21 March 2011

Help! I need Somebody, Help!

The Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change

Mr Tim Yeo MP (Chair)                                            
Dan Byles MP
Barry Gardiner MP
Ian Lavery MP
Dr Philip Lee MP
Albert Owen MP
Christopher Pincher MP                                         
John Robertson MP
Laura Sandys MP
Sir Robert Smith MP
Dr Alan Whitehead MP


We picked the side and Manager Chris Huhne and they hold the future of the UK's Nuclear Industry in their hands and control the spend of  £billions of hard-earned taxpayers' money. 

They could spend the piddling £300 million, to get the first-of-a-kind LFTR up and running in 5 years and subsidies UK manufacturing, to get the first-off production lines units available in 10 years. Then we substitute emission-free, load-following LFTRs for our coal burning and natural gas power stations - Voila! in 15 years we could be on a fast-track to meeting our carbon targets at a massively lower cost than any other method.


They could literally pour OUR money down the drain in subsidies for CC&S and Wind and Solar Renewables. Surely, in everybody's heart-of-hearts, they must know that believing these technologies can provide 100% of our future energy needs, 100% of the time, is just wishful thinking. And, at what price ecological destruction and greenhouse gas emissions?

Taxpaying voters, I need you - email every one of these Select Committee Members  ( http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/ ) to demand they invite Kirk Sorensen over to present the LFTR case to them and their Nuclear Advisers. If you don't get a positive response, email your own MP and get them to lobby the Committee Members to positively move on a LFTRs study.

Safety of Light Water Reactors (LWRs)

Alvin Weinberg invented and held the patents on Light Water Reactors (LWRs). The UK's new-build nuclear programme is selecting from Areva's EPR or Westinghouse's AP1000, both of which are a version of an LWR known as Pressurised Water Reactors (PWRs); these are also the most prevalent civil nuclear reactor currently in use. The Fukushima plants are Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs), which are another version of LWRs.

The reactor vessels of LWRs contain pressurised water (wanting to turn to steam, if depressurised) or steam, at about 160 times atmospheric pressure. This is a high energy 'driver' capable of expelling radioactive substances into the atmosphere. Accidental and planned depressurisation played parts in both Three Mile Island and Fukushima accidents. The degree of atrophying of the nuclear industry, resulting from TMI, may well be amplified, in coming years, because of Fukushima.

The Enrico Fermi Award, presented to scientists of international standing for their contribution to energy - 1980, Alvin Weinberg.

This is a man who should be listened to; his opinions are important.

Weinberg railed against the use of LWRs for civil use, because of his awareness of their safety-fallibility. As Director of Research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), conducting experiments and operations of Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs),he argued vehemently for the use of one such MSR, the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR). LFTRs operate at atmospheric pressure and have no pressure 'driver', or any other form of driver (such as highly reactive chemicals), to expel radioactive substances into the environment. Weinberg went head-to-head with the political and military paymasters of the nuclear programme, in the criticism of LWRs and the promotion of the safety superiority of LFTRs, and for this, he was asked to leave the nuclear industry. His loss to ORNL, meant that his work had a short-lived legacy, withering on the vine until funds were withdrawn in the early 70s.

Until his dying day, Weinberg thought that the Earth's inexhaustible thorium resources would be the future of energy supply for all of humankind.

In his autobiogra­phy Weinberg confessed:
“I became obsessed with the idea that humankind’­s whole future depended on the breeder. For Society generally to achieve and maintain a standard of living of today’s developed countries depends on the availabili­ty of relatively cheap, inexhausti­ble sources of energy.”

In saying ‘breeder’, he was talking about the transmutat­ion of thorium232 to fissile Uranium233 in a LFTR.

Sunday 30 March 2011, reported in The Telegraph,  Chris Huhne said: "Globally, this undoubtedly casts a shadow over the renaissance of the nuclear industry. That is blindingly obvious."

I intend to vociferously lobby Chris Huhne and all members the Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change to consider, over and above the views of the Committee's expert witnesses, the views of the inventor of LWRs in respect of their safety and his desire to invest civil society with the ultimate in electricity and heat generation - the LFTR.

18 March 2011

It's Now or Never!

The text of Kirk Sorensen's interview for ABC News (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/03/18/3168019.htm?section=world) shows how he was allowed to make the case for LFTRs being several orders of magnitude safer than the the vast majority world's current LWR fleet.

Can we ever guarantee to
second-guess nature? 

The history case, linking to Alvin Weinberg, the inventor of the LWR, is mighty pursuasive in terms of presenting the information to the public at large. However, LFTR advocates need to be at the politicians and their expert advisers, who we know will have their backs to the wall, defending decades of pouring money into a safety-fallable, uranium-fuelled nuclear industry.

I've already emailed Chris Huhne, with the link to this article, suggesting he'd better move quickly on LFTRs, if he wants to stand a chance of meeting our carbon targets. He needs to  bear in mind what the gathering storm, from the massed ranks of the viscerally driven anti-nukes will do to his new-build nuclear programme.

I now plan to email him with a 'formal' request (if there is such a thing within the machinery of the studies his department carry out) for a study to be conducted on prototyping the first-of-a-kind (FOAK) LFTRs (to pre-production status). A further study, on production line manufacture of (say) 100 MWe units capable of being transported on a flat-bed truck, is also needed.

Anybody in the UK who reads this and is so inclined, I hope you will bang-on to your MP, to urge Chris Huhne to get LFTRs onto his energy agenda, with utmost urgency.