I'm trying to figure out how that works. One team moves the crane and the geiger counters near the device, the next team brings in the lead boxes, the next team attaches the device to the crane, the next team puts it in the box and closes the box, the next team checks that the box is working, and then someone else puts the boxes on a truck?
During the recovery operations, the following steps were taken:
(1) The vehicle and container were positioned so the rear of the vehicle was close to the radioactive sources.
(2) Two members of the recovery team installed stairs on the vehicle.
(3) The recovery team was divided into two groups. The first was positioned in an area located 20 m from the radioactive sources. The second remained beyond that area at a safe distance from the location of the radioactive sources.
(4) Two members of the recovery team placed the manipulating devices near the location of the radioactive sources.
(5) One member of the recovery team cleared the surrounding area of the radioactive sources.
(6) One member of the recovery team collected one of the radioactive sources and placed it into a special vessel.
(7) Two members of the recovery team transferred the radioactive source in the special vessel to the vehicle.
(8) Two members of the recovery team standing on the vehicle received the radioactive source and placed it into the container.
(9) In the event that a recovery team member became unable to complete their activity (e.g. due to the dose received), a substitute person was ready and available.
(10) The second half of the recovery team conducted the same actions for the second radioactive source.
(11) One person conducted individual dosimetry control for all members of the
recovery team and recorded the doses.
(12) Two members of the recovery team conducted dose rate monitoring.
(13) All actions were led by a team member assigned to give commands to start or to stop, according to the plan. A signal to stop was given to every worker after 40 s from the beginning of each activity, indicating replacement by the
> Following the exposure on 2 December 2001, all three patients exhibited in the first 24h symptoms of nausea, vomiting, asthenia (weakness), headaches and dizziness, followed by cutaneous radiation syndrome (CRS). These early clinical manifestations and anamnesis of the patients strongly indicated ARS of a haematological type for the three patients. Furthermore, Patient1-DN developed transitory oropharyngeal syndrome.
The last medical condition is usually found in older people, making swallowing difficult: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oropharyngeal_dysphagia
Also the PDF has some helpful pictures and diagrams. Looks like both original containers were nearly stacked and sideways on a rocky/hilly path, in a difficult to get to place.
But everytime I hear this story, I got to wonder who would pick up an object generating heat and not question why it's still hot hours later?
If you didn't know that radioactivity can cause heat, and you found a magic hot rock, do you think you'd go "I don't understand this, must be dangerous" or "I have now clue how this thing works but it's really useful, I'm gonna keep that thing"?
However, thinking I understand something when I really don't will probably be the end of me :-P
It's not Russia.
For someone that has made so many videos on nuclear accidents, he seems to have a pretty poor understanding of nuclear radiation and contamination.
His "plainly difficult" disaster scale is all over the place, for example, the texas city disaster, which killed >581 people is rated as a 7, while some smoldering garbage at the "West Lake Landfill", rates just below it as a 6.
This is like those island tribesmen imitating air controller hand signals, because they thought it was magic that summoned supply planes.
> After the construction of the Hudoni hydroelectric station was stopped, the radio relay system lost its function, and the generators were left without supervision and control. By the end of the 1990s, the generators were disassembled, with the radioactive sources exposed and removed from their original location. Of the eight 90Sr radioactive sources, only six have so far been found.
>NTV reported that eight such radiothermal generators were brought to Georgia in the early 1980s to power relay antennas during construction of the Inguri and Khudoni hydroelectric plants, and subsequently abandoned. Six of these have now been recovered by Georgian authorities. Despite a search, however, Interfax reported on 24 January 2002 that Georgian police and the Georgian Environment Ministry have been unable to find the remaining two power generators. According to Georgian
A coal plant puts more radioactive isotopes into the air then any nuclear plant.
dont let the facts get in the way..
The video says the replacements were sometimes things like wind turbines. These tend to kill birds.
These RTGs seem quite impressive actually. Simple and easy to construct, if you have a nuclear industry. They survived for decades of being completely abandoned in a society falling apart. The biggest risk was only to people who literally broke in and stole them. There were no construction accidents creating and maintaining endless thousands of kilometers of transmission cables, no dead birds or dead maintenance engineers trying to repair a huge non-solid-state device in the middle of a Russian storm, the lighthouses presumably saved many lives and were cheap enough to build that the embattled USSR could afford to do so.
