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Earth Power Technology Science

New Process Allows Fuel Cells To Run On Coal 125

Posted by timothy
from the brown-green-or-green-brown dept.
Zothecula writes "Lately we're hearing a lot about the green energy potential of fuel cells, particularly hydrogen fuel cells. Unfortunately, although various methods of hydrogen production are being developed, it still isn't as inexpensive or easily obtainable as fossil fuels such as coal. Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology, however, have recently taken a step towards combining the eco-friendliness of fuel cell technology with the practicality of fossil fuels — they've created a fuel cell that runs on coal gas."
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New Process Allows Fuel Cells To Run On Coal

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  • It is a type of fish, red in colour. Often smoked.

  • Yay! (Score:2, Funny)

    This is excellent - we now have another way to use up the diminishing supplies of fossil fuels even faster! What will they think of next?
    • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:14AM (#36568294)
      For better or worse, coal won't run out any time soon, in fact we have a huge amount right here in the US. It will be setting a very low, if destructive, baseline for the price of renewable energy sources for a long, long time.
      • We're out of coal that we can get from a mine for the most part.

        Now we cut off the tops of mountains to get it. It might be there to get, but the cost of extraction (to the environment) has been skyrocketing.

        • Re:Yay! (Score:4, Informative)

          by maeka (518272) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:00AM (#36568752) Journal

          We cut the top off of mountains because it is cheaper not because "coal that we can get from a mine" is running out.

          • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by maeka (518272) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:42AM (#36569212) Journal

            We're out of coal that we can get from a mine for the most part.

            We cut the top off of mountains because it is cheaper not because "coal that we can get from a mine" is running out.

            Sorry about the self-reply, but let's clarify this a little more.

            Cutting the top off of mountains to get to coal is the logical consequence of regulations in the United States and modern technology. Our government (arguably that means our society) values people more than it values the environment.

            Shaft mining is risky, and it always will be. Mountaintop removal takes more machinery, more energy, but less people, and less risk. Machinery (technology) is cheap in the USA, as is energy. People, both in terms of labor cost and in terms of safety regulation cost, are expensive. It is no wonder we do it.

            • Our government (arguably that means our society) values people more than it values the environment.

              Do you disagree with that?

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                Our government (arguably that means our society) values people more than it values the environment.

                Do you disagree with that?

                people live in the environment, so that's a dumb thing to say. If you crap on the environment you crap on ALL people. If a few miners die, then a few miners die. Of course, when you burn coal (does anyone really believe that the byproducts from the coal to coal gas process will be disposed of properly?) then you release radioactives that also crap on ALL people. You kill people with cancer. So really we should be spending our energy moving away from coal. We also have no strategy for sequestering the CO2 as

                • by ultranova (717540)

                  people live in the environment, so that's a dumb thing to say. If you crap on the environment you crap on ALL people. If a few miners die, then a few miners die.

                  Drinkypoo is on the roll again.

                  Of course, when you burn coal (does anyone really believe that the byproducts from the coal to coal gas process will be disposed of properly?) then you release radioactives that also crap on ALL people. You kill people with cancer. So really we should be spending our energy moving away from coal. We also have no strat

                  • by drinkypoo (153816)

                    Where do you think the power is going to come from? Pixy dust?

                    Perhaps it could come from the indignation of slashdotters who think that the way we have always done things is necessarily the best way.

                    I oppose nuclear power because of accidents, yes. We have had every kind of nuclear accident imaginable already, and there are no signs that we're getting any smarter about nuclear power; we are still building them in places where no reactor should be built, for example.

                    • by ultranova (717540)

                      Perhaps it could come from the indignation of slashdotters who think that the way we have always done things is necessarily the best way.

                      If you know of a better way of generating power, say it. Rhetoric doesn't cut it in engineering.

                      I oppose nuclear power because of accidents, yes. We have had every kind of nuclear accident imaginable already, and there are no signs that we're getting any smarter about nuclear power; we are still building them in places where no reactor should be built, for example.

                      And wi

            • by Ihmhi (1206036)

              This is probably gonna sound stupid, but I don't care if it does because I'm genuinely curious. Aside from the damage to the scenery, are there any environmental consequences of shaving off the top of a mountain? I can't think of any offhand (that's not to say they don't exist; I'm genuinely ignorant of them).

