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Ken Garlock
11-25-2005, 4:16 PM
Last spring my daughter, Kristine, decided that I should be reading something more erudite than Donald Duck comic books:rolleyes: Her solution was to sign up for National Geographic, Discover, and Scientific American magazines. They are good reading, but not for everyone.:) And I must admit that I don't understand half of what they are talking about, Scientific American especially.

This month is different. The December issue of Scientific American contains a thought provoking article on a solution to 1) electric power shortages, and 2) the problem of nuclear waste. Starting on page 84 is an article by three experienced nuclear Physicists. The article is "Smarter Use of Nuclear Waste."

The six page article proposes that the US pursue a program of building 'fast-neutron' reactors. Without trying to explain something I really don't know, the situation is this:

1) Current nuclear electric power plants are of the 'slow-neutron' type that can only sustain a reaction when easily fissionable material is in the fuel rods. The result is that only 3% of the uranium is used, or just 1% of the uranium that was originally mined. Thus we are left with a huge pile of 'spent' rods that will be radio active for ten thousand years. Can you say 100 tons per year per reactor?:eek:

2) The authors propose that the ban on 'fast-neutron' reactors, put in place by Jimmy Carter, be removed. This will allow the fast-neutron reactors to split/use those isotopes of uranium that are not usable in the existing 'slow-neutron' plants. The authors outline a method for reprocessing the existing spent rods into "fast" fuel. This new process, called Pyroprocesssing, would produce a fuel that would produce about 1 ton of mildly radio active waste per year per reactor with a half life of a couple hundred years instead of the ten thousand years with the current reactors.

I found the article interesting, and recommend that you stop by your library and read it. It is not a highly technical article, but rather deals in terms that nearly everyone has heard. If it were up to me, every elected and appointed person in federal government would be required to read it. This makes sense, big sense.:)

My enthusiasm is muffled by a statement by Mark Twain.
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member
of Congress. But I repeat myself."

Curt Harms
11-25-2005, 7:18 PM
Nah, that might make sense.

John Shuk
11-25-2005, 9:31 PM
Try getting ANY type of nuke plant built in the US. I just don't think anybody is going to be willing to put up with the resistance to build one for many years to come. Compared to the constant pollution generated by the petroleum industry (spills,fumes,smog) I can't see why Nuke isn't embraced here. It really is a case of people being scared of something they don't understand. I live 15 miles from Indian Point and have no problem with it at all.

Pete Simmons
11-25-2005, 9:59 PM
My work for the last 30 years or so kept me within 100 to 200 yards of a reactor. Navy Nuke Program then Millstone Nuclear Station.

Americans as a group, are odd as we refuse to accept some risks. Nukes being Very RISK refused. Every large industrial function has it hazards. Oil and Gas burn and explode every once in a while. Autos kill many thousands each year. A power plants product - electricity - kills many people each year. Utility poles have killed way more people ( by jumping in front of people while the person was moving ) than just about all industrial hazards.

The power industry will spend millions of your dollars for maybe a very small gain in safety. The NRC is always looking to be told - We will make sure some event will NEVER happen again. I used to say I cannot guarantee the the sun will come up tomorrow much less that this or that will never hapen again. I could say it is very unlikely that this or that will happen and that we will do our best to not let it happen. But then we would go and spend more $$$ to add 0.000001 % assurance.

We need to accept some small amount of risk and get on with the program.

I now live about 25 miles from Kennedy Space center. I bet all of the above applies there also.

I saw a news article of an astronaut looking at a wall of the killed in action astronauts. It sounded odd at the time but then I understood, he said something along the line of. If this wall is not filled up in the next 100 years or so then we are NOT doing our job. We need to go out and explore and take and accept the risks associated with doing that or we are going nowhere!!