I wouldn't be surprised if a full lifecycle cost/benefit analysis that took into account the alternatives ended up being strongly positive in favour of this technology.
I don't accept this characterisation. I see Fukushima as an example of being curiously diligent in one area, and negligent in another, perhaps because rather than have a "culture" of safety it was simply legislation driven, such that standards dropped as soon as there was a gap/oversight in the legislation. To clarify - as safe as the plant was, it was not in a safe chosen location. Concerns were raised, and ignored. legislation covered the building and operation of the plant, not diligence in planning its location.
security is somewhat weakest-link - it doesn't matter if your doors are metal with strong locks if there are large windows without bars. Fukushima was always unsafe, just conditional on a relatively rare event - by the same measure the unstable warehouse cargo that exploded in Beirut was always unsafe, even if it existed for nearly 7 years.
«According to estimates by the US Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the world’s coal-fired power stations currently generate waste containing around 5,000 tonnes of uranium and 15,000 tonnes of thorium. Collectively, that’s over 100 times more radiation dumped into the environment than that released by nuclear power stations.»
About 1% of it is leaked into air, so about 500 tonnes of uranium and 1500 tonnes of thorium are leaked into air every year.
However, uranium and thorium are much less dangerous than radioactive iodine, strontium, and cesium.
Nuclear proliferation is a worldwide concern, but a new power plant in your backyard is as safe as relative to the national record.
Until the nuclear plant suffers a catastrophic accident...
I do not agree with this overall. It holds true only for some timescales and for some assumptions of risk factors.
Not specifically about waste, but still relevant. Fukushima and other plants in Japan were designed to withstand a 100 year tsunami. Bad luck that 3/11/11 was greater than that.
But Chernobyl and Fukushima (and others, let's not kid ourselves) are disasters with minuscule cost in lives and environment harm. Every year 60 million people die and out of that 12 million die due to unhealthy environment. Risks of (non-weapon) nuclear energy to life, while they exist, are a complete non-issue. Apart from political changes, we need cheap reliable energy to fix the atmosphere and to fix that unhealthy environment.
Concorde was the safest form of commercial air-travel, until one day in Paris it wasn't.
Nuclear currently has around 3% share of power generation globally. More share than Concorde had, certainly. But not enough to say definitively that nuclear's comparative safety is not just because of its comparative scarcity. It's been a low-hanging fruit.
Scale up to 30% share and be necessarily exposed to new risks which were not exposed at current levels of deployment.
Many of these additional risks would be from economic factors: we'd probably never achieve 30% share without a less rigorous and much less costly safety regime.
I am not going to be able to give statistics, but to me it's obvious. After all these decades, what's been holding nuclear down to its present market share is its economics of safety. Cost overruns all but bankrupted Toshiba, just to give one recent example.
If you want an order of magnitude more installations, you will have to relax those constraints.
So we cannot use today's safety record as proof of tomorrow's safety if we also expect massive increase in deployment.
When you add some batteries you will be fine with no pollution.
And no waste your childerns childern (and beyond) have to take care of.
Rare earth metals have to be mined in remote portions of China in dystopian hellscapes. Lithium and other minerals also have to be mined, and leave toxic tailing ponds. Solar panels frequently have cadmium and tellurium, which are also hazardous, and need to be managed. Plastics and composites in wind turbines also cannot be recycled.
There are no perfect solutions, and the future will almost certainly require a mixture of kinds of energy.
Thanks but I don't need a strawman.
On the other hand, particulate matter emitted by oil and coal plants causes millions of deaths per year, right now. And CO2 emissions from oil, gas and natural gas are bringing us to the brink of an environmental catastrophe.
Its not nuclear vs oil and gas. Renewables are an alternative with lower cost and lower waste.
A good safety history is a measure of what happened, not what could happen.
I specifically called out SYSTEMIC risk.
What's the systemic risk of solar panels and wind power, for example? A terrorist attack destroying 100 millions solar panels?
> On the other hand
The usual false dichotomy between nuclear and oil/coal/gas.
> And CO2 emissions from oil, gas and natural gas are bringing us to the brink of an environmental catastrophe.
...not to mention the direct release of heat into the atmosphere due to poorly isolated house heating, industrial production and electric generation plants themselves. None of which is mitigated by nuclear. Rather, it's made even worse by any source of cheap electricity.
