MSRE Video!

This old video looks and feels like an Epcot Center or maybe a World’s Fair, but it is an informational video that shows important details of Molten Salt Reactor Experiment that was conducted at Oak Ridge National Lab 50 years ago.

Note the “computer” they used. My smartphone probably has 100 times the computing power of that old thing and 100,000 times the memory.

I continue to be amazed at this technology and even more amazed that it has gone unused for my entire lifetime.

Enjoy the show, folks!


Good source of Information about the History and Current State of Thorium Reactors

If you have the time, this video is very informative. It tells the basic history of nuclear power, starting with the Manhattan Project, and how uranium got the upper hand. The video was produced in Europe and is mostly in French, with subtitles. (sorry, but still very valuable)

The narrator is the ghost of Alvin Weinberg. There is a cameo of Kirk Sorenson and many others involved in promoting Thorium.



Ending the ruinous addiction to oil

“Ending the ruinous addiction to oil”

That sounds like something I might say, but those are the words of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. His entire article can be found here.

I will use my regular format to discuss this article; Kennedy’s words are in block quotes, and my comments follow.

The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949 — barely a year after the agency’s creation. Syrian patriots had declared war on the Nazis, expelled their Vichy French colonial rulers and crafted a fragile secularist democracy based on the American model. But in March 1949, Syria’s democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Quwatli, hesitated to approve the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria. In his book, Legacy of Ashes, CIA historian Tim Weiner recounts that in retaliation for Al-Quwatli’s lack of enthusiasm for the U.S. pipeline, the CIA engineered a coup replacing al-Quwatli with the CIA’s handpicked dictator, a convicted swindler named Husni al-Za’im. Al-Za’im barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, four and a half months into his regime.

Thus, the US has been meddling in foreign affairs in the Arab world for seven decades and for what? Oil, of course and an oil pipeline, specifically.  The CIA and Big Oil (I know, I am repeating myself) always follow the same playbook: Overthrow the existing ruler, who is not supporting Big Oil with a combination of propaganda, covert and overt force and put in place a stooge who does support Big Oil.

Fast forward to 2009:

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link. In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria. It is important to note that this was well before the Arab Spring-engendered uprising against Assad.

Thus, nothing has changed in 70 years. This is the legacy brought to the world by Big Oil and corrupt US foreign policy. What has been the cost of the most recent shenanigans in the Middle East?

The million refugees now flooding into Europe are refugees of a pipeline war and CIA blundering.

Let’s face it; what we call the “war on terror” is really just another oil war. We’ve squandered $6 trillion on three wars abroad and on constructing a national security warfare state at home since oilman Dick Cheney declared the “Long War” in 2001.

Remember, these are not my words, but the words of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

He ends with these words:

It’s time for Americans to turn America away from this new imperialism and back to the path of idealism and democracy. We should let the Arabs govern Arabia and turn our energies to the great endeavor of nation building at home. We need to begin this process, not by invading Syria, but by ending the ruinous addiction to oil that has warped U.S. foreign policy for half a century.

I doubt that I would agree with Kennedy’s ideas of nation building here at home, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be the focus of Chain Dickey, but I do agree that we should mind our own business.

Kennedy is incorrect that it has only been half a century of oil intervention. By his own article, it is close to 70 years that the US has been meddling in Syria for oil on behalf of the Dulles Brothers and clients. I submit that it has not warped US foreign policy, but is the very quintessence of US foreign policy.

I promote nuclear energy because there is enough and to spare for the entire world. Since nuclear is a million times more energy dense than fossil fuels, no pipelines are needed, neither are oil tankers and neither is Chain Dickey.

