Energy Reality FB Group (March 2015) Discussion

   Rick Maltese  March 1, 2015

There was a debate recently on a thorium linkedIn group that the author felt there should not be inaccurate science statements made by pronuclear supporters to win people over to the pronuclear side.

The author wanted to point out how the number of deaths caused from coal plants is often exaggerated. The author also suggested the UN’s numbers were way too inflated.

This had a ring to it that reminded me of those who feel that climate change is high among the reasons to promote the use of nuclear power. Here is where the difficulty begins. Do we advocate the use of nuclear energy by telling people it will fix global warming or should that be low on our long list of reasons?

So a couple of the touchy issues that keeps surfacing

1) Are molten salt reactors proliferation safe. Most MSR and LFTR advocates say they are. More proliferation safe than LWRs and other 4th Gen reactors. The degree of safety varies and a proper position to take on this IMHO is that like Climate Change the topic should be avoided because it is not very different that discussing which type of commercial jet is more likely to crash.

2) Challenging pronuclear advocates publicly about whether nuclear can solve global warming is also a bad idea. It should be avoided as a topic altogether in public spaces.

3) That MSRs or SMRs are the only new types of reactors worth supporting. This is also a counter-productive topic. All reactors being built now are at least Gen III and they are still very much worth supporting. The renewal of Gen II reactors is also worth supporting. The record speaks for itself.

Jumping on the environmental bandwagon may not be the best choice for the nuclear industry. The…
Scott Medwid

Scott Medwid Ocean acidification is ties to coal, oil, gas and bio fuel combustion. Ice is melting at alarming rates at the North and South poles and mountain glaciers and snow pack are in decline in to many locations. The bottom line argument for keeping and extending the existing Gen 2 fleet is that they produce fossil fuel free electricity and they have been paid for (for the most part right?). Gen 3+ reactors are approved and are being deployed. New designs must couple electrical generation with desalinization of sea water into a agriculturally suitable byproduct of the new reactors. Generation 4 reactors will be supported if they can provide fossil fuel free electricity and process heat for clean water.

Virgil Fenn

Virgil Fenn I’m with you almost all the way there, Rick. My quibble is with #2.
People that are already convinced that climate change and increasing CO2 levels are good prospects in that we have the best solution for the problem they want to fix. Plus, they alrea
dy have a sense of urgency. The fear of radiation is the last hurdle to overcome.
For climate change deniers, we should not bother to engage with them on that issue. Other people are already working to convince them and our time is better spent on the fear of all radiation mythology and the attending regulatory nightmare.
Actually, after re-reading your #2, i may have misunderstood.
Either way, i promise to do better. No more drinking and posting for me.

Andrew M Dodson

Andrew M Dodson Climate change is just that, AN Argument! Let’s not base our policy on arguments, but established consensus. Fossil fuels are polluting and we must transition. There’s plenty of evidence, but I would hope that it goes without saying!

Jason Correia

Jason Correia Every other no-emission to low emission (natural gas) energy source is touting itself as a climate change mitigation measure. Every other high emission source (oil, coal) is pretending that climate change doesn’t exist and is actively trying to thwart any measures to curb or tax their emissions.

Which camp does nuclear want to ally itself with?

Jason Correia

Jason Correia I skimmed through that article, Rick, and I’m quite frustrated that this author sees things with a very different lens than I do.

I see this in very simple marketing 101 terms. You want to sell a product then you need to find or create the demand. Ele
ctricity (the end product) is already in demand. Emission free energy has a demand for cleaner air, climate change mitigation, and emission standards. Lastly, you need to meet the demand for the image conscience, in other words people need to feel good about buying your product because your brand has prestige, quality, cool factor – they understand what your product is and *want* it. Apple has mastered this last type of demand of course.

Nuclear can meet the first 2 demands at a reasonable cost if given the chance but needs to lobby to make it more cost efficient. But let’s not kid ourselves, as far as image conscience demand goes – nuclear sucks. And what’s even worse, is guys like Steve Kidd just don’t understand how important this is.

Change the phrase from “climate change” to “conscience change” instead and everything makes a lot more sense relevant to nuclear, no matter what your opinion is about CC science.

I give the Thorium community huge kudos for creating buzz and excitement about their ‘new’ nuclear technology. Suddenly everyone is interested and excited about thorium. Nuclear’s challenge is now to transfer that same enthusiasm to conventional nuclear and get some environmental groups to have a change of heart so in turn, we get more decision makers on nuclear’s side.