Release of heat due to chemical and nuclear sources does heat the planet, but the contribution to heating compared to effect of increasing CO2 concentration is negligible in the range of 1%, this is well known.
Last time i studied this topic one of the main drawback of nuclear energy was precisely that it required accurate forecasts of future demand, so not suitable for "on demand" production, because of how long it takes to cool down.
Had anything improved in this area?
Therefore you need to run your plant at about full power all day to have a chance to recoup the investment. With renewable, although intermittent, sources vastly undercutting nuclear on price many hours of the day this becomes an even harder calculation.
Based on this nuclear is an uniquely bad pairing together with renewables, and it will only get worse. Say you can make massive profits on average one hour per day, but that means all other methods of energy generation of storage can make the same, and still undercut you.
This isn't even factoring in that it is impossible to get insurance for a nuclear power plant.
Thanks for the information.
No it's not - to compensate for times when there is not enough energy from renewable sources, you need power plants that can be shut down and brought back online quickly, and nuclear plants are certainly not that.
If Germany, NL, Denmark, Spain, UK et al. had 80% nuclear France's nuclear power would become uneconomic.
It's the grid and unique political considerations, not those plants' responsiveness that makes it work for France.
An RTG is just a hot piece of radioactive material surrounded by thermocouples that directly convert the heat into electricity.
In 2019, just 4 % of the global primary energy came from nuclear power (the figure is about 10 % if we restrict to electricity). Hence replacing fossil sources by nuclear would entail large-scale construction of new nuclear reactors. By the time we're done building these, we will already have exceeded our CO₂ budget for keeping below 1.5 °C at a reasonable certainty.
Also, at the current rate, the Uranium reserves last for approximately 140 years; if all fossil sources were switched for nuclear, it would last for 10 years. This problem can in principle be alleviated by innovative reactor types, but realistically they won't be available for large-scale production in the next couple years.
Luckily, we do have all the technology for phasing out fossil energy while staying within our CO₂ budget: water, wind, solar, storage of synthetic gas, gas-fueled power plants (fueled by synthetic gas obtained using renewable energy). Energy production with these alternatives is cheaper than with nuclear; this fact is an additional issue for expanding nuclear power -- it's not economically viable.
You either have to use seawater uranium or use breeder reactors of any fuel cycle. If you use both, uranium will last on the order of how long the nuclear fusion fuel of the sun will last (i.e. billions of years).
Most importantly, you don't need to only build breeder reactors right now. The "won't be ready in 10 years, forgetaboutit" argument doesn't really stand, especially as we look to powering direct carbon capture tech alongside decarbonizing a growing world.
National nuclear energy programs have always and will always consider a transition to breeder reactors essential for any meaningful long-term energy source. This has been the known plan since the mid-1940s.
Fun fact (pointed out to me by user pfdietz): If you dig up any average rock on earth, it has more energy in nuclear fuel (uranium and thorium) than a piece of pure coal of the same mass. WOW!
I wrote up a little page on this recently (featuring GNU Units if you saw that article yesterday): https://whatisnuclear.com/blog/2020-10-28-nuclear-energy-is-...
This is a so well known misconception that it is hard to not consider it propaganda by this point.
Known reservers of Uranium are of that size, yes. That's because with nobody bothers to look for more, because not only is there enough known for now, but finding more would actually increase competition and lower the prices - losing those who own the reserves the money.
There is way more Uranium just in the ocean water.
Meanwhile, all the technologies you're listing are either already maxed out (hydro), intermittent with unsolved storage (solar and wind), or vapourware (power to gas, etc).
Wikipedia paints a different picture but I consider that a fair point and I will look into it, thank you.
> intermittent with unsolved storage (solar and wind)
Can you be more specific about that? I know the figures only for Germany. Here, solar and wind match up almost perfectly (solar excees in the summer, wind excess in the winter) -- we would only need to store energy reserves for about two weeks. Gas tanks capable of storing these amounts already exist, they have been built several decades ago.
> or vapourware (power to gas, etc)
This is the first time that I hear power to gas described as vapourware. I'm very interested in that topic, could you give some more details or pointers?
Surely the onus is on whoever is claiming the technology does exist to provide some details of it.
