Thorium

Thorium

“Thorium-based nuclear power generation is fueled primarily by the nuclear fission of the isotope uranium-233 produced from the fertile element thorium. A thorium fuel cycle can offer several potential advantages over a uranium fuel including the much greater abundance of thorium found on Earth, superior physical and nuclear fuel properties, and reduced nuclear waste production. One advantage of thorium fuel is its low weaponization potential. It is difficult to weaponize the uranium-233 that is bred in the reactor. Plutonium-239 is produced at much lower levels and can be consumed in thorium reactors.

After studying the feasibility of using thorium, nuclear scientists Ralph W. Moir and Edward Teller suggested that thorium nuclear research should be restarted after a three-decade shutdown and that a small prototype plant should be built. Between 1999 and 2022, the number of operational thorium reactors in the world has risen from zero to a handful of research reactors, to commercial plans for producing full-scale thorium-based reactors for use as power plants on a national scale.

Advocates believe thorium is key to developing a new generation of cleaner, safer nuclear power. In 2011, a group of scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology assessed thorium-based power as “a 1000+ year solution or a quality low-carbon bridge to truly sustainable energy sources solving a huge portion of mankind’s negative environmental impact.” However, the development of thorium power has significant start-up costs. Development of breeder reactors in general (including thorium reactors, which are breeders by nature) will increase proliferation concerns.”

Considering that there have been thousands of times more deaths from coal mining than from nuclear plants why are we not spending more resources on developing nuclear energy sources. Over  70% of France’s energy is supplied by nuclear plants.

Operation Paperclip Revisited   Sputnik 1957, NASA 1958

Operation Paperclip Revisited   Sputnik 1957, NASA 1958

From Wikipedia

“Operation Paperclip was a secret United States intelligence program in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians were taken from former Nazi Germany to the U.S. for government employment after the end of World War II in Europe, between 1945 and 1959. Conducted by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA), it was largely carried out by special agents of the U.S. Army‘s Counterintelligence Corps (CIC). Many of these Germans were former members and some were former leaders of the Nazi Party.

As a young man, von Braun worked in Nazi Germany’s rocket development program. He helped design and co-developed the V-2 rocket at Peenemünde during World War II. The V-2 became the first artificial object to travel into space on 20 June 1944. Following the war, he was secretly moved to the United States, along with about 1,600 other German scientists, engineers, and technicians, as part of Operation Paperclip. He worked for the United States Army on an intermediate-range ballistic missile program and developed the rockets that launched the United States’ first space satellite Explorer 1 in 1958. He worked with Walt Disney on a series of films that popularized human space travel in the U.S. and beyond from 1955 to 1957.

But the engineer who made the first human spaceflight possible was nowhere to be seen. Only when he died in 1966 was the name of the Chief Designer, Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, revealed to the world. This genius at the heart of the Russian space program was one of the Soviet Union’s most closely guarded secrets.

In 1960, his group was assimilated into NASA, where he served as director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center and as the chief architect of the Saturn V super heavy-lift launch vehicle that propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon. In 1967, von Braun was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering, and in 1975, he received the National Medal of Science.”

So we had a German genius and 1,600 of the best German scientists and engineers and we gave them a pass on their participation in the Nazi Party. The Russians got the next best group so how did they get so far ahead of us in the space race? Does anyone know? Anyone?

Save Trillions of Dollars

The World Stands to Save Trillions of Dollars if We Just Quit Carbon Right

I found this article very interesting

ENVIRONMENT14 September 2022

By CARLY CASSELLA

Motivation to act on climate change often comes in one of two forms; the metaphorical threat of a stick or the lure of a carrot. For years now, scientists have been trying to whip our slow-moving ass into shape (to keep with the metaphor, of course).

But as we collectively drag our feet, the juicy carrot that economists are waving in front of our noses is shrinking. If we want to get our hands on it, we have to step it up.

A new study from Oxford University has shown the quicker the world transitions to clean energy, the bigger the financial bite.

If we can transition to a world of zero fossil fuels by 2050, the findings suggest the world could save up to US$15 trillion. If instead, we take it slow, eliminating fossil fuels only by 2070, there’s a greater chance the savings won’t be anywhere near as lucrative.

“There is a pervasive misconception that switching to clean, green energy will be painful, costly, and mean sacrifices for us all – but that’s just wrong,” says economist Doyne Farmer.

“Renewable costs have been trending down for decades. They are already cheaper than fossil fuels in many situations and, our research shows, they will become cheaper than fossil fuels across almost all applications in the years to come. And, if we accelerate the transition, they will become cheaper faster.”

The model used in the current research forecasts the costs of deploying four types of green technology: solar energy, wind energy, batteries, and electrolyzers.

In the past, analysts have overestimated the costs of these green technologies, the authors argue. For instance, the real cost of solar energy dropped twice as fast as the most ambitious projections. The historic pessimism around renewable energy, they say, is at odds with past technological improvements, and this has locked “humanity into an expensive and dangerous energy future.”

Projections are never perfect, but the models used by researchers at Oxford were statistically validated by tracing back the history of 50 different technologies.

The most successful of these technologies tend to follow an ‘S-curve’ for deployment. After technology takes off, there is a long phase of exponential production growth, reducing costs. As the market becomes saturated, that growth gradually tapers off.

If clean energy takes this same path, the savings could flow once we get over the initial hill.

The new models explore three possible scenarios for that ascent, from 2021 to 2070.

The most rapid scenario, where green energy replaces up to 4 percent of fossil fuels every year, would make the ‘S’ shape of green energy deployment a tight curve, whereas a slower transition would drag out the deployment phase for longer than necessary.

In the ‘no transition’ scenario, fossil fuels would continue to dominate for most of the century.

“The primary policy implication of our results is that there are enormous advantages to rapid deployment of key green technologies,” the authors write.

“Achieving this is likely to require strong international policies for building infrastructure, skills training, and making the investments required to realize future gains.”

Initially, this transition will probably involve some discounts and green energy policies by governments. But luckily, these upfront costs will quickly be offset.

When future energy pathways are viewed in terms of bets placed on portfolios of technologies, the authors say the ‘fast transition’ scenario is expected to pay off around $5 to $15 trillion.

According to the authors, when economic damages due to climate change are taken into account the benefits become overwhelming. The fast transition scenario could reap savings of up to $255 trillion or even $755 trillion by 2070, depending on certain economic parameters.

Another big factor involves the increasing scarcity in fossil fuels, inflating costs based on their use.

Wind energy and solar energy, on the other hand, are growing cheaper by the day. In fact, in dozens of nations, solar power is currently the cheapest energy on offer.

Even better, we can’t run these resources dry, which means the cost of green technologies is only predicted to fall over time. Right now, they are doing so at a rate of nearly 10 percent per year.

“The combination of exponentially decreasing costs and rapid exponentially increasing deployment is different from anything observed in any other energy technologies in the past, and positions these key green technologies to challenge the dominance of fossil fuels within a decade,” the authors write.

The models suggest that market forces are very much on the side of renewable energy, even if climate change wasn’t the threat we now know it to be.

If agriculture and land-use change can also be brought under control, researchers think there’s a chance we could meet the 1.5° Paris Agreement target, a goal that has become increasingly unlikely.

“In response to our opening question, ‘Is there a path forward that can get us to net-zero emissions cheaply and quickly?,’ our answer is: ‘Very likely, and the savings are probably quite large,'” the authors conclude