Jerry Clark
11-25-2005, 10:34 PM
I agree-- we have to take some risk. I am amazed to think of the subs and carriers that can go 10 years without refueling which saves millions of barrels of crude oil. And the personnel is sleeping next to the reactors. The crude will run out sometime and we need something to replace it. There are risks in everything.:rolleyes:

Ken Fitzgerald
11-26-2005, 9:17 AM
It amazes me the number of people who are "nuclear-phobic"! A few years ago after 9/11, the dirty bomb scare.....over reacting people sealing their homes with plastic to shield them from dirty bombs/ nuclear material. Unless you are at or near ground zero or within a relatively small radius of a nuclear detonation or very large unshielded source, you certainly have a lengthy time period to "clean up" before any harm is encountered. I was trained and functioned as a member of the NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) warfare team at one naval air station. I have worked around nuclear powered submarines in the Navy and have ridden a nuclear powered aircraft carrier. We as a society need to get better educated about nuclear power and we need to hold businesses who deal with nuclear power accountable for any short cuts they might take to make a bigger buck. It's my understanding that 3 Mile Island disaster could have been averted with normal preventative maintenance schedules being completed on time. I believe nuclear power is a risk worth taking and that we must hold those businesses that deal with it to a higher standard of operation because they deal with it.

John Shuk
11-26-2005, 12:19 PM
It is an absolute embarrassment in my area to see the way people attack the Nuke plant. They cite safety and environmetal issues that just aren't issues. It is easy to scare people I guess. It amazes me to think that if we take a relatively small area that is used for nothing in Nevada and dispose of our waste there using great precautions we could cut so far back on the pollution that effects millions of people every day.

Randy Meijer
11-26-2005, 4:46 PM
.....2) The authors propose that the ban on 'fast-neutron' reactors, put in place by Jimmy Carter, be removed....


Jimmy Carter was a pretty smart guy.....just not a very good politician. Given that he was not in favor of "fast-neutron" reactors, there must be a down side to them. Wonder what it is??

Just an idle thought or two. I agree that there are always risks. When an oil refinery blows up, it kills 20 people and damages a few 10s of acres which can be repaired in a few years. When a nuclear power plant goes red, thousands of people are killed or injured, hundreds of square miles are compromised for generations. Ans finally, I just don't trust our private industry or our government to be willing to pay for the cost of the safety controls that would make a plant really safe......and as we all know, accidents do happen in spite of our best efforts, sometimes.

I would much rather see our efforts directed toward harnessing safer and renewable energy sources. Even uranium is not an unlimited resource and will run out sooner or later. When the first folks started using it, I'll bet they never considered that it would all be used up one day. Efforts to harness wind, tides, solar energy and geothermal energy seem to me like much better alternatives.

John: Just as a useless aside. I used to SCUBA dive in the quarry that is now used to cool the reactors at Indian Point. It is 160' deep and the water at the bottom is about 40 year round. Needless to say, my activities preceded the building of the reactor otherwise I might glow in the dark!!!:D :D

Lee DeRaud
11-26-2005, 6:52 PM
Jimmy Carter was a pretty smart guy.....just not a very good politician. Given that he was not in favor of "fast-neutron" reactors, there must be a down side to them. Wonder what it is??If I remember correctly, the main issue is that the waste from that type of reactor is much easier to use for weapons than the waste from a conventional reactor: that's how/why we came up with them in the first place. And the difference in the half-life of the waste is meaningless from a political standpoint: there is exactly zero difference in the public's mind between 100 years and 10000 years.

When it comes right down to it, the biggest problem the nuclear-power industry in this country had was the lack of a "standard" reactor and facility design: every proposed nuclear power plant started from ground zero as far as the regulatory process was concerned. This is one thing the French (and maybe the Canadians) really did right: their government helped develop the basic blueprint that every plant in France had to follow, making the process of getting the things built much less expensive.

Curt Harms
11-26-2005, 7:26 PM
We as a society need to get better educated about nuclear power and we need to hold businesses who deal with nuclear power accountable for any short cuts they might take to make a bigger buck. It's my understanding that 3 Mile Island disaster could have been averted with normal preventative maintenance schedules being completed on time. I believe nuclear power is a risk worth taking and that we must hold those businesses that deal with it to a higher standard of operation because they deal with it.

I take what I see on the cable channels (History, Discovery etc.) with a large grain of salt but.... one show I recall talked about TMI. According to this show, the engineers at reactor manufacturer (Babcock & Wilcox?) were aware of what the problem was and how to fix it before things got out of hand. They couldn't reach the operators in the control room because there was ONE PHONE LINE, and it was busy!. True or not?

I wonder about environmental changes caused by solar energy, geothermal etc. Certainly getting a small percentage of our energy from such sources won't have an impact. If a substantial percentage of our energy came from these sources, might the lack of solar radiation which drives winds, evaporation etc. but is no longer hitting the ground cause climate changes? I don't know, but I wonder if anyone has considerated it?:confused:

A couple hundred cars don't have much of an environmental impact, a few tens of million do. Is the same true of the current crop of renewable energy sources?