I’ll go out on a little limb here and say there is NO RISK to promoting nuclear as a climate change mitigation.

The author states ” There is a significant risk in nuclear hitching itself to this type of view, as it may eventually be found to be unproven and in that case the nuclear industry, along with the renewables sector, will be discredited.”

First, that’s a load of bullcrap. If new nuclear plants get built no one is going to say “oh geez, the Earth isn’t as warm as we thought it was going to be, what a horrible mistake is was to built all these nuclear reactors that supply electricity at the cheapest price possible.” Just the rising population and increased demand for energy alone will keep all potential regrets at bay. No one is going to feel like they were ‘sold a bill of goods’ on account of nuclear touting itself as a climate change mitigation measure.

By the way, notice I use the word ‘mitigation’ instead of solution. As far as we know, there is no ‘solution’, there are only attempts to stave off what might be the inevitable.

It’s only the expensive renewables that will only be at most risk because they carry shorter lifespans and require the most intensive cost maintenance. An AP1000 could easily last 100 years.

Nuclear needs to recreate its brand image and the rest can fall into place. If the nuclear industry and it’s proponents want to be stupid, ignore this at your peril. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter if the climate science is right or wrong, what matters is how nuclear makes the best of itself within this perceived crisis.

Gijs Zwartsenberg

Gijs Zwartsenberg Rick, your post raises some essential issues that I face probably every time I’m working on my website.
I think each deserves separate discussion, and there’s also a couple of other touchy issues that need to be discussed.
However, in my view it is es
sential to come to what is called ‘a narrative’ – and that is something that is almost impossible to create by just going through the arguments.
So please keep in mind, the following reactions ‘only’ concern the arguments here, arguments that may or may not become part of a narrative – the narrative itself is not yet in sight.
#1: As there’s a multitude of configurations to choose from, it’s better to say that MSR’s CAN be made proliferation safe.
#2: I agree with Virgil Fenn here. Leave the climate debate to the climate debaters. On my website I try to avoid the subject.
Not because I’m a climate sceptic, but I think the issue just adds to the confusion.
There are many, many more arguments to ban ‘fossil’ and especially coal – such as mercury pollution of soil and ocean.
#3: From a physics standpoint, I think it’s safe to say that present day reactors, and especially the new ones are worth supporting.
However, that message is much more difficult to convey to the not-yet-converted than it is to seek support for MSR’s.
MSR’s have a chance to break out of the ‘anti-nuke’ paradigm.
Once you get them interested in MSR’s, people may finally start looking at their previously held beliefs about ‘nuclear’.
That will probably feel ‘unjust’ to those working in the present nuclear field, but it may also be a sound case of ‘realpolitik’.

Martin Kral

Martin Kral There is no other energy as clean, safe , dense, reliable, plentiful, etc. as nuclear power. I stay focused on the additional benefits it has for humanity over and above fossil and renewable. There is no need to discount any energy platform. Have any of you had a CT scan lately? Add the by-products of nuclear and fossil and the discussion is a no brainer for me. What are the by-products of renewable?

Martin Kral

Martin Kral Oh wait, I forgot! Thorium is the by-product of renewable manufacturing material mining.

Ruth Sponsler

Ruth Sponsler Why would climate change be such a bad argument for nuclear if the renewable sources that generate much less energy are claiming to be the ones to solve the problem?

To me, this is like hiding one of NE’s truly best assets.

Instead, I think it’s time to discuss issues like “nuclear equality,” which is getting governmental and societal entities to treat a kilowatt of nuclear electricity the same as a kW of wind or solar for carbon-free portfolio standards.

Martin Kral

Martin Kral Nuclear is based on Physics and Chemistry. Hard to dispute that science. The source of a kilowatt are not equal and never will be.

Gijs Zwartsenberg

Gijs Zwartsenberg Ruth Sponsler, I don’t think climate change is a bad argument for nuclear, the point is that the climate change debate is highly politicized. To link MSR’s to that debate may hurt their case. I think the specs of MSR’s are so convincing that MSR’s can make friends even without the climate argument.

Ruth Sponsler

Ruth Sponsler Martin Kral – I realize that the science behind NE is better. Yet it is being treated as a sub-equal among emissions-free energy sources.

All I’m saying is that the politicos should give it the respect it deserves….

Ruth Sponsler

Ruth Sponsler I like Virgil Fenn’s argument here!