Nuclear cuts to the heart of the global control of people and resources. Thus, it is no wonder that nuclear finds itself slandered from every quarter by those who stand to lose that global control


Energy Lies from H & M

I was at the H&M store in City Creek in Salt Lake (with my wife, of course, why else would I go there?) and saw this incredible statement:

HandM LiesThey claim that 100% of their stores in the US are powered with renewable electricity. What is that supposed to mean? There are a few electrons in the MWh they use that come from wind and solar? I think the statement is meaningless PR drool (aka lies).

I have written about Utah’s mix of electric power before. Seventy-eight percent of the electricity in Utah comes from coal.

Every store in City Creek could claim their store is powered with renewable electricity, since the entire complex is grid connected. What then is the point? We are trendy and believe in trendy things like renewable energy?

Hey H&M, why don’t you leave the energy thing to grownups and stick to what you know best – fashion?


Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Seventy one years ago this month, the United States dropped two atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima and one on Nagasaki. (The only atomic weapons ever used.) The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was of highly enriched uranium, while the bomb dropped on Nagasaki was plutonium. I could write a book about what I have learned in the last few years about the back story to both of these bombs, but I don’t want guilt ridden, addled, octogenarian veterans writing back to me.

Atomic_bombing_of_JapanThe uranium bomb was never tested before Hiroshima because its creators were so certain it would work. The plutonium type bomb, on the other hand was tested at Alamogordo at the Trinity site in New Mexico before being used at Nagasaki.

The Energy from Thorium FB page called this the worst PR rollout possible for nuclear energy in the history of the cosmos. I agree.

Whatever the political and military expediency, real, imagined, or invented post hoc was, it did not nor could it ever consider that humanity would still be paying the price today for the decision to drop those bombs.

Yes, the horror of those bombings is the genesis of the fear that is so easily manipulated today, that prevents the world from enjoying the energy that is locked inside the nuclei of certain heavy elements.

Maybe that will never change until we say sorry for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Would that be so hard? Does that require everyone else to say they are sorry first?



Nuclear Waste – A Modest Proposal for a Small Problem

Waste disposal is not a disadvantage of nuclear power; it is one of its advantages.

But for opponents of nuclear power, they can’t help themselves from turning a silk purse into a sow’s ear, the sow and her wallowing in the mire.

Nuclear power production is the only power production process that actually can sequester its byproducts from the environment. Solar and wind can’t do this. (Please ask me about the hydrofluoric acid used to make solar cells or the bisphenol A and epichlorohydrin used to make wind turbine blades.)

Dr. Bernard Cohen calculated that the lifetime nuclear waste, assuming that all electricity produced was from nuclear, for one person would amount to about an aspirin bottle.IMG_8416

I don’t remember the aspirin bottle analogy, but the actual radioactive waste produced is about 0.5 cubic centimeter per year per person serviced — assuming that each person uses an average of 1 KW. That would be about 35 cm3 per lifetime, which approximates an aspirin bottle. If the material is converted to waste-glass, the volume would be about 10 times larger. I have published lots of papers on risk analysis of rad waste and can send you copies if that would be useful. If you want this, please specify whether you want technical or popular versions. The material is also covered in my book, “The nuclear Energy Option” Bernard L. Cohen

Dr. Cohen’s calculation of the amount of nuclear waste per person was based on first generation nuclear power plants using light water technology. Others have calculated that the amount would fit in a soda can.IMG_8454

Still others have calculated that the amount of nuclear waste, using a liquid fluoride thorium reactor, would be about the same as a package of Skittles I got from my local credit union. Also, many of the fission products have economic value. They are not waste and do not need to be disposed of.

IMG_8409Of the remaining amount that is actually waste, my very modest proposal for this small amount of nuclear waste is to take it with me when I go.

Concrete vault and coffinI could hold it in my hand inside my coffin and concrete vault while I await resurrection.


Vermont Yankee RIP

I didn’t pay much attention when the storm clouds were building around Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant (NPP), gathering to force closure of another productive noo-clay-err asset because, frankly it was far away and out of my sight. I’m not sure if my voice would have carried any weight with anyone, anyway.