John Shuk
11-26-2005, 7:32 PM
Randy. Sent you a PM.

Ken Garlock
11-26-2005, 7:45 PM
Lee is correct about Jimmy Carter. At the time he made the correct decision, but now it is time to move on.

My personal opinion is that all the objection to new nuclear power plants is, to be polite, total baloney. There are currently 104 nuc power plants operating in 31 states. That number has held steady at 104 since 1998, having peaked at 112 in 1990. Several have been taken off line due to old age. The total electricity generated 2004 was over 99 million kilowatts, or around 20% of the electricity generated/used in 2004. World wide there are 440 nuclear power plants operating.

Another point in the Scientific American article is that there is a limited amount of uranium ore to be mined, possibly as little as 40 years worth.

Chris Padilla
11-29-2005, 7:49 PM
Propaganda leads to "not in my backyard."

Californians pay steep gas prices because no one want to live next to an oil refinery.

Don Baer
11-29-2005, 8:46 PM
Propaganda leads to "not in my backyard."

Californians pay steep gas prices because no one want to live next to an oil refinery.

Actually not entirely true. California has the refineries to provide all of our gasoline and that of several neighbors. As I recall there are at least 10 refineries in the state. The reason why the oil companies claim gas costs more is because of the additives and also the high Gasoline taxes the state gets. Phoenix get most of there gas from California and I paid at least .25/gal over there then over here.

Mike Cutler
11-29-2005, 11:01 PM
Wow.. Moving to solving global energy demands are we.

If I may interject some thoughs here.

We don't need 90%+ enriched plants. The built in poisons from such plants are a nightmare, and the chemistry is unbelievable. A 3-4% enriched plant can easily be manipulated to satisfy energy requirements. The end result is the turbine, and a 345KV generator. That is your limiting operational requirement
The Navy uses highly enriched plants, but, and a big one here, they use halfnium rods as moderators and control power with rod height/ rod worth. They are physically much smaller than a commercial plant.
A commercial reactor uses chemistry, in the form of Boric Acid, and pure water to control power output. Rods are still manipulated, but the power is a result of coolant system chemistry. A commercial plant can run 18-24 months between fuel cycles.
I don't know where SA got a 100ton value per year per plant for fuel assemblies, but this number is in error. not all fuel assemblies are replaced every refuel, and a refueling cycle is not once per year.

The storage of high level radioactive waste needs to be addressed. There is no getting around this problem, or the issues of effluent discharges to the enviorment that have detectable concentrations of radioactivity.
We need to follow the lead of the french, and reprocess the fuel that we can before we commit all of it to long term storage facilities.

The "standardized design concept" has merit, but realize that those countries mentioned have goverment subsidized, and goverment run reactors. Any flaw in a single standardized design would effect all plants simultaneuosly. potentially crippling all of the energy output with a single fault.
US plants are built to a much more rigid design model, based on redundancy of systems, and components
We need more than one standardized design, by more than one vendor to remove a common mode failure from affecting all of the plants simultaneuosly.

The accident at TMI was caused by a myriad of errors and assumptions, at all levels of the organization. Poor decision making, and lack of objective qualatative data led to erroneous assumptions, and "fixes" being implemented. Most of the "media presentations" on TV have huge holes of missing data from the programs.While they may be true, and factual presentations, they are only half truths, and not all facts were presented.

Almost all of the US pressurized water reactor plants had to be extensively modified following TMI to remove the human element and ensure that safety systems worked as designed and would automatically shut the plants down safely.( Ironically, the initiation of an automatic safety system is a big no no today. It is viewed as a loss of professional expertise and execution of plant personel to properly operate the plant and shut it down manually, never challenging a safety limit or design)
Redundant systems were installed. New theoretical models were developed that changed the way all plants were operated. Regulatory guidance and compliance was beefed up as a result of TMI

It is unfortunately a huge political issue. People are afraid of what they don't know about, and can't see. The biggest challenge to restoring Nuclear Power as a viable energy alternative is educating the people, so that they are capable of making a rational, fact based decision about Nuclear Power. The erosion of math and science skills in the US is apalling. It is very difficult to make an argument for nuclear power, becuase so much of it is scientific in nature when presented, and requires a good math background to more fully grasps the concepts

Sorry for the soapbox stand fellows, I work at a nuclear power facility. I maintain and calibrate all of the instrumentation that are utilized by these safety systems.