Gijs Zwartsenberg

Gijs Zwartsenberg I agree, Virgil is pretty sharp, even after having a drink or two wink emoticon Leaves the search for a narrative open though – see my first response to Rick Maltese

Martin Kral

Martin Kral I agree about the fear of radiation and that is why I am focused on nuclear medicine.
From my next article:
“Production of medical radioisotopes has become the most important sector of the nuclear industry, accounting for more than 50% of annual radi
oisotopes production worldwide. Today more than 160 radioisotopes of 80 chemical elements are produced for use in diagnosis and therapy of cancer, as well as cardiology, hematology, urology, nephrology, and other specialties. The global radioisotope market was valued at $4.8 billion in 2012, with medical radioisotopes accounting for about 80% of this, and is poised to reach about $8 billion by 2017. To preserve the lives of many people, we actually need advance nuclear reactors in more markets because of the short life cycle of the medical radioisotopes and of course, the need for electricity and clean water.”

Virgil Fenn

Virgil Fenn Jason, we”re the ones with the solution that actually works. We should recruit from both (all) sides.

Alex Cannara

Alex Cannara Rick, I thought this was a “reality” discussion group — no?

Are you actually saying that coal deaths in mines are false? Are you actually saying coal emissions illnesses in the 10s of thousands in US alone are false? Are you saying that China’s adm
itting to losing hundreds of thousands of lives and >3% of GDP on health problems caused by coal emissions, etc. are false? Are you suggesting that ocean acidification and isotopic measurements of C emissions don’t trace back to coal?

What, on earth are you trying to do here, simply because a guy or two, who deny global warming (and don’t bother to study science) ,were upset by critiques of coal use?

Alex Cannara

Alex Cannara On your Qs 2 & 3, why isn’t it clear that nuclear power would have eliminated the bulk of climate/ocean issues by about 2000. if subsequent administrations/congresses hadn’t fumbled JFK’s start?
It should not be “avoided” at
all. Avoiding it plays into the hands of the folks unknowing or hiding from, the causes of our environmental problems — the ones we’re wasting time vacillating on and leaving to our descendants.

And, of course all regulated nuclear power is desired ASAP. Why is that even a question? Why is proliferation re Thorium a question?

The humungous length of the blog exchange you mention is evidence enough of the absurdity of the deniers’ positions — their only tactic is to repeatedly avoid facts and repeat the same fluff over & over to buy time and waste others’. This group should be able to handle that quickly. If it can’t, then the name of the group needs changing.

Rick Maltese

Rick Maltese I was just presenting the discussion not drawing conclusions.

Jason Correia

Jason Correia I agree with Alex.

Avoiding the climate change issue is exactly what the fossil companies are trying to do and nuclear is and should be different.

The green movement has already mis-categorized nuclear in their acronym “CONG” (coal, oil, nuclear, gas). Nuclear is in a class all by itself. Another marketing 101 lesson is to promote all of your differentiators to your clients so they will understand why your product is better than others.

There are 3 types of businesses: New, Better, or Different. New is the rarest form, and nuclear certainly still retains some of the New factor. To be all 3 is very rare and nuclear is all 3. If nuclear industry/community doesn’t understand and appreciate itself for just how awesomely new, better, and different it is, then it’s selling itself short.

Eric Hanson

Eric Hanson A few points.
A) Since no one has ever made an atomic bomb from spent fuel from a power reactor, I don’t see the proliferation issue as being that compelling.
See More

Robert Steinhaus

Robert Steinhaus As nuclear advocates, we should make available the best and most accurate information we have regarding proliferation vulnerabilities so as to place in the hands of decision makers and the public the information they need to ensure planet-wide nuclear safety. If we fail to do this, and actively suppress the best information we have so as to further our nuclear agenda, we deserve criticism.
Thorium MSR Protactinium separation proliferation vulnerability

The versatility of the Thorium Fuel Cycle implemented in MSRs and advantages of Thorium chemistry over Plutonium PUREX chemistry makes new Gen-IV Thorium MSRs less proliferation safe than existing Gen-III LWRs.

Thorium fuel has risks. Stephen F. Ashley, Geoffrey T. Parks, William J. Nuttall, Colin Boxall &Robin W. Grimes…/Ashley_Thorium_has_risks.pdf

Jason Correia

Jason Correia Eric– The point is not to convince the Amory Lovins types out of their philosophical bent, the point is to not be excluded from the emission target formulas that regulators are designing.