              • Aside from the damage to the scenery, are there any environmental consequences of shaving off the top of a mountain?

                If you can seriously ask this question, shame on you for not paying attention to a huge on-going ecological disaster.

                In brief: yes. Mountaintop removal has horrid consequences. From the wik: [wikipedia.org]

                A January 2010 report in the journal Science reviews current peer-reviewed studies and water quality data and explores the consequences of mountaintop mining. It concludes that mountaintop mining has seri

                • by Ihmhi (1206036)

                  Thanks for the info, interesting read.

                  If you can seriously ask this question, shame on you for not paying attention to a huge on-going ecological disaster.

                  Unfortunately, there's far too many "huge, on-going ecological disasters" for the average person to keep track of.

            • by ShakaUVM (157947)

              >>Our government (arguably that means our society) values people more than it values the environment.

              Uh, a lot of this sort of stuff is banned now. Hydraulic mining (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_mining) for example is now illegal. Doesn't really fit well into your thesis.

              Hell, we can't even build dams or canals these days due to environmental laws. I hope you like all of the water you're putting into reservoirs now - that's going to be all you get for a while.

        • Absolutely not true is correct. People would be freaking out if that was the case.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Coal won't run out, but we are definitely past "peak coal." Instead of hollowing out a mountainside, companies are force to use more risky/dangerous/environmentally devastating ways to get at the coal.

        Oh, don't forget quality of coal. Lignite coal is very polluting. The good stuff, anthracite is effectively all gone, so no coal plant is going to be running it. Instead, the coal being used is bottom drawer stuff that either spews toxins in the air, or if filtered, ends up at the coal site.

        There was a /.

        • I don't think you know what the term "peak" means.

        • by osu-neko (2604)

          Oh, don't forget quality of coal. Lignite coal is very polluting.

          If you burn it, yes. One assumes you didn't read the article, or else you'd realize that's a moot point here.

        • There was a /. post a few weeks back of some innovative poster who managed to compute the total of deaths per terawatt caused by energy sources. Believe it or not, nuclear was dead last in confirmed kills, and coal was pretty high on the list.

          Probably at the top of the list, with almost 13,000 dead annually. Or maybe not. http://www.coalcares.org/cleanenergy.html [coalcares.org] teaches us that wind power kills a lot more.

          • Take a good read of your article, no where does it state the number of PEOPLE killed by wind energy. Instead it talks about birds / bats when talking about wind vs people for coal. Exploding bats sounds like fun though I can't say I've ever heard about that before so I'd definitely say that's one for the Mythbusters to investigate.

            "Violently spinning turbine blades are a potential decapitation hazard for curious passers-by who climb up the ladders often installed on the shafts. Also, these high, easy-to-cli

        • by catprog (849688)

          I have seen statements saying that the US has 500 years of coal left at current usage. and is about 20% of the energy mix.

          now if their is a 5.00% annual growth in coal usage that 500 years drops down to 67

      • by yarnosh (2055818)
        We have a lot of coal, but getting at it is a messy, ugly business. Have you seen what srip mining looks like? Do no want!
    • Missing the point (Score:5, Informative)

      by Scareduck (177470) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:17AM (#36568320) Homepage Journal

      The point of a fuel cell would be to burn fossil fuels more efficiently.

      • by Arlet (29997)

        Except that in this case, the fuel cell is not more efficient than directly burning the coal. According to the article the efficiency is 50%, and that probably doesn't include the losses incurred in producing coal gas out of coal.

        The major advantage is that coal gas is much easier to transport and store compared to coal, which could make useful as an automotive fuel, for instance. Also, when you clean the coal gas at the production plant, you don't have to worry about nasty emissions when you use it in a c

        • it truly is about automotive uses... I would like to point out though, coal gas, used in a fully electric car would end up being a lot more efficient in terms of power that hits the road than any ICE engine right now and coal gas could replace foreign and most domestic oil and reduce the load on the power grid for full electric cars to nothing

        • by osu-neko (2604)

          Except that in this case, the fuel cell is not more efficient than directly burning the coal. According to the article the efficiency is 50%, and that probably doesn't include the losses incurred in producing coal gas out of coal.