I checked Wikipedia though  and the world's total installed P2G capacity looks like...less than 100 MW? It's at best one step above vapourware.
Trying to understand how this is an argument.
I'm unsure of the CO2 quantities so I cant make a statement as to whether its worth the CO2 cost.
What I can say is that wind, solar and other renewable alternatives also have initial CO2 costs, possibly lower than that of nuclear reactors.
I think it amounts to "this only solves half the problem, so we shouldn't do it".
Most big problems aren't solved by just doing one thing. When global warming is finally solved, it will have been by 10 separate things that each solved 5-20% of the problem.
Also, imposing an arbitrary deadline in 2029 is horrible project management. In a commercial project it's also dumb, but at least there you can cancel the project, and people move on to do other things.
For Earth, we can't cancel the planet in 2029 if targets weren't met.
But at our current rate, the global CO₂ budget will be fully exhausted in about eight years.
Hence we need to seize other measures, measures which reduce our emissions on a shorter timescale: switching to wind+solar+storage and in the process democratizing energy production, rethinking mobility (massive expansion of public transport, massive price reduction of public transport, massive investion in biking infrastructure, making outer city districts more attractive), putting a prize on CO₂ with a substantial steering effect (but ensuring that the proceeds of such a tax are given, in equal parts, to the population, so that people who contribute less-than-average to the climate crisis have more money available at the end of the day), transforming the system (because even with a prize for CO₂, there are lots of valuable things which cannot be measured in dollars, and competition pressure in unchecked capitalism deepens inequality and exploitation), ...
We don't actually know that. It's a model projection. Academic models have a long history of being wrong and seemingly always in the direction of being too pessimistic, across a variety of fields.
Do we need to transition away from fossil fuels? Sure. Are the models so robust and so beyond question that nuclear should be ruled out on the basis of a handful of years of construction time? No way. The science is nowhere near solid enough for that.
Nobody serious is suggesting we do nothing but deploy nuclear reactors. Just in the energy sector, we should do a massive build-out of wind, solar, transmission, and, yes, nuclear.
> switching to wind+solar+storage and in the process democratizing energy production
These have large economies of scale too. While you might want to install a small propeller in your back yard, it's much more cost effective to get the energy from the grid supplied by a large scale wind farm.
> rethinking mobility (massive expansion of public transport, massive price reduction of public transport, massive investion in biking infrastructure, making outer city districts more attractive), putting a prize on CO₂ with a substantial steering effect (but ensuring that the proceeds of such a tax are given, in equal parts, to the population, so that people who contribute less-than-average to the climate crisis have more money available at the end of the day), transforming the system (because even with a prize for CO₂, there are lots of valuable things which cannot be measured in dollars, and competition pressure in unchecked capitalism deepens inequality and exploitation), ...
These may all be good ideas (and personally, I would certainly agree with some of those), but has nothing to do with whether the needed energy is produced by renewables, nuclear, or mass deployment of hamster wheels.
At this point, it seems likely to me that we are doomed to at least a 1.5°C global temperature rise.
The figure about the proportion of nuclear power is from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption, the figure "140 years" from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_uranium.
> Could we really build enough solar and wind at today's level of technology (assuming sufficient economic motivation) without also blowing through our CO2 budget?
A back of the envelope calculation suggests that the necessary construction efforts require the emission of a couple of Gt CO2e. For comparison, at the start of 2018 our CO2 budget was 420 Gt (now it's about 320 Gt).
> If all the electricity use of the USA was distributed evenly among its population, and all of it came from nuclear power, then the amount of nuclear waste each person would generate per year would be 39.5 grams. That’s the weight of seven U. S. quarters of waste, per year! A detailed description of this result can be found here [https://whatisnuclear.com/assets/waste_per_person.pdf]. If we got all our electricity from coal and natural gas, expect to have over 10,000 kilograms of CO2/yr attributed to each person, not to mention other poisonous emissions directly to the biosphere (based on EIA emissions data [https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/ghg_report/ghg_car...]).
> If you want raw numbers: in 2018, there were just over 80,000 metric tonnes of high-level waste in the USA. Between 1971 and 2018, nuclear reactors in the USA generated 3000 GW-years of electricity to make this waste.