We need a balance approach to our energy demands in the US, we need to have diversity in the technologies to protect the energy demands.

Lee DeRaud
11-29-2005, 11:39 PM
The "standardized design concept" has merit, but realize that those countries mentioned have goverment subsidized, and goverment run reactors. Any flaw in a single standardized design would effect all plants simultaneuosly. potentially crippling all of the energy output with a single fault.
US plants are built to a much more rigid design model, based on redundancy of systems, and components
We need more than one standardized design, by more than one vendor to remove a common mode failure from affecting all of the plants simultaneuosly.I find these statements...curious. Could you give an example of how a flaw in a single standardized design would cause all the plants using that design to fail simultaneously?

Mike Cutler
11-30-2005, 6:32 AM
Lee. You are not looking at a failure per se, in the classical sense. Any design deficienies or improper use/selection of materials could cause problems. These problems could be manifest in a manner that would put the plants outside of their design basis criteria, and regulatory enforcment would have to shut them down to comply with federal regulations.

Currently all PWR style reactors are undergoing bare metal inspections of every single reactor head, every refueling due to the incidence of erosion at the Davis Besse plant that resulted in a failure of the internal metal surface.
The inconnel J welds used in primary system piping nozzles and penetrations are also subject to acccelerated degradation and have to be repaired. These nozzle were the "standard" 20 years ago. The repairs are now beginning to fail, and there is no repair for the repair other than to remove the entire nozzle. There are hundreds upon hundreds of nozzles in an primary coolant system.

As theoretical models are analyzed, the findings may require additional equipment and or system to mitigate or prevent a theoretical accident. This has happend, and all plants had to be modified to conform to these new models before they could continue operation. This will happen in the future with certainty as we develop more models. to increase the reliability and safety of the plants.

Changes to nuclear power plants are not easy to implement. The regulatory scrutiny is tremendous, as it should be. to ensure that changes made conform to the operational liscense of the plant and conform to federal regulations without compromising safe operation or safe shutdown margins.

The single standardized design concept does also not allow for the introduction of newer technologies, as they occur. The current designs for nuclear power plants, on the drawing boards are way ahead of anything currently built, anywhere. The plants do not have fuel assemblies. A fluid bed concept is utilized that facilitates the refueling of the core on a continuous duty basis, without having to shutdown. Other designs utilize the physical principals of natural circulation to eliminate the need for reactor coolant pumps.
More than one vendor has designs for "Modular Facilities" that can be "hooked together" and upgraded as grid requirements dictate.
The ability to adopt new technologies and designs mitigates the designed obsolecense that currently exists. The French, and the EU will need to have a huge nuclear program rebuilding as the parts and materials, for their current generation of plants, become financially not viable for their current lower tiered supply vendors tp produce, or their goverments will have to subsidize these vendors to maintain these obsolete inventories.

In the instrumentation field this is readily apparent, as parts and components are no longer produced and supported by the original vendor. If you are only 2% of a companies total sales. It is not cost effective for that vendor to continue to stock parts, and repalcement components. This results in increased engineering costs to redesign these systems and components to use a newer, currently supported component. Nature of the business though.


I would not want to have just one model to choose from. My opinion only.

Curt Harms
11-30-2005, 11:21 AM
"It is unfortunately a huge political issue. People are afraid of what they don't know about, and can't see. The biggest challenge to restoring Nuclear Power as a viable energy alternative is educating the people, so that they are capable of making a rational, fact based decision about Nuclear Power. The erosion of math and science skills in the US is apalling. It is very difficult to make an argument for nuclear power, becuase so much of it is scientific in nature when presented, and requires a good math background to more fully grasps the concepts"

Amen to that. I suspect the primary source of opinion-forming information for a lot of people is the movie "the china syndrome"

