is committed to a safe future of nuclear energy generation as it can play a key role in tomorrow’s energy generation.

Since Nuclear energy is clean air, it does not release carbon dioxide emissions when in operation. A clean air solution is needed to mitigate the movement of carbon through electricity generation, as the current methods of generating electricity produce a significant amount of emissions, and this is expected to rise.

Nuclear energy produces a substantial amount of energy for its footprint. The findings presented in the paper compare a San Diego County nuclear power plant to a nearby wind farm, and the nuclear power plant produces more energy per acre.

One of the largest hurdles to large-scale deployment of nuclear energy is the disposal of waste and the safety of transporting the waste to the site. An alternate waste “reuse” method can be implemented to breed the used uranium into plutonium to cut down on waste.

We cannot rely solely on nuclear power in the future, however, we will probably see more nuclear energy plants being built and more nuclear reactors deployed during the next 100 years. Though not the complete answer to solving our energy crisis, nuclear energy is a feasible method of planning for tomorrow’s energy requirements.


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Apr 29

One of my ideas that I have for our garden exhibition for Environmental Science is to make smoothies using the fruits (and/or vegetables) of the garden and selected fruits from Trader Joes. I’ve heard from John that the strawberries from the garden are tasty, and I would definitely incorporate those, but I would probably purchase local (non-Ecuadorian, Guatemala, etc.) bananas to add to the smoothie. We can then create a placard for exhibition that shows the origins of the fruits in the smoothie and compare it to the origins of the fruits from Jamba Juice. I could try to bring in my mom’s Vita Mix in order to make a lot of smoothies and to provide samplings for everyone. If we had to incorporate a third ingredient, I would probably choose oranges.

What would be really cool about this is that it will be tasty but really good for you, all the vitamins in the fruits.

Another idea I am tossing around (pardon the pun) is a delicious fruit salad! This will be easy, as it requires no heating and can be prepped the night before and would basically be the same thing as the smoothie just in solid form and with other ingredients that I would draft with my partners.

I look forward to this tasty exhibition, and sharing with the community the fruits of our labor.

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Apr 27

Food Inc evoked many different emotions from me, from concern to the animals being treated improperly to sadness over Kevin’s death from E. coli, and all the commons themes/emotions have to do with the deplorable lack of corporate responsibility.

We are constantly told by our parents growing up that our choices have consequences; good choices have good consequences and bad choices have bad consequences. After watching this film, it is apparent that these food corporations are somehow exempt from the consequences of their negligence. They are uses improper procedures and it is having a bad effect, the animals are getting sick and passing it along to the humans. This is normally because the procedures they are taking yield more money for them (such as hiring cheap illegal labor and feeding cows corn that takes less time to make them fat enough for slaughtering) with little to no regard to what their choices are doing.

It saddens me that these companies have so much control over our lives, and we don’t even realize it because we normally don’t think twice about the originations of our food and how the animals/workers have been treated, and how all this “greed” surrounds this food.

I believe what hurt me the most was that the food company that was responsible for Kevin’s death by E. coli didn’t accept responsibility for his untimely death, acting like tainted meat was beyond their control. It is obvious it wasn’t and by taking some simple procedures of caring about the customers and not just “How can we make more money” this could have been prevented.

I think this states that as a society we are very greedy and care only about money and not basic human respect. It really annoys me that this is the way corporate America is, from oil companies down to the food we purchase. I was definitely impacted by this and will try to be more conscious about where my food comes, even though it was hard. I really learned a lot about cooking from the Chi Chocolat demonstration today that showed how cooking your own food could be fun and doesn’t need to contain meat. I enjoyed the presentation and think the timing was great to do that activity after watching Food Inc, if we were to do it before I don’t think I would have gotten the same affect out of it. I would have asked “where’s the meat?”

One of a discussion prompts that I would have liked to have brought up in a Socratic Seminar was “All things considered, was the organic yogurt’s contract with Wal*Mart as good as the farmer made it sound.” We have to consider that the only reason Wal*Mart wanted it was to stay current with the trends of the consumers in order to earn even more money, the only green thing corporations seem to care about.