If your product’s relevancy is regulated away from the marketplace, it doesn’t matter who you convince.
See More

Alex Cannara

Alex Cannara Jason is exactly right. I and another PhD confronted Lovins after his very polished slideware talk at NCSE in DC. He has no idea of reality, even when it was pointed out that his mashing up of gobs of wind/solar leaves what he said was 4% of unpredictable, unmet demand. He didn’t seem to get that professional utility power is delivered at 0.9999 or better reliability.

But that’s to be expected, since he never got an engineering or physics degree and dropped out of Oxford at least, while pretending to be an “Oxford Don” on his resumes. (a don there is a tutor). What he is doing, 4/7, is promoting contract sales for his rocky Mountain Institute.

Our descendants’ needs won’t be served by such, just as they won’t be served by climate deniers who may or may not advertize support for nuclear power, yet avoid science themselves. The future of those coming after us depends on respect for reality and science, not business opportunity.

Alex Cannara

Alex Cannara Now to Robert’s: “Gen-IV Thorium MSRs less proliferation safe than existing Gen-III LWRs.”

You should know that’s false, Robert. If not, explain why you don’t and thus mislead others here.

I’ll repeat the clues you’ve already been given: a) the IAEA defines “self-protective” U233 as containing ~2.4% U232; b) U233 bombs are exceedingly expensive to try to build as our own failures to do so document; c) if your beloved fusion (for which I was blessed with 2 degrees) ever comes, it provides an efficient, direct method for making U233 “self protective” (did you miss Ralph Moir’s talk last TEAC?); and d) the addition of a few kg of U232 precursors, like Pa231 or Th230, makes plenty of U232 with <2% extra reactivity (fissile) demand.

Of course, more practically, a Pa233 or U233 thief would have to find a way to drain many kg of 700+C salt from a LFTR, with a 1:30 proportion of those targets in the salt, to get a critical mass in the end. You or someone must do so without dying and causing a noticeable power drop to reactor operators, radiation alarming, etc., etc. Perhaps you’d like to volunteer on the 1st operational one, Robert — if successful you could shout “I told you fusion was safer”!
Yes, we have a hard task, with anti-nukes all around, climate deniers offering dubious nuke support, and eternally repetitive claims about U233 bombs from fusion boosters.

I suggest all of us remember this group’s name, especially its middle word.

Rick Maltese

Rick Maltese I’ve asked for a new thread above on this topic of proliferation

Alex Cannara

Alex Cannara And to Eric: “Since no one has ever made an atomic bomb from spent fuel from a power reactor, I don’t see the proliferation issue as being that compelling.” — Chernobyl’s RBMK reactors were designed to do both. It all depends on designing a reactor to allow arbitrary removal/insertion of U238 for breeding in the right amount of time to Pu239.

Alex Cannara

Alex Cannara To your generalization about environmentalists and “low power”, “poverty”… that’s blather from the combustion industry — you know, the same folks that succeeded in supporting anti-nuke ‘environmentalists’ for decades because they knew nukes would put emitting power out of business, much as Seaborg predicted coal interests would react on the 2nd page of his letter to JFK:

Alex Cannara

Alex Cannara It’s remarkable fortunate that Kirk Sorenson’s rescue of ORNL docs uncovered that report. And less than 20 years after, our combustion folks were happily supporting naive enviro groups with lies about nuclear (pic).

Alex Cannara's photo.
Alex Cannara

Alex Cannara Which spread even more successfully to Australia (pic). So again, anyone claiming support of nuclear now and denial of the realities of 1.8 trillion tons of CO2 emissions on land/sea/air warming, plus acidification and imminent extinctions in oceans, is not one to rely on to give trusted scientific/environmental advocacy to nuclear power today. I’m just sayin’, we need no Lovins conjugates. We’re into reality, eh?

Alex Cannara's photo.
Mark Pawelek

Mark Pawelek W.r.t. the number of deaths caused by coal-fired energy. Just quote the WHO and medical journals for air pollution fatalities. Their estimate is 7m p.a. with most of those due to pollution from renewables – mainly wood and dung burnt in the home for cooking and warmth. The RE boosters hated it when I reiterated WHO’s figures for fatalities due to RE air pollution.