Lee DeRaud
11-30-2005, 11:34 AM
Mike, I understand these issues. What I don't understand is how making each reactor a one-off custom design (which is pretty much the situation now) helps the situation any.
Changes to nuclear power plants are not easy to implement. The regulatory scrutiny is tremendous, as it should be. to ensure that changes made conform to the operational liscense of the plant and conform to federal regulations without compromising safe operation or safe shutdown margins.As it stands currently, you have to go through that process and pay that cost once per reactor design rather than spreading it across an "inventory" of existing plants.
The single standardized design concept does also not allow for the introduction of newer technologies, as they occur. The current designs for nuclear power plants, on the drawing boards are way ahead of anything currently built, anywhere. The plants do not have fuel assemblies. A fluid bed concept is utilized that facilitates the refueling of the core on a continuous duty basis, without having to shutdown. Other designs utilize the physical principals of natural circulation to eliminate the need for reactor coolant pumps.
More than one vendor has designs for "Modular Facilities" that can be "hooked together" and upgraded as grid requirements dictate.
The ability to adopt new technologies and designs mitigates the designed obsolecense that currently exists. The French, and the EU will need to have a huge nuclear program rebuilding as the parts and materials, for their current generation of plants, become financially not viable for their current lower tiered supply vendors tp produce, or their goverments will have to subsidize these vendors to maintain these obsolete inventories.You're acting as if the standard itself is cast in stone and not allowed to evolve: it's as if Boeing and Airbus were forced to completely redesign their airframes from scratch every time GE or Pratt & Whitney changed an engine design. And certainly new designs and technologies will be developed and added to the standard, but the whole point of having a standard (or set of them) is that the second, third, fourth, etc instance of that design is much cheaper to build because it isn't starting from scratch with regard to the regulatory process.

Mike Cutler
11-30-2005, 12:43 PM
Lee. Yes and No to some of your points.
I agree that the "One Off " design has demonstrated it self to be a nightmare of regulatory compliance and development.
What I would advocate would be Standardized designs based on Venor and location.
You cannot build a nuclear power plant in the middle of Kansas the same way that one can be built off the coast of California or Wisconson. The entire plant heating and cooling designs would be vastly different based on the availability of water, and the type of water available. So differences would have to exist.

If Boeing and Airbus had to present their proposed design changes to an outside agency prior to building anything, and then have a public forum to discuss these issues and design changes, and then prove and validate that the proposed design would still meet the curent industry accepted designs for safety, based on a possibly outdated model, for which their design may not conform before they ever manufactured a new plane. We might all still be travelling in 707's and DC-10's. We'll stay away from the runway requirements that were necessary for the evolution of airplane development. but it was all profit driven.

As for being "Cast in Stone". It seems that way at times, and believe me it is very frustrating. Nuclear power is slow to embrace new technologies. If something works and the design is within limits, and parts are available. Why change it? Especially if the newer design/technologies presents a new set of failure strategies, both known and unknown.
If Boeing discovers an engineering design in a plane it does not have to ground it's entire fleet, only those planes affected by that design. You wouldn't ground all of the 747's if a 757 had a design problem that didin't affect the 747's. If all Nuke plants were identical and a design flaw was discovered 10 years later in one of them. All of that type of plant would have to be shut down to correct a fleetwide issue.
Sometimes redundancy, and design efficiency can work against you. What utility would want to take the chance that a flaw discovered by one utility could possibly cause them to have to shut down their plants or commit to extended shutdowns. Would we have a national electric rate, with built in costs for replacement power in place so that all plants regardless of geogrphical location incurr the same costs for these changes?
There is no easy answer, that's for sure. If we had the answers. We certainley wouldn't be working for a living:) We'd be Big Buck consultants, with lots of free time for woodworking:cool: , and we'd have all the best tools, and machines.;)

Lee DeRaud
11-30-2005, 1:04 PM
Mike, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I suspect my concept of "standard-design" is a lot closer to what you advocate than you think. I just think the problems you ascribe to the standard-design method are a lot easier to handle than the ones inherent in the custom-design method. As it stands now, it's like forcing every home builder to submit plans to a city's permit department, but with no building codes in place to evaluate them against...we'd still be living in caves, using water-powered tablesaws.

Mike Cutler
11-30-2005, 2:17 PM
Lee you are correct. I also think that we are closer in agreement than is indicated. I am just caught uo in the strict mechanics of implementation.

Your analogy on building codes is a good one. To carry it one step further, it would be like forcing Mark Singer to build and design to the same requirements as are necessary to build a house on the steep hillsides of Laguna, and apply those same requirements, without deviation on a house built on a flat section of Ball Rd. or Katella.

Thank you for being civil about the matter, in your posts. Nuclear Power can really polarize people.