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Mar 08
  1. I.     Intro
    1. Electricity is everywhere in our modern world…
    2. Electricity vs Energy
      1. i.     What is Energy?
    3. Current Statistics
      1. i.     US = 3 TW/yr
      2. ii.     World = 13 TW/yr
        1. Nate Lewis Lecture
    4. Projected Statistics 2050
      1. i.     World = 28 TW/yr
    5. Current Electricity Generation
      1. i.     High CO2 Emissions
    6. Feasible Method for Future (thesis)
      1. i.     Introduce Nuclear
      2. ii.     A feasible method of generating enough electricity to meet future demands is to deploy more nuclear reactors worldwide, as they are clean air, they provide for a substantial amount of energy, and they use a closed fuel cycle enabling for a more efficient use of supplies. However, there are many concerns to fix before large scale deployment including safety, the operational cost, and waste mitigation.
  2. II.     Why Nuclear Has Negative Image
    1. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island Incidents
      1. i.     Radiation from Chernobyl
      2. ii.     Radiation felt all over Europe and North America
      3. iii.     TMI: Mechanical Failure vs. Chernobyl Operator Error + Mechanical Failure
    2. Lessons Learned
      1. i.     Fail safe mechanisms
      2. ii.     Accidents paved the way to safer future through new technological advances
      3. iii.     Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  3. III.     Nuclear = Clean Air
    1. No CO2 Emissions
    2. IPCC
      1. i.     Stance on global warming
      2. ii.     “Human Induced”
  4. IV.     Substantial amount of Energy produced
    1. SONGS Stats
      1. i.     2,254 MW of power at any given time
      2. ii.     2.75 million households energy demand
    2. Compared to Wind Energy (renewable)
      1. i.     Case Study: San Gorgonio Windfarm off Interstate 10
      2. ii.     Produces only 615 MW of power
    3. Compare the amount of facilities
  5. V.     Operation Cost
    1. High Cost of Operation vs. Low Cost of Uranium
    2. Capital Needed to Build Plant
      1. i.     Possible government subsidies?
      2. ii.     Incentives to Power Companies to utilize Nuclear
      3. iii.     Promise investors big ROI
    3. Comparison of cost of uranium to cost of other supplies
    4. Overall, the cost is offset in the long run
      1. i.     If not monetary than environmental
  6. VI.     Benefits of Closed Fuel Cycle
    1. Nuclear Fission taking place in just the reactor
    2. Uranium doesn’t leave reactor during process
    3. Three loops until discharge
      1. i.     The steam you see coming out of cooling towers has no radioactive materials in it.
    4. Waste is removed following NRC protocols
  7. VII.     Con: Storage of Waste
    1. One of the biggest issues we currently face prior to large scale nuclear deployment
      1. i.     Where do we store the waste?
    2. Yucca Mountain
      1. i.     Nuclear “landfill”
      2. ii.     Rural Nevada
    3. How do we transport the waste there?
      1. i.     What happens if there is an abnormality during the transportation of the waste?
    4. Possible Solutions?
      1. i.     Sequestering waste on site
      2. ii.     Is it possible?
  8. VIII.     Uranium vs. Other Stuff
    1. i.     “One low-cost pellet of uranium 235 — weighing a few ounces — produces the same amount of energy as 140 gallons of oil, 150 gallons of gasoline, 2,000 pounds of coal or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas. “
    2. Non Renewable
      1. i.     Plentiful
      2. ii.     Breeding
        1. Forced decay from Uranium to Plutonium
  9. IX.     Conclusion
    1. We can’t rely completely on Nuclear Power to solve our future electricity demands
      1. i.     Nate Lewis’ “a plant every other day for 50 years” analogy
    2. Deploying many nuclear sites will still play a huge role in planning for tomorrow’s energy requirements.
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Feb 25

Clapp, Richard W. “Nuclear power and public health.” Environmental Health Perspectives 113.11 (2005): A720+. Environmental Studies and Policy Collection. Web. 25 Feb. 2010.

This peer reviewed article shows a spike in interest of installing new nuclear plants nationwide due to the benefits of uranium powered energy being clean air. One of the quotes from MIT on mitigating CO2 emissions in electricity sums up the need to deploy more nuclear reactors nationwide:

“…four options for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity: increasing efficiency, expanding renewable energy sources, capturing carbon dioxide and sequestering the carbon, and increasing use of nuclear power.”

The article also states that there is a new type of reactor that is “inherently safe”, a pebble bed modular reactor in South Africa pending approval for construction permits at the time of publication.

Since this article was written after 9/11, there is concern about the security of deploying nuclear plants worldwide as they act as a potential target for terrorists.

The article also states that we have learned our lessons from Chernobyl and Three Mile Island disasters and that the exposure of radiation to workers of the nuclear plants are insufficient.

“Given the availability of alternative carbon-free and low-carbon options and the potential to develop more efficient renewable technologies, it seems evident that public health would be better served in the long term by these alternatives than by increasing the number of nuclear power plants in the United States and the rest of the world. “

MIT. The Future of Nuclear Energy. Rep. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2003. Print.

This is a very comprehensive “interdisciplinary study” conducted in 2003 at MIT. After reading the summary of the study. As stated in the previous source I researched, MIT stated about the feasibility of deploying nuclear power:

““…four options for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity: increasing efficiency, expanding renewable energy sources, capturing carbon dioxide and sequestering the carbon, and increasing use of nuclear power.”

This statement alone captures the essence that nuclear power is indeed helpful to working with the energy crisis. MIT cites four problems that need to be investigated; cost, safety, proliferation, and waste must be taken into account for large scale nuclear energy deployment.

The study states that nuclear plants can justify their challenges if they contribute significantly to reducing global warming.

The MIT study estimates that by 2050, 1500 more 1GW reactors will have signed on (we have 366 reactors world wide in service as of 2003)

Another critical thing to consider is the choice of fuel cycle, “what type of fuel is used, what types of reactors “burn” the fuel, and the method of disposal of the fuel”. This is evaluated in depth in the article.