Mark Pawelek

Mark Pawelek You’ve phrased point 3 as a binary Yes/No. How about “I prefer to see intrinsically safe advanced reactors such as MSRs – I’ll still support Gen III+ PWRs and BWRs”

Alex Cannara

Alex Cannara Eric, this provides some explanation…

Eric Hanson

Eric Hanson Nevertheless, the Kidd article that started this thread makes some good points. Many of these people will never give any more than half hearted support for nuclear, regardless of their feeling on CO2.

Gijs Zwartsenberg

Gijs Zwartsenberg Eric Hanson, thanks for posting article. I did read it and I totally agree with the author on his central topic:
pro-nuclear needs a narrative. Pro-nuclear needs to change from bein a position to being a movement.
And I think there is the potential for this movement to start happening.

Virgil Fenn

Virgil Fenn Rod Adams replied to the decarbonizesa dot com piece Eric Hanson posted above. It makes me reconsider my blame it on the fear of radiation”. I quote it verbatim here.
” Rod AdamsJuly 8, 2011 at 5:10 pm
Your analysis leaves open an important question wh
ose answer offers the key to pronuclear success – “Why?”
The mission of the antinuclear movement is clear enough, as you stated. It is a simple “NO”. However, pronuclear activists hand that opposition all of the moral strength that they need by accepting the premise that the basis for the “NO” is fear of radiation or fear of the bomb or fear of the possibility of a massively damaging accident that never seems to actually happen.
The real strength of the opposition to nuclear comes from the people who derive their wealth and power from the whole range of economic activities required to extract, refine, transport, distribute and consume the hydrocarbons that produce the emissions that you want to stop. Fossil fuel pushers have a fundamental reason for disliking clean, concentrated, abundant, affordable nuclear energy. They hold sway in a LOT of decision making bodies that can delay nuclear projects and add to their cost. They have influence in the media due to their continuous use of paid advertising campaigns sustained over many decades. They have influence in foundations that have been formed from fossil fuel derived wealth and they have influence in powerful unions like those associated with the railroads that derive most of their steady income from moving bulky fuels like oil and coal.
Your message of DecarboniseSA scares the heck out of the very rich and powerful people who are rich and powerful because THEY SELL CARBON!
The real way to defeat the “NO” to nuclear energy is to find people who benefit from “YES” to nuclear energy. The fuel suppliers have concentrated strength, but the majority of the world’s population does not supply fuel; they consume fuel and have to pay high prices, accept nasty pollution, and suffer through periods of supply constraints. Some of those consumers are major corporations in their own right and have a lot of sway – they just need to be told (over and over again) why fission is so much better than combustion.
Cheap fuel
No emissions
Reliable power plants
Responsive enough to power warships (so other ships are a piece of cake)
great jobs
Tremendous growth opportunities for future generations
Incredible record of public safety
Pointing out the means, motive and opportunities that the fossil fuel industry has had to kneecap nuclear technology (including many “inside jobs” at supposedly “nuclear” companies) helps to knock the antinuclear movement off of the moral high ground of being ideologically motivated.
It is a worthy battle, but never expect it to be easy.
Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights “

Eric Hanson

Eric Hanson Speaking of Rod Adams, this story from Atomic Insights is in the same vein of the Steven Kidd piece that started this thread. There is a segment of the green-left that think that CO2 emissions are inseparable from capitalism or at least they want people to belive that they are inseparable. Therefore, one must not just tackle CO2 emissions, one must dismantle capitalism. Naomi Kline is one of these people.

Nuclear energy presents these people with a huge problem. If capitalism can be separated from CO2 emissions, then there is no need to dismantle capitalism. These people view nuclear energy as a potential savior of capitalism, and that is the last thing they want. Therefore, they will always be against nuclear energy, regardless of its advantages. Some will be honest about why they oppose nuclear energy. Others will not be.

This is why much of the green-left still go on about how successful Germany’s “Energy Transition” is. It is only a success if your aim is to de-industrialize a nation, which is exactly what is happening in Germany and exactly what this portion of the green-left wants. Well paid industry jobs are leaving.

” Finally, I asked him why he thought nuclear power should be eliminated even after he told me that he agreed that nuclear power was good for the economy. His reply was simply that an additional goal of the antinuclear movement (as far as he was concerned) was in fact the reduction of economic activity, since according to him, the greatest cause of ecological damage was increased economic activity.
So in his mind, the fact that nuclear power was a boon for the economy was all the more reason to try to eliminate it. “

” He said that economic expansion was bad for people because it distracted from the true quality of life, which consists of community and social activities that are mostly threatened by improved prosperity, rather than improved by it.”…/

Alex Cannara

Alex Cannara Lot s of words and tagging, like “green-left”, whatever that is, Eric. The point made by Rod is simple — the form of capitalism we’ve allowed the fossil-fuel industry to enjoy is about as “left” as policy can be — subsidized, protected, inured from loss, forgiven for life-threatening outputs, allowed to endanger national security by facilitating wars that kill fellow citizens,and even allowed to derail legislative actions to provide better alternatives.