Lee DeRaud
11-30-2005, 2:23 PM
Your analogy on building codes is a good one. To carry it one step further, it would be like forcing Mark Singer to build and design to the same requirements as are necessary to build a house on the steep hillsides of Laguna, and apply those same requirements, without deviation on a house built on a flat section of Ball Rd. or Katella.One of Mark's houses on Ball Road would be waaaay overpriced, for one thing.:eek: I take it you've been out here?
Thank you for being civil about the matter, in your posts. Nuclear Power can really polarize people.Or at least make them glow in the dark...
(Sorry, couldn't resist.:p )

Mike Cutler
11-30-2005, 3:04 PM
Lee.

Yes, I've been out there. ;)
I grew up in Highland Park, right off of Fiqueroa Blvd, about 2 miles from the intersection of Fig, and Colorado Blvd. I've lived in Pomona, Diamond Bar and Rowland Heights.
I graduated from Ganesha High School in Pomona.
Used to spend the summers in Newport Beach with my Dad. Used to live between PCH and the beach on 39th street. To give you an idea of how long ago this was, I remember when they were putting the jetty's in at Newport Beach, and they weren't filled with concrete the whole time I lived in So. Cal. We used to get lots of crabs and starfish out of those rocks.
I used to play beach Volleyball for $dough$ at the courts where 133 meets PCH in Laguna. They were gone last I was there.
Funniest part is that by 10 years old I could tell you how to get to Disneyland from any freeway in So. Cal. At 45 I got lost when I got off the 57 freeway. I could see the Matterhorn, I just couldn't get there. pretty funny My wife was teasing me about how only I could get lost going to Disneyland.
A lot has changed since I grew up there.

Michael Perata
11-30-2005, 8:56 PM
The progressive side of my soul says do no unnecessary harm to your environment.

The realist side of soul my says there are 440+ reactors operating worldwide since the 1950's and the have been two significant accidents: Chernoble being the most violent and life-threatening. Three Mile Island was handled well and was mostly a news item and storyline for a movie.

More people die from lung cancer caused by Radon gas in one year than if 10 Chernobles had failed.

We are a silly society. We test toasters at home for RF radiation by plugging a RF radiation detector into a 120VAC circuit. We worry about brain cancer from our cell phones while driving down the freeway at 80 mph listening to some inane joke on the same phone that is distracting you from your driving.

The time to promote nuclear is now when people have to feed the gas pump $3.00 for each gallon.

I would write my Senators for their support, but one is from San Francisco and the other from Marin County. I love them both, but....

The time is now for nuclear power construction to be restarted and for a natural gas distribution system to be built so we can get to the point where the only oil you need is for an oil change.

Lee DeRaud
11-30-2005, 9:04 PM
The time is now for nuclear power construction to be restarted and for a natural gas distribution system to be built so we can get to the point where the only oil you need is for an oil change.I know what you meant (at least I hope I know what you meant), but my first reaction to that sentence was,
"Ok, which is scarier? A nuclear-powered car, or one powered by natural gas?" :eek:

Mike Cutler
12-01-2005, 9:56 AM
Ahh... Lee. you're killin' me back here;)
Nuclear powered cars. :eek: Too frightening, even for me.
We already have propane powered light utility vehicles in service. not many though, 'cause propane is pretty expensive.
Having a propane/natural gas vehicle could put a whole new twist on tailgate parties before football games though.:D :eek:

Lee DeRaud
12-01-2005, 11:18 AM
We already have propane powered light utility vehicles in service.UPS does that, IIRC. And I think the local bus line has some LNG-powered units. But those are "fleet" operations. I guess it's not the vehicle itself that bothers me, it's standing next to some bozo at the filling station who's talking on the phone and smoking and lord knows what, instead of paying attention to getting the connection tight between his car and the fueling rig.:eek: (Could be worse, I guess: LH2 anyone?)

Michael Perata
12-02-2005, 5:09 PM
'cause propane is pretty expensive.

It is expensive because of distribution costs. It would be very economical if the distribution system was equal to the gasoline distribution system.

Vaughn McMillan
12-02-2005, 9:41 PM
Having a propane/natural gas vehicle could put a whole new twist on tailgate parties before football games though.:D :eek:
I used to be a crew member on a hot-air ballon for which the F250 chase truck was propane powered. Made it handy when filling the ballon propane to be able to top off the truck while we were there. We also had keys to the propane distributor's yard, so we could fill up on weekends and early in the morning when he was closed. We'd simply leave a note saying how much gas we took, and the balloon owner would pay the bill later. Lee's right, though, about requiring a whole 'nother level of precaution when doing fill-ups. I've done balloon tank fillups at big rallies where 40 to 50 people are simultaneously filling tanks at the "propane farm". One wrong move and it's a BIG boom.