Be that as it may, we now have two years of data that clearly shows that the output of VY was replaced with, wait for it—————————————————- natural gas fired electrical generation.

Governor Pete Shumlin claimed that the state didn’t need the power produced by VY. Meanwhile, VY was trying to sell the entire output of the 600 WM plant to the utilities for 4 cents per kilowatt hour. Can you imagine that? (BTW the output of VY was enough to power the entire state! Imagine powering the state with a single windmill or solar installation, haha!)

I currently pay over 10 cents per kilowatt hour retail in Brigham City. At 4 cents per kwh, the utilities could cover their distribution costs and still make a decent profit and I could save a bunch, if I only had to pay 8 or 9 cents per kwh. Win, win, win for everybody. Just day dreaming again.

Could I please have VY?

I consider this a crime against electrical rate payers in Vermont. As Murray Rothbard says, follow the money. Who had motive and opportunity? Look no further than the gas suppliers in Vermont. They should be the prime suspects, along with Shumlin.

If the Attorney General of Vermont had any integrity and assuming that he wasn’t in on the fix, why isn’t he investigating this crime – a $10 billion property crime?


PS Two good sources of information about the whole VY deal are:

Atomic Insights and Yes Vermont Yankee


A Hypothetical Conversation

I was day dreaming (or maybe I nodded off) I had the following conversation with a USU environmental science major, just after he got off his slack line. Don’t let the dreds, chacos, and granola distract you. This guy is serious.

me: Why do you prefer wind and solar to just about any other source of energy?

hipster: Because they are free, don’t you know?

me: You mean free, like the binding energy of certain metallic elements?

hipster: What is binding energy?

me: It is the energy that can be extracted from thorium and uranium through fission?

hipster: You mean nuclear? That stuff is bad!

me: It’s just as free as wind and solar energy.

hipster: No it isn’t. You have to have a totally expensive reactor that produces all kinds of waste and radioactivity that is the most toxic thing in the universe.

me: Don’t you have to have solar panels and wind turbines to collect solar and wind power? Do you know how solar cells are made? Don’t you think hydrofluoric acid is toxic?

hipster: Yeah, but solar panels don’t cost that much, especially if we build enough to power the whole US and Elon Musk said we will have batteries to store power so we can use our laptops at night. And what does hydrofluoric acid have to do with solar panels?

me: Hydrofluoric acid is used in the production of solar cells and can eat through your skin and won’t stop until it gets to the bone and combines with the calcium in your bones.

hipster: Really, through your skin?

me: Yes. And how much would it cost to power the entire US with wind and solar?

hipster: Bernie Sanders said we could pay for it with just the windfall profit taxes on big oil companies.

me: How much would that be in dollars?

hipster: Really when you consider the good of the planet, it’s not that much.

me: In dollars, please.

hipster: Only about 1 or 2 times our GDP, according to Mark Jacobson. We studied his plan for wind and solar power for Utah in my Enviro Sci 201 class.

me: Dollars?

hipster: 10 trillion dollars, give or take

me: Choke!

hipster: yeah, it’s really not that much when you think about it. We totally have to do it to prevent climate change.

me: Why do we have to prevent climate change? Is the climate now at some optimum?

hipster: Because people are damaging the planet. We are a virus on this planet.

me: I am not a virus.

hipster: Humanity is not natural. We are using too many resources, especially in the West. Our lifestyles are not sustainable.

me: Finally there is something we agree about. Your lifestyle is not sustainable. Your mom and dad still paying for you tuition and room and board?

hipster: Yeah, but I totally just got a job at the ARC in the climbing gym.

me: How long have you been at USU?

hipster: This is my 4th year.

me: So are you graduating soon?

hipster: Yeah, I just have 2 years left.

me: Back to the planet. How is humanity not part of nature? There is only one world and we are part of it.

hipster: Population growth is putting pressures on the habitats of many endangered species. People are taking too much from the other species which are stressed and endangered.