> For comparison, in 2007 alone the US burned 948,000,000 metric tonnes of coal. This means that coal plants made 32 times more waste every single day than the US nuclear fleet has made in the past 45 years! Granted, coal made a higher fraction of the country’s electricity, but the numbers are still crazy impressive for nuclear.
> The astoundingly low amount of nuclear waste is thanks to the near magical energy density of the atom.
Edit: replaced “containable” in second sentence with numbers
How much will it cost to re-capture an contain the CO2 generated by coal and gas?
I'm my current view, nuclear waste can be sequestered and stored effecting only a tiny fraction of the planet while greenhouse gases effect the whole planet.
That question can be answered be asking yourself how society would look if the government was efficient, logical, morale and free of corruption. In other words, its an interesting philosophical question, but not one that has any relevance to reality. Unfortunately most people, no how nominally "intelligent" they are, insist that the world exists as they wish it would, rather than it actually does. In reality, mistakes happen, incompetence happens, corruption happens, and unforeseen circumstances happen - all of which render nuclear waste (and facilities that produce nuclear power) much riskier and more dangerous than they would be in an ideal world. Unfortunately, this bit of undeniable objective reality is extremely unpopular (and offensive) to technocrats and others who worship blindly at the altar of human society and technology.
Here in Germany, we still have not found where to put nuclear waste long-term, and there is no solution in sight.
Even if one day we find one, how do we communicate the potential dangers of nuclear waste to a civilization that is supposed to understand what we're communicating in 30000, 50000 years? With a fancy unicode symbol, like U+2622?
We have no idea what people 3000 years ago were trying to tell us with their fancy symbols.
Nuclear energy is the analogy of tech debt that can never be paid back, ever.
The reason why the "waste" is dangerous is that there's a lot of energy in it - energy that can still be extracted at a later date. It might very easily be very valuable in the future.
Germany is really sad case, where they stopped using nuclear and replaced it with "clean coal". Terrible thing for the planet.
The Greens talk about nuclear waste and Fukushima, and meanwhile German green-washed coal plants and cheating diesel engines put crazy things in the air.
For similar reasons note that coal burning power plants add WAY more radiation into the environment than nuclear plants.
So humans don't create radiation, they just mine it, concentrate it, extract energy from it, and then dispose of it. So we are just moving it around, not creating additional radiation.
Imagine we extract uranium from ocean water, the radiation levels in the ocean would go from low, to even lower. If we take the nuclear waste and distribute it across the ocean the radiation levels would (at worst) raise to the levels we started with.
Based on what I've read all the scientists that are experts in relevant fields say that dealing with nuclear waste is a political problem, not a scientific one. There are multiple reasonable solutions. My favorite it making giant spikes out of a mix of radioactive material and glass. Covering the spike with steel and dropping it where the ocean is deep, near a subduction zone, and the sedimentation rate is higher than the leakage rate. By the time the spike hits the ocean floor it's going fast enough to bury itself deeply, the sediment fills in behind and will keep getting deeper, and the spikes will get sucked beneath the continental plate and not bother anyone ever again.
Yes that means higher concentrations of those decay products to deal with in the short term, but these mostly have quite short half lives in the grand scheme of things, in the order of years or decades.
The environmental impacts of nuclear energy are often grossly overestimated, this is why so many environmentalists are advocating for nuclear energy.
Problem: "no known human civilization has ever endured for so long, and no geologic formation of adequate size for a permanent radioactive waste repository has yet been discovered that has been stable for so long a period" 
The problem isn't the "sticking into the ground" part.
It's the finding of that place that will stay geologically inactive, uncivilized, and not near water sources for the next 100000 years. And then taking that bet.
It's literally like saying "Fuck other people who are born after me".
Plastic stuck into the ground is not radioactive.
Plastic stuck into the ground also degrades in a fraction of a fraction of the half-life of Plutonium.
Possibly, but unless there is other realistic low-carbon energy source (and it seems there isn't - hydro is already built everywhere where it can be, and solar and wind are intermittent with large-scale storage being unsolved problem) there won't be any people born after you.
What we need to do is evaluate the risks from all the current options. Fossil fuels, renewables and nuclear energy and come up with a balanced strategy. There are people dying right now from radioneucleotides released from fossil fuels, or just ambient radioactivity. It's a matter of relative risk.
