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royal society release on biofuels

A 90-page .pdf (about 50 pages of screen text!)

A lot of basic information for anyone trying to come to grips with the arguments for motor fuels and biofuel substitutes, but it is solid reading.

This does not cover dissolution of water into hydrogen and oxygen by electricity and heat, and thence recombination options.

Biofuel yields in terms of volume and energy per hectare for selected ethanol and biodiesel feedstock Credit:Royal Society
Biofuel yields in terms of volume and energy per hectare for
selected ethanol and biodiesel feedstock
Credit: Royal Society
This chart is for various feedstocks, showing the basic gross output; that is without energy costs for production.
A litre of ethanol provides about sixty-five percent the energy of a litre of petrol/gasoline.
A litre of biodiesel provides about eighty-five percent the energy of a litre of regular diesel.


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at last, uk being prepared for a serious nuclear future

“Various contributors are fully in support of the nuclear fuel options, the most immediately relevant for the UK would involve combining the plutonium with uranium to create a mixed oxide or "MOx" fuel. MOx pellets are likely to be compatible not only with the proposed nuclear power stations currently being debated by politicians, but also with future power stations still on the scientific drawing board, referred to as "Generation 4" reactors." [Quoted from]

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“A plan by the nuclear industry to build a £1bn fuel processing plant at Sellafield is being backed by the government's chief scientist. The plant would turn the UK's 60,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste into reactor fuel that will provide 60 per cent of this country's electricity until 2060, it is claimed.

“ 'We can bury our reactor waste or we can treat it and then use it as free fuel for life,' said the cabinet's chief science adviser, Sir David King. 'It's a no-brainer.' ” [Quoted from]

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another nuclear protestor does her research and converts

“[...] Gwyneth Cravens, a novelist, journalist and former nuke protester. Her new book, Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy, is a passionate plea to understand, instead of fear, atomic power.

“Her conclusion? Every day spent burning coal for power translates into damaged lungs and ecosystem destruction. If the world wants to keep plugging in big-screen TVs and iPods, it needs a steady source of power. Wind and solar can't produce the "base-load" (or everyday) steady supply needed, and the only realistic -- and safe -- alternative is nuclear.”

  • “A family in four in France, where they reprocess nuclear fuel, would produce only enough waste to fit in a coffee cup over a whole lifetime. A lifetime of getting all your electricity from coal-fired plants would make a single person's share of solid waste (in the United States) 68 tons, which would require six 12-ton railroad cars to haul away. Your share of CO2 would be 77 tons.”

  • “The nuclear navy has operated more than 250 reactors since the 1950s, and they have never had an incident involving a release from a reactor. This is because (naval nuclear chief Adm. Hyman) Rickover ensured that every individual was considered accountable.

    “When Three Mile Island happened, and there was a commission held to investigate why it happened, Rickover basically said you need to do things the way we do in the nuclear navy. The nuclear utilities and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission took that advice to heart.

    “If you just leave a reactor alone, it will shut itself down. If a reactor doesn't have enough water, it will shut itself down. Humans probably do make mistakes, but they have tried to make these reactors as human-proof as possible, and I think everyone has learned from Three Mile Island.”

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interesting summary of generation of nuclear power - ‘split an atom, save a tree’

“[...] The average cost of producing nuclear energy in the United States is less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, comparable to coal and hydroelectric.”

And, of course, without the externalised filth of coal.

5 pages and diagrams:
page 2 page 3
page 4

“Our whole approach is that you don't construct a reactor, you assemble it," Kadak says. "Think about LEGOs: You just clip them together." This could shorten construction time to as little as two years; if a part breaks, the module containing it could be replaced quickly. Kadak envisions small 250-megawatt reactors, with additional units added to meet demand, making the initial cost lower than that of current 1000-megawatt giants.

“Starting next year, both China and South Africa intend to build full-scale prototype pebble beds based on a design developed in Germany in the 1960s. However, the concept being considered in Idaho will produce hotter gas. "The Chinese and South African reactors will be close to 1550 F," says Weaver, who is coordinating the pebble-bed program in Idaho, "and we want 1650 to 1830 F. Those 100 degrees can make a huge difference." The extra heat will run the electricity-generating turbines more efficiently, and--crucially--meet the threshold for efficiently generating hydrogen from water.

“Hydrogen is currently produced from natural gas by a process called steam reformation, which releases 74 million tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. As a cleaner alternative, researchers are trying to figure out the best way to split the H from H2O. A team at Idaho National Lab recently showed that electrolysis--using electricity to split the water molecule--is nearly twice as efficient at the high temperatures made possible by a pebble-bed reactor.”

page 5

“Nuclear weapons are no longer inextricably linked to power plants. Centrifuge technology now allows nations to produce weapons-grade plutonium without a reactor. Iran's nuclear weapons threat, for instance, is distinct from peaceful nuclear energy.

“Nuclear reactors offer a practical path to the hydrogen economy. Excess heat from the plants, instead of fossil fuels, can be used for electrolysis. It also can address the increasing shortage of fresh water through desalinization.

“Together with a combination of solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric sources, nuclear energy can play a key role in producing safe, clean, reliable baseload electricity.”

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