- Vaughn

Mike Cutler
12-03-2005, 1:14 AM
I used to be a crew member on a hot-air ballon for which the F250 chase truck was propane powered. Made it handy when filling the ballon propane to be able to top off the truck while we were there. We also had keys to the propane distributor's yard, so we could fill up on weekends and early in the morning when he was closed. We'd simply leave a note saying how much gas we took, and the balloon owner would pay the bill later. Lee's right, though, about requiring a whole 'nother level of precaution when doing fill-ups. I've done balloon tank fillups at big rallies where 40 to 50 people are simultaneously filling tanks at the "propane farm". One wrong move and it's a BIG boom.

- Vaughn

Fortunately, or unfortunately. I have a lot of experience with pressurized cylinders of volatile gasses, and non volatiles.
I know that the tanks conform to DOT, and NFPA regs for overpressure protection, but dang that propane can expand fast.
I don't really like propane much.I'll take gasoline and H2SO4 any day over propane.

An interesting story about compressed cylinders for everyone.
You know how we are always told that if a compressed cylinder were to fall over and the have the neck/valve break off it would turn into a missile?

Well... A long time ago, in a life far far away, while I was in bomb school. I spent the better part of day trying to launch one of these, with Det cord, shape charges and dynamite. I never could get one to do this. The best I could get, was getting it to spin like a top and dance around some. I was very disappointed.
I guess it's one of those things that you just can't force to happen, it just happens. Still it would have been cool
Oh yeah.. Don't try it at home. The military is much more set up for this type of field test.
;) :eek: :eek: :D

Keith Outten
12-03-2005, 6:18 AM
We shouldn't forget that the Power Company failed to report critical information during the Three Mille Island incident to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Governor of Pennsylvania. In doing so they exposed the public to risks that were unnecessary and extremely dangerous.

These types of situations occur frequently, although not as severe as the TMI accident the regulations are broken often by those who manage and operate Nuclear Power Plants. Clearly the financial loss and the loss of electrical power that a public utlility must accept when maintenance is required often clouds the judgement of those who are responsible for the safe operation of Nuclear facillities.

I believe that Hydrogen is the fuel of the future.

Curt Harms
12-03-2005, 11:23 AM
I believe that Hydrogen is the fuel of the future.

Keith, I agree about the hydrogen. The question in my mind is how do you produce the hydrogen? To my uninformed mind, electrolysis is pretty environmentally benign. Where to get that much electricity?

Curt

Dennis Peacock
12-03-2005, 12:10 PM
I spent the better part of day trying to launch one of these, with Det cord, shape charges and dynamite. I never could get one to do this. The best I could get, was getting it to spin like a top and dance around some. I was very disappointed.
I guess it's one of those things that you just can't force to happen, it just happens. Still it would have been cool
Oh yeah.. Don't try it at home. The military is much more set up for this type of field test.
;) :eek: :eek: :D

Well Mike,

Sounds like you and I have the same type "military" experiences.:eek: My favorite "toy" was Det cord. Of course it's even more "cool" when you get to set off a small firecracker like an old retired 6,000 pound GP bomb. WHEW-WEE!!!! What fun THAT was!!!:eek: :D :D

Anyway, We have nuclear power here in Arkansas (imagine that?) and I believe that there are better ways to produce electricity for the general public that is safer and less toxic waste. But what do I know. I'm just another Joe-Schmo in the crowd.

Lee DeRaud
12-03-2005, 3:36 PM
Keith, I agree about the hydrogen. The question in my mind is how do you produce the hydrogen? To my uninformed mind, electrolysis is pretty environmentally benign. Where to get that much electricity?BINGO!! The key thing to remember (and it needs to get repeated pretty much every time the word "hydrogen" is used) is:

Hydrogen is not, repeat NOT, an energy source. At best, it has potential as portable energy storage, but it requires more energy to produce hydrogen than hydrogen subsequently releases.

Mike Cutler
12-03-2005, 9:14 PM
Well Mike,


Anyway, We have nuclear power here in Arkansas (imagine that?) and I believe that there are better ways to produce electricity for the general public that is safer and less toxic waste. But what do I know. I'm just another Joe-Schmo in the crowd.