I have 2 points here. 1) The half life is longer than recorded history so this isn't really fair. We've seen humans continually advance. Sure, there has been setbacks and some regressions but we haven't ever come even close at reverting back to the stone or even bronze age. That is highly unlikely and if that were to happen we'd probably have bigger problems. 2) Not all waste is equal. A good rule of thumb is that high energy waste is short lived and long lived waste is low energy. Why? Because high energy waste is shedding particles much faster than low energy. Simply if you use a bucket to remove the water from your swimming pool you'll finish a lot faster than you would if you used a tea cup.
> no geologic formation of adequate size for a permanent radioactive waste repository has yet been discovered that has been stable for so long a period
This is false and I'm not sure where you got this information from. We chose the location for the Seed Vault (and the GitHub vault) for similar reasons. There's plenty of other locations as well, several within the US. As for the bet, I'm betting on generations of PhD holding geologists to make that decision over really anyone else. As long as what they say doesn't set off any bullshit alarms I don't see why they shouldn't be believed. They are in fact the experts in the subject matter and just rejecting their work with no real evidence is rather arrogant and surprising to see on HN. I believe them for the same reason I believe climate scientists. I've read their work, seems reasonable, I've talked to them and they seem reasonable and passionate and well studied. How arrogant would I need to be to tell them they are wrong. My expertise lies in other fields.
I'd also suggest reading what actual plans are and understanding the scale of the waste problem. I find that many people over estimate the scale by many orders of magnitude. 
> It's literally like saying "Fuck other people who are born after me".
I'd say that not taking care of climate is saying "Fuck other people who are born after me." You're letting perfection get in the way of progress. We can say similar things about strip mining and rare earth materials. The things we'd need to develop battery storage to make renewables a feasible path forward. We can't wait for a miracle in battery storage. We needed to act 20 years ago. So now we have to make compromises. And as we drag our feet we are still polluting with coal and oil. To me that is the real "fuck you" to future generations. That we got so caught up in perfection that we let high pollution levels continue right on while we prayed for a miracle.
So sure if you mine uranium and concentrate it, you get a high peak source, but you are literally removing radiation from one place, and moving it to another.
So if you concentrate uranium out of ocean water and them spread the radioactive waste back into the ocean (at the same concentration) you are actually benefiting the ocean.
You can hold fresh nuclear fuel in your hand and be fine. Once it goes in the reactor to be fissioned, you'd get a fatal radiation dose in seconds if you stood next to it unshielded.
Carbon's best case scenarios is worst than nuclear's worst case scenario.
Actually in some countries nuclear waste is already (part of) today's fuel using existing reprocessing technology.
Remote applications would have lower costs but those should give you some idea of the reasons. https://inldigitallibrary.inl.gov/sites/sti/sti/7267852.pdf
See e.g. https://inis.iaea.org/search/search.aspx?orig_q=RN:9398623
As for getting electricity you can probably imagine that if you have two conductive plates that they will get charge levels across them and that's a capacitor. There are other ways to extract energy though and finding ways to do this is very helpful. But there is a theoretical limit to the energy and don't expect to replace solar panels unless you can capture those particles and use a nuclear process instead of an electromagnetic one.
If you're interested in this start searching for betavoltaics. That uses the E&M process whereas an RTG uses a thermal process. There's nothing stopping you from using both though.
The more modern solution for even more remote areas is fuel cells which can last significantly longer between inspections.
Delivery and deployment costs to the middle of the ice sheet are not cheap.
30W is kind of the no mans land of remote power. Batteries are becoming seriously impractical, but nothing is the clear winner.
Eventually reversible fuel cells might be a good option (use excess solar in the summer to produce methanol or whatever, then consume it in winter).
edit... so I need 40,000 of these: https://www.batteryjunction.com/xl-205f.html :)
Plus. nuclear material are only expensive because there are not enough usage - hence the economy of scale is small. They're arguably cheaper in the Soviet Union (even if they followed market terms).
The last was removed in 2015, as far as I know.
The story of how the Students made it is pretty great!
You can think of the upper limit for RTG’s as the amount of heat generated by spent nuclear fuel which worldwide doesn’t add up to that much power. Basically RTG’s don’t really generate extra heat just recycle and sort the spent fuel by isotope to get a dense power source.
