Highest Rated Comments

ericgmeyer32 karma

I think it’s something we can and must overcome. It’ll take big contributions from both the technical and social sciences. On the technical side, the industry needs to deliver advanced reactors that can compete with natural gas power plants and even wind and solar + storage. It looks like some of the new passively safe and factory produced designs that are working their way through the regulatory process will be able to do that. Even if they get an operating license, they’ll need a social license.

That’s where the whole ecosystem of nuclear advocacy groups can contribute by telling the story about how this incredible energy source, first pioneered by nature itself at least 1.7 Billion years ago, with the Oklo natural nuclear reactor in Gabon, can help bring us back from ecological collapse as a result of climate change. My nonprofit, Generation Atomic, is working at doing this with a team of volunteers doing outreach activities in their communities, as well as with creative musical approaches like this music video at the experimental breeder reactor and this climate parody of sound of silence. We need the nuclear for climate concept to go viral if we're going to be successful... so if you have ideas, strategies, resources to help-- we need your help.

ericgmeyer16 karma

Personally, I'd like to bring back the Atomic Energy Commission. I know it sounds ridiculous, but we haven't completed a single reactor proposed since the AEC split into the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the mid 70s. In fact... we'd be averaging about 5 years per reactor build up until this happened, and then when they split into the DOE and NRC, a reactor that was 2 years in the process (Watts Bar 2) wasn't finished until almost 30 years later.Relevant image.

ericgmeyer16 karma

What would you say is the safest way to handle waste from a nuclear power plant?

It’s hard to make a case that we can handle it any safer than we already do today, where nuclear waste is completely contained and to date zero deaths have been caused by the waste from commercial nuclear power plants. That being said, keeping them above ground and on site at the plant requires a security presence that is costly. One of the most promising inexpensive and long-term solutions might be to use horizontal drilling techniques to bury spent fuel deep underground in a geologically stable area, far below the water table, like the folks at http://deepisolation.com are testing right now. The casks would also be retrievable for a period of time, leaving the door open to recycling spent fuel in fast reactors.

ericgmeyer11 karma

Can you make an argument that nuclear power is cleaner than solar, wind, or hydroelectric?

In addition to the lifecycle emissions of gCO2/kWh, you probably want to look at mining intensity, as the sources with the greatest materials requirements are usually also the most ecologically invasive. Here's a graph that shows the mining intensity (source 2015 US DOE Quadrennial review).

ericgmeyer2 karma

The American Nuclear Society Student Conferences are usually pretty epic... the last one I was at had a "Monte Carlo" Casino, where (in addition to black jack, roullette, etc...) Monte Carlo randomization methods were used to pick winners to a fictitious horse race you could bet on. Also there was a lot of alcohol there. :D