Why is it that you and Terry insist upon playing that "Aw Shucks , I'm a just a good ol' boy" role. When we clearly know that you are just funnin' us;)
As for just being some "Joe Schmo" I don't think so by a long shot. Whats that saying "That dog, don't hunt"?
You are correct Dennnis. Nuclear power has some significant downsides that need to be addressed at the state and federal levels. It takes people with dissenting opinions also, to invoke progress and effect change.
Never let go of your opinions or ideals.
Hydrogen will play a significant role in our future energy strategy. We just have to minimize the self interest groups influence and let this technology evolve

Keith Outten
12-04-2005, 6:21 AM
The Japanese have an R&D hydrogen house that has been operating for some time. They use solar panels for the source of energy to produce hydrogen. The system will also produce enough fuel for the family cars as well.

We need to stop thinking about hydrogen plants and hydrogen fuel stations and think about a hydrogen generator the size of a heat pump unit that can be installed in the back yard. If we are to be able to compete in a global marketplace we need an advantage and free energy at home and at work would give us a major edge. In addition to the financial issue we must do everything we can to protect and clean up our planet.

The government wants us to purchase fuel, they want the taxes.
Big oil companies want us to purchase fuel, they want our money.
Many of the reasons we don't use solar power today is due to the above statements. The patents on solar panel technology should be in the public domain and we should be demanding changes concerning energy related patents.

.

Mike Cutler
12-04-2005, 9:16 AM
It's interesting that you bring up the Solar Power technology Keith.

I've been doing a lot of reading into that topic lately. I can tell you that it has really evolved in the last 10 years. And it's beginning to look pretty attractive. The cost/return equation is a little steep, but if you are going to stay in your house for 10 years It may become cost effective. Even with winters.
I have a 5500 sq.ft garage roof that I have been looking at to convert to an active solar collector, via a system of panels. The newest panels are not those hideously ugly looking "Billboard" type any longer
Apparently by some stroke of luck, the roof is positioned along an axis to give me a >98% efficiency from the panels.
The most effecient way to utilize it would be to convert as many houseloads as possible to DC, and use an inverter for the rest. I'm not sure I would totally go that route.
In thumbing thru an RV catalog I realized that there is a entire range of produts and appliances that are designed to operate off DC that I never knew about.
There is alot out there that we don't know is available to us.

I find it ironic. That in the year 2005, in the most technology advanced country in history, that burning wood to heat my home is still the best option.

Keith Outten
12-04-2005, 12:24 PM
Mike,

I believe the Japanese hydrogen house is total electric. The solar panels are used to power a hydrogen generator, the hydrogen gas is used to power an AC electrical generator and there is enough hydrogen to power automobiles as well.

We have heat pumps for both the house and my workshop but we do have a wood stove in the house we use for extremly cold weather and power outages.

If enough of the world population would demand it there isn't any reason we wouldn't be able to purchase kits to retrofit our homes and businesses with solar panels and hydrogen generators.

One can dream of free energy and a life without the monthly bills.

Lee DeRaud
12-04-2005, 2:35 PM
I have a 5500 sq.ft garage roof that I have been looking at to convert to an active solar collector, via a system of panels. Must be nice: 5500sqft is about the size of the lot my house is built on.

Any figures on watts/sqft for those panels?

Mike Cutler
12-04-2005, 3:31 PM
Must be nice: 5500sqft is about the size of the lot my house is built on.

Any figures on watts/sqft for those panels?

Jeez... If I could type anywhere near my math abilities, I wouldn't embarass myself in public so much!:o :o

50 ftx30ft, carry a couple of knot knots( Jethro Bodine math) and we arrive at 1500 sq/ft.

I'm a little gunshy on the watts thing right about now. I'll probably end up generating gigawatts by the time I get done messing it up with the typing.:rolleyes:

How embarrassing.

Lee DeRaud
12-04-2005, 4:30 PM
Jeez... If I could type anywhere near my math abilities, I wouldn't embarass myself in public so much!:o :o

50 ftx30ft, carry a couple of knot knots( Jethro Bodine math) and we arrive at 1500 sq/ft.That's still a lot of garage: mine's maybe 1/3 of that. Guess you're not hurting for shop space!

I'm wondering how many watts that Japanese house makes do with.