Feeds

Nuclear reaction: what's next in energy science?

What to expect now even tree-huggers love nukes

Boost IT visibility and business value

"You might want 300MWe now, and another 300MW in five years' time. If you've got the infrastructure you can modularise it."

Costs

Nuclear is unchallenged when it comes to producing baseload electricity, but controversy rages over the true long-term cost. Grimes acknowledges that CO2 reduction targets help enormously.

"I don't see nuclear as something that produces all your electricity, it's a mix, and getting the balance right is crucial," he says. "It's going to be different for different countries; I imagine we'd want to build a lot of wind turbines, but we're going to need nuclear as a our baseload capacity - and a lot of it."

Disposal costs will fall by the time the Generation IV reactors come online.

Nuclear energy facilities under construction, measured by output (MW). China has 24 underway and Russia 11.
Source: IAEA

"My personal opinion is that a complete recycle, with complete reuse of uranium and plutonium and the minor actinides is feasible, but it leaves us with a 300-year problem."

Which is a major improvement, of course. Currently some of the isotopes in the actinides have a half-life of 100,000 years. We should remember where we left stuff 300 years ago, particularly if it's radioactive.

Readers regular raised a couple of fascinating developments in nuclear research. What did Grimes make of them?

One is using the thorium fuel cycle. Thorium is four times more abundant than uranium. India is the biggest backer of thorium reactors. Grimes took a visit a year ago to have a look [pdf].

Thorium: There's a lot of it about

Thorium, however, doesn't have a fissile isotope, which complicates things a bit: you have to breed the artificial isotope uranium-233. Grimes points to another advantage.

"Because you've started with a lower mass isotope number, you produce less of the higher atomic number isotopes - plutonium and minor actinides - than you do with a uranium-plutonium cycle.".

"It will happen, because India wants it to be so. It has a lot of thorium, and not a lot of uranium. So that will allow us to get over the technology barrier; it could well be that it's a sensible and viable option."

Another factor comes from a quite unlikely source. Norway has one of the highest per-capita GDPs in the world, thanks to North Sea oil, and has reaped the benefits of hydroelectric power. But Norway discovered it may also be sitting on one of the world's largest supplies of thorium oxide.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
BAT-GOBBLING urban SPIDER QUEENS swell to ENORMOUS SIZE
But they'd lose a deathmatch against the coming Humvee-sized, armoured Arctic ones
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
TRANSMUTATION claims US LENR company
Ten points of stuff out of a five pound bag
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?