me: Please stay on topic. How are people not natural?

hipster: They are not natural because they build freeways and shopping malls.

me: Don’t birds build nests and foxes build dens? How is a house less natural than those?

hipster: You’re old, man. You don’t get it. Humanity is not natural. They are a virus.

me: You mean you are a virus?

hipster: No, people in the West who use air conditioning and drive SUVs.

me: Didn’t I see you pull up in a Subaru?

hipster: That belongs to my parents.

me: Do you use the AC in the car?

hipster: Only when I come back from the whole foods market with my organic soy latte and tofu, dude!

me: What’s wrong with driving SUVs?

hipster: It’s just like putting a knife into the belly of Mother Earth.

me: How so?

hipster: It took 30 million years to form the oil you burn in one tank of gas for your SUV.

me: That’s part of the reason why I’m promoting nuclear power. I would like for all humanity to enjoy a comfortable standard of living, which is only possible by access to affordable energy.

hipster: But the nuclear waste problem has never been solved and nuclear power is something we don’t need because we can power the whole earth with wind and solar power.

me: How much will that cost? And how is that possible?

hipster: Bernie Sanders said we could pay for it with just the windfall profit taxes on big oil companies.

me: You said that before. Wasn’t that for just the US? Give or take $10 trillion dollars?

hipster: Mark Jacobson has built a model showing how the whole world can be powered by just wind and solar with some pumped hydro for baseload power and at night. I heard that in one of my classes.

me: Focus, how much in dollars?

hipster: My class hasn’t got that far yet. I think we will be discussing that right after we study how CO2 is causing ocean acidification.

me: Did you know that nuclear reactors do not emit CO2?

hipster: I told you we don’t need them, man! And what about the unsolved problem of nuclear waste?

me: Nuclear reactors produce power day and night and when the wind doesn’t blow. Of course we need them. The supposedly unsolved problem of nuclear waste is a red herring.

hipster: What do you mean red herring?

me: I mean that there are many ways to deal with the very relatively small amount of waste produced by nuclear reactors, especially thorium reactors.

hipster: But they told me in my Enviro Sci 303 class that the nuclear waste problem can never be solved.

me: Thorium molten salt reactors produce less waste than any other form of energy production including solar and wind and they produce prodigious amounts of energy, day and night. Waste from molten salt reactors can be separated and sold for industrial uses. The pounds of radioactive material remaining from one large reactor from each year’s production becomes less radioactive each day. What to do with that is a very solvable engineering problem.

hipster: Well, Elon Musk, you know the guy who makes the Tesla cars and SpaceX, is building a gigafactory to make batteries that you can install in your garage. The battery is charged during the day with solar panels so I can have lights and recharge my iphone at night, so we don’t need nuclear, which is too expensive anyway.

me: What about hot water and heating? It gets pretty cold in Logan in the Winter.

hipster: Yeah, you can run the heater with the batteries, too.

me: You mean the fan on the furnace? Do you know how many solar panels and batteries it would take to actually heat your house?

hipster: Just a solar panel or two. Tiny houses are totally sustainable. I’m going to buy when after I graduate.

me: Where do you live now?

hipster: In my parents’ basement. But I am totally getting an apartment cause I just got a job at the ARC.

me: How many solar panels and batteries would it take to heat your parents’ basement?

hipster: We learned in class that we just need to turn down the thermostat in the winter and we could easily heat our homes with solar panels.

me: Turn it down to what?

hipster: Like 68 degrees, dude. I can totally do that.

me: How many solar panels and batteries would it take to heat the basement with the temp set to 68, then? What about the famous Cache Valley inversions? How many panels then?

hipster: Just a couple.

me: Why don’t you try that and let me know how it works out for you.

hipster: Totally, dude! I gotta get back to my slack line. My buddies are calling me.

me: Poor fool!

awake me: Did anyone see me drool?