E.g. Germany has loads of Sr-90 as a product of their fission power plants (typically PWRs fed with low-enriched uranium), at least some of which is already vitrified in borosilicate glass along with the other high-activity waste and currently standing around to cool down so it can eventually be stuffed deep into probably a rock salt formation.
It's not hard to separate it (and the Cs-137) from the rest of the spent fuel, if so desired.
that in some scenarios Greenland has the cheapest power in the world.
The location is beautiful (https://www.google.com/maps/place/Aniva,+Russia,+694005/@46....)
All I say is - if you're not good with gore, skip the section about the decay process of the affected people, it's not pretty.
That shale ash was so rich in uranium that the concrete turned blue! Since then thousands have died by passively breathing the radon evaporation from the walls in some Swedish houses.
On the subject RTG elements are also used in space probes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H62hZJVqs2o
As far as I know two Arktika-class ships are still in operation. Both Taymyr-class icebreakers still operate
Then there are five new project 22220 vessels under construction or under order. Each of them has two reactors that produce. 175 MW total.
Russia is planning to start building Project 10510 nuclear-powered icebreakers within 10 years.
I'm curious, why is that? The US, and other nations, routinely sail nuclear powered ships into ports all around the world.
So you introduce a very expensive to run freighter that requires complex cargo handling just as containers are starting to take the world. Not a good idea.
I doubt it has to do with it being of Russian origin - but more-or-less the unknown level of maintenance the ship and it's reactor have had since the fall of the USSR.
The reactors on these ships cannot be readily weaponized; there's practically no risk there. However, the reactors require a full crew to operate, even when just sitting in port being babysat (there is no "turning off" a rector).
During the collapse of the USSR, regular maintenance and full crew staffing would have likely been challenging, putting the condition of the reactor in uncertain territory.
The last diesel class was the 3x 1950s Barbels, decommissioned by 1990: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbel-class_submarine
Doesn't seem to exist many civil nuclear powered ships at all. And barely any non-US/Russian ships, at least still in service. From my quick searches at least.
Large nuclear military ships likely have some port restrictions anyway.
The restrictions are more to do with the size of the ship, not it's propulsion mechanism.
Routinely, US Submarines and Aircraft Carriers (all powered by nuclear reactors) sail into normal civilian ports around the world for various reasons.
Disclaimer: I'm pro-renewables and pro-nuclear if it can be done "right".
(Basically you get a hunk of radioactive material that heats up from its own radiation and harvest that heat for electricity.)
These things use radioactive decay, which is either alpha or beta particles coming out at a constant rate. Alpha and beta decay are not considered fission. (Though you'd have a reasonable case with Beryllium-8 alpha decay to Helium-4!)
Spontaneous fission decay is a thing and does happen. But not enough to power any of these kinds of things.
But the main reason is that people are stupid and some would inevitably pull theirs apart and contaminate their surroundings with pretty nasty radioactive material. There's no engineering or practical reason why we wouldn't have RTGs for a heap of civilian applications, the reason is that people suck.
NASA is currently working on a 'micro' scale fully self contained fission reactor for the next mission to meet the higher power demand of the craft.
Alpha and low energy beta emitters such as those used in nuclear batteries are not dangerous at all if shielded properly. In fact they are MUCH easier to shield than shielding a Lithium battery from the possibility of fire.
It's gamma emitters that are much harder to shield properly.
Read: if there is no feasible route for them to be aspirated, ingested, or get into your eyes.
Making a new device that has this property seems to be a pretty straightforward problem that we know how to do. The problem comes when an old device has been damaged or destroyed kinetically or via pyrotechnics.
And while giving RTGs to general population isn't the brightest idea, it's stupid to consider these issues as a wholesale dealbreaker for nuclear technologies.
I'm not an expert on that tech though.
In any case, people actually once proposed cars like that! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Nucleon
And to actually power your car, I believe they have too little power output, so they would only make for a expensive and dangerous car batterie, but one you do not have to charge.
(also, terrorists, dirty bombs, ...)
Considering cars are typically used for <10% of the day, the battery's static output wattage only needs to be about 1/10 of a car's operational wattage.
Basically when you get home and park your car, it just starts charging on its own from its nuclear battery. Optimize the nuclear battery size to minimize excess. If that battery gets full, release the excess as heat to the ground or sky, and also use some of it to maintain the lithium battery at optimal temperature. It will be only 1/10 of the driving wattage, so it will be much easier to do something with it.