“We believe that the world-wide supply of uranium ore is sufficient to fuel the deployment of 1,000 reactors over the next half century”. This is key as even though uranium is a nonrenewable source, we still have the resources to keep it feasible for the foreseeable future.

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Feb 22

After watching “Powering the Planet” by Nate Lewis, it has become apparent that we are facing an energy crisis. Worldwide, we are currently using 13 TW of energy a year, and that number is expected to reach 28 TW by 2050. The US alone uses 3 TW of energy a year! I didn’t believe the statistics at first, I thought the US used more than only 25% of the global annual energy.

One of the interesting facts Nate Lewis brings up is that if we were to compensate for the extra 10 TW solely on Nuclear Energy, we would need to build 10,000 more 1GW Nuclear Reactors by 2050, literally a nuclear reactor every other day for the next 50 years. This shows that we can not rely on nuclear power alone. Nate Lewis also goes into to showing the feasibility of deploying carbon less primary energy sources such as how a huge 250 square mile or so solar cell in the midwest could power the US continuously if we were able to find out a feasible way of storing the energy over night.

All in all, I found this lecture really interesting and will probably be modeling my senior project investment video on the techniques that Nate Lewis used such as using thought provoking statistics to get a point across.

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Feb 10

I have decided to broaden my topic choice for my senior project to incorporate multiple methods of energy generation for the future, not just nuclear energy. This is important as I found out during the critique last time that the storage of nuclear waste is one of the hurdles in deploying a large scale network of nuclear generating stations.

I want to work on the project with Jake Neighbors still as he seems to share a passion for energy generation in 2110 with me.

Visually speaking, I am planning to make it a clean, “happy” video of how we were able to “save” Earth by using clean energy. This will include shots that I take of the diverse energy generation stations all over Southern California.

I think Margaret will like it even though it is not a violent film (unlike some SciFi post apocalypse ideas I had.)

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Feb 10

After watching, An Inconvenient Truth, I have decided that I want to broaden my horizons to investigate the energy outlook in 2110 as a whole instead of just nuclear energy.

World Energy Crisis. Web. 09 Feb. 2010. <http://planetforlife.com/>.

This shows that oil, coal, and natural gas were supplying 85% of the world’s energy needs in 2008. So far, we have discovered enough oil to last us for another 42 years. Of course, as John said, this number has remained constant for a while, and is most likely due to the fact that we have only discovered what we truly need for the near future.

With regards to global warming, this site investigates several alternate energy sources to mitigate the release of carbon when burning fossil fuels to create energy. As evident in the wedge of mitigation (as I call it), we can save some CO2 emissions by switching to clean air energy. It is important that we cut down on our emissions as there is a positive correlation between CO2 in the atmosphere and the Average Temperature (as seen in An Inconvenient Truth)

“Clean-Air Benefits of Nuclear Energy.” Nuclear Energy Institute. Web. 11 Feb. 2010. <http://www.nei.org/keyissues/protectingtheenvironment/cleanair/>.

This resource from the NEI is helpful for my original topic of focusing on nuclear energy. It also shows that the generation of nuclear energy does not create any ozone harmful gases (such as Nitrogen Oxide) that protects the environment from being adversely affected by ozone depletion. This is mandated by the Clean Air Act of 1970.

Also, the site goes onto talk about how nuclear generation doesn’t produce CO2, the largest greenhouse gas that is contributing to climate change.

“Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, clean-air electricity source that can be expanded widely to produce large amounts of energy. Nuclear energy makes up more than 70 percent of all the nation’s clean-air electricity generation. U.S. nuclear power plants also prevented the emission of 1 million short tons of nitrogen oxides and 2.7 million short tons of sulfur dioxide—pollutants controlled under the Clean Air Act. The amount of nitrogen oxide emissions that nuclear plants prevent annually is the equivalent of taking more than 47 million passenger cars off the road.”

“Wind Energy in California.” California Energy Commission Home Page. Web. 11 Feb. 2010. <http://www.energy.ca.gov/wind/overview.html>.

Wind energy is being utilized in California and across the globe to attempt to cut down on CO2 emissions during energy generation. Wind energy is feasible in places where there is a high wind and a low risk of building towers (i.e. not by an airport).

In California, there is currently a federal tax credit (i.e. monetary incentive) for those who decide to utilize wind generation. It is also interesting to know that in California 4,000 jobs were created when the state decided to utilize wind energy.

This site is helpful as it gives a glimpse of a clean air, alternative energy generation method that can help with reducing CO2 emissions.

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Feb 03

I was doing some more research about growing strawberries in San Diego’s climate and multiple sources are recommending the “Seascape Variety”. These are apparently perfect for planting at this time of the year.

The Peaceful Valley SKU is FP786 for 1 lb (about 40 plants) for $7.99. It is better to buy plants than to buy seeds if we want a harvest soon.

Please note that this item ships separately and accrues shipping charges.

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