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How is that compared to mining for battery and solar material? It's a double standard to hold nuclear accountable for manufacturing when the same is not applied to solar/wind.



I didn't compare it to battery/solar at all. I just wanted to point out one source for the chemical environmental impact of Uranium refinement.

Alas, if we really compare to solar, then keep in mind that for a solar cell you can use 100% of the refined silicon, whereas with uranium you end up throwing away a large fraction (over 95%) with low enriched fuel, and an even larger fraction (over 99%) with high enriched fuel.

Add to that that uranium is not among the most abundant elements on Earth (about 1ppm), whereas silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust (about 27%). That alone gives silicon a huge advantage in energy/chemical impact on the environment compared to uranium.

Oh, and maybe I should point out that the chemistry to work with uranium is also a lot more nastier than with silicon. Uranium is a heavy metal, so it all happens through complexes and acidic chemistry, which limits the options on chemical pathways. Silicon OTOH is very similar to carbon in its chemistry, so there are vastly more options to process silicon, and that alone allows for far more efficient processes.


batteries and solar components need numerous extracts of minerals and a bunch of chemistry as well but as.you pointed out the solar lobby is happy to ignore all that when claiming they are a clean source of energy.


No source of energy is clean, in that respect. The best you can do is separate one time production and continuing operating pollution, and account for both. Using that to show pollution per Mhh at 5, 10 and 20 year intervals should be sufficient.


Reiterating my original comment, it would also be good to distinguish between the whole-lifecycle pollution generated now, with current electrical and transportation infrastructure, and the whole-lifecycle pollution you could achieve if you applied the "clean" technology to the whole lifecycle.

For example, solar panel production requires a lot of electricity. That electricity is mostly generated from fossil fuels. But if you supplied that electricity with solar panels instead, it would be way cleaner. Which is correct? We should probably present both numbers, if possible.


An optimistic upper bound (unlikely but possible renewable adoption for material production energy), and pessimistic lower bound (current mix of evnergy for material production), and a best guess. That might convey enough information to give someone a good guess as to how things might turn out.

It starts to sounds complicated, and to be a lot of information to digest for a decision, but another way of looking at it is that correctly assessing and planning for energy needs in the future is so important that ignoring information like that when making an assessment is irresponsible. We need more nytimes.com style widgets that allow you to tweak the values to easily digest data like this, and that clearly reference where the data and assumptions come from.


I agree that the full environmental cost should be known in all cases, but I hope you expect that the bias is somewhat justified by the fact that uranium functions as a fuel while solar and battery materials are multiple-use.


One can compare, but the nuclear industry pointedly ignores those areas, so I sort of assume it doesn't win on those points. Also solar/wind materials I would think are fairly recyclable.


The figures in TFA don't talk about solar, and the parent comments don't mention it. Who is making the supposed double-standard here?




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