Or plug in the car when you get home and it can power a good fraction of your home.
Next up is Strontium, but that is quite dangerous due to human uptake in the bones. And there's polonium - very poisonous and too short a half life to be used.
I have heard from a friend in the business of a new concept that generates desirable isotopes specifically for decay heat sources in a reactor in an encapsulated form which gets rid of any weapons material or processing of radioactive material.
1) the sun is a giant nuclear reactor and we indirectly derive most of our energy from it. Radioactive elements in general are the most energy dense and I agree with the idea of “nuclear energy in every home and office”. Sounds amazing. What makes nuclear so dangerous?
2) are there nuclear materials with short half life. Such that if you turn it off, it’s safe by default. It doesn’t require constant cooking and isolation.
3) is if there is a super intelligent alien species out there, most likely they’ve figured out how to harness nuclear power and make it portable. Is there a way we, as human species can do the same?
If voyager and the Mars rovers are operating on nuclear power, can we have nuclear powered planes, cars and robots that are safe and ubiquitous? (Safe nuclear batteries)
> the sun is a giant nuclear reactor and we indirectly derive most of our energy from it. Radioactive elements in general are the most energy dense
Worth noting that this is conflating two different phenomenon: fission, and fusion. Despite the similarity in spelling, these have very little to do with each other.
Neither of these have much to do with the "nuclear generator" in the article, which is based on natural fission, but not a chain reaction. It's actually more akin to refined, bottled geothermal power.
> What makes nuclear so dangerous?
First of all, it's not. Nuclear is one of, if not THE safest and cleanest form of power. But there are risks worth worrying about, even though with modern designs and regulatory procedures the risk to life and the environment is less than with other sources.
Those risks basically boil down the fact that radioactivity causes cancers, thyroid disease, and in high doses various lethal forms of radioactivity sickness. And like all heavy metals, radioactive materials can easily get absorbed by our biology and deliver that harmful radioactivity slowly over time.
When there is a leak of radioactive material (like Chernobyl, Fukushima, or almost happened with Three Mile Island), the result can be pretty damn scary. But what nuclear nevertheless safer than other energy sources is (1) these events are rare, and nuclear is otherwise perfectly clean and safe; and (2) modern designs cannot fail in the way these older reactors did. For example, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island failed in pretty much the same way, but Three Mile Island's design kept the radiation entirely contained. When deciding about new power plants, we should be evaluating the risks of new designs.
You might wonder what makes other power sources more dangerous. Coal and natural gas have obvious health and pollution concerns. But wind and solar both involve A LOT of materials processing, construction, and maintenance, all of which have dangers that add up. Geothermal and hydro power are probably the two power sources that are better than nuclear, but aren't available everywhere.
TL;DR Nuclear is scary. It's not necessarily dangerous (compared with other sources of power).
> are there nuclear materials with short half life. Such that if you turn it off, it’s safe by default. It doesn’t require constant cooking and isolation.
I think you are confusing controlled fission reactors vs. radioisotope generators.
Fission reactors are the big nuclear power plants, which you can turn on and off. There are ways of making this safer and having less lethal byproducts. Mostly we need to start using breeder reactors, which reprocess spent fuel, instead of just putting it in waste pools and forgetting about it.
Radioisotope generators are what TFA are about. Purified chunks of radioactive material (like plutonium) are naturally hot from their radioactivity, which is basically the same reason the Earth is hot--that's why I called it bottled geothermal power above. You then just attach some thermal couples to the outside of the plutonium, to generate electricity from the difference in temperature.
You cannot turn off a radioisotope generator. It just goes on being hot for decades, until the main radioactive elements have decayed away.
> If voyager and the Mars rovers are operating on nuclear power, can we have nuclear powered planes, cars and robots that are safe and ubiquitous? (Safe nuclear batteries)
Unlikely. We know how to make small nuclear power plants, as we use them in submarines. But it's not easy to do this in a safe way, for reasons that are too complicated for a HN post. But basically it is the safety equipment that makes nuclear power big and bulky.
youtube-dl.exe -f bestvideo+bestaudio "https://vod-dash-ww-live.akamaized.net/usp/auth/vod/piff_abr..."
And the subtitle(EBU-TT-D format):
Vlc can play it with the sub.