Using hackneyed phrasing, like there’s a “green-left that think that CO2 emissions are inseparable from capitalism” simply exposes the clay feet of fossil-fuel businesses that have for so long tried to hide from responsibility, as by paying for protesters ads at Shoreham ~30 years ago (pic reminder — 1986 solar, eh?!).

If any group has subverted capitalism, it’s been the combustion industry. And they’ll be held harmless, as the adults who care try to clean up for our descendants.

Alex Cannara's photo.
Mark Pawelek

Mark Pawelek @Eric – the green far left have some dodgy equations:

nuclear power == centralization == multinational capitalism

renewables == decentralization == local democracy

In the real world, there seems to be no basis for these beliefs. I think they “believe” this because this gives them a sense of political optimism. Even pessimists need to be optimistic about something!

Eric Hanson

Eric Hanson Dodgy indeed, not to mention stupid and dangerous.

Alex Cannara

Alex Cannara Mark, I ran into an anti-nuke last night, and indeed “distributed generation” is their mantra now. I guess a gas plant making up for a wind farm’s stillness is”distributed generation” too?

I’d ask any worried about “multinational capitalism” to write GE, who just bought Siemens’ wind stuff, and decide if windmills can no longer be their beloved? ;]

3 thoughts on “Energy Reality FB Group (March 2015) Discussion

  1. Dr A. Cannara

    Rick, this impresses me as being in a loop that simply wastes time, as much of Microsoft’s code does, ;]

    If we know we need a few thousand nuclear GWe of clean power well before 2100, why are things like proliferation, or relative coal deaths, deserving of more time?

    We’ve waited decades to address a known set of environmental problems. We now have unfolding tragedies that could have been attenuated or avoided.

    How much more time should be wasted? Yes, proliferation is wasted time, because the answers have long been known and no sovereign nation can be told what to do. Yes, coal/gas/oil deaths & disease are sizable — no quibbling about how many thousands/year necessary.

    The folks who aren’t interested in engaging the problem and moving our descendants’ lives out of clear, tragic circumstances can just go somewhere else. We don’t need or want such. They’ll be back for help when the time comes — help they won’t have contributed to. Such is the laziness & selfishness of human nature.

    Wasting time on such folks is wasting time we lack.

    1. RickD Maltese Post author

      There were a lot of eloquently stated comments. Call it wasting time for you but those comments will help open peoples eyes. You are focusing too much on the article itself. It was the comments I want people to see.

  2. Asteroid Miner

    No nuclear power plant is a proliferation risk because a power plant makes the wrong isotopes of plutonium for bombs. To make a good bomb, you need pure plutonium239 [Pu239].

    Isotopes: Any chemical element can come in several isotopes.
    To make Pu239, you have to shut down the reactor and do a fuel cycle after one month or less of operation. Since removing and replacing fuel takes a month, a short-cycled reactor operates half the time. A power plant that has a one month on, one month off fuel cycle would stick out a lot more than the proverbial sore thumb.

    A reactor used to make electricity runs for 18 months to 2 years between refuelings. An individual fuel rod will stay in the reactor for 3 cycles since only ⅓ of the fuel rods are exchanged at each fueling, so one fuel rod stays in the reactor 4.5 to 6 years. In that time, many trans-uranic elements are created. In that time, Pu239 absorbs extra neutrons, becoming Pu240, Pu241, Pu242, 95americium243, 96curium247, 97berkelium247, 98californium251, 99einsteinium25, 100fermium257 and so on.

    All of these higher actinides are good reactor fuel but bad for bomb making. Bombs made of spent fuel have been made and tested once or twice [US and North Korea]. They pre-detonate and fizzle so badly that a very large conventional bomb can equal the yield. They are so radioactive that a poor country can’t build one without killing the scientists. They are militarily worse than useless [Till & Chang book “Plentiful Energy”]. There is no country that has a spent fuel bomb, nor will anybody build one in the future. An insane person trying to build one would die a few seconds to minutes after having acquired the spent fuel.


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