          It is more efficient that burning the coal. Read the entire sentence, not just the first half. From TFA:

          The fuel cells are also said to capture about half of the energy in the coal gas, as opposed to the third captured by burning.

          • by strack (1051390)
            i also read that they can capture the waste heat from the process and put it through conventional turbines, bumping up the total efficiency to 80%.
        • I don't think it would replace the standard coal fired power station as power plants consume so much fuel that even a modest increase in power generation efficiency produces much higher profits. The most efficient plants run at around 60% efficient. You are correct that this probably will be applied to transportation as I would think it would dramatically decrease the cost per mile. The major problem it would face in the consumer market would be the initial upfront cost of a vehicle with one of theses. It m
    • by VAElynx (2001046) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:25AM (#36568398)
      than oil. Plus, using fuel cells to generate electricity is generally more fuel-wise efficient than trying to do it via combustion - so far , combined cycles (and there's few of those) have efficiencies between 50-60 % IIRC - in other words technology like this will make our stockpiles last *longer* not shorter.
  • by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:16AM (#36568308)

    Coalgas is what you get when you break down coal to things like hydrogen and water and co. you can run anything on that gas. No need for a fuel cell.

    • coal contains many other items. Sulfur, Nitrogen, Mercury, Uranium, lead, etc. In fact, some of the worst coal is in China, and it is LOADED with those items. I wonder if those will be cleaned first?
      • You really think the EPA would allow car to exhaust that crap? Besides that... the Fuel Cell would get wreaked by those materials.

    • by osu-neko (2604)

      Coalgas is what you get when you break down coal to things like hydrogen and water and co. you can run anything on that gas. No need for a fuel cell.

      But, if you read the article, you know that using the fuel cell will allow you to get more energy from that gas than simply burning it.

    • It is actually called syngas [wikipedia.org] and is something that has been know of for quite some time. The production of syngas is necessary for the Fischer–Tropsch process [wikipedia.org] which is a method of creating synthetic hydrocarbons instead of digging them up from the ground. Yes you can directly burn the syngas, but it faces the same problems as storing and transporting other gases, plus since you are dealing with hydrogen there are issues with embrittlement [wikipedia.org] of certain materials. This isn't that difficult to overcome, bu
  • by The Great Pretender (975978) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:16AM (#36568310)
    Interesting solution, but the article misses some pivot points.

    The fuel cells are also said to capture about half of the energy in the coal gas, as opposed to the third captured by burning.

    and

    Because solid oxide fuel cells have traditionally operated best at temperatures above 850C (1,562F), they have had to be made from relatively expensive heat-resistant materials. When treated with barium oxide and running on coal gas, however, they can operate at temperatures as low as 750C (1,382F).

    How much energy does it take to gasify coal? - Deduct that. Also deduct the energy required to keep the fuel cell at 750C. Fuel cells currently run about 40% efficient, so multiple the previous number by 0.4. It's going to be a lot less than 30%.

    Unlike hydrogen fuel cells, these ones do create carbon dioxide in the course of operation. Part of that CO2 is reused, however, for gasifying the coal. The rest is in a much more pure form than that produced simply by the burning of coal in a power plant, so extensive separation and purification wouldn't be required for sequestration.

    So what CO2 sequestration are they envisaging? I'm not aware of anything that is truly commercial yet, except for the paper accounting job of claiming biomass production for a CO2 removal brownie point.

    How much energy

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      If this was something concrete, you'd be seeing it across papers everywhere. This is nothing but a working theory, and yet another hope for a solution to mobile energy problem.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      While it's good to be skeptical of these claims, you're being too skeptical. This is not really a new fuel cell, but a new catalyst for the solid oxide fuel cell, which has been built and commercially sold and is known to have efficiency of ~45%+.

      To give you some numbers, gasification is ~80%+ efficient depending on scale. The fuel cell process is exothermic, so you get the heat needed to keep the reactor at 750C for free except for the initial few minutes when you turn on the reactor--which won't happen

      • Hey I'm all for improving our technology. The issue I have with press releases like this is the simplicity of the claims. They compare the direct efficiency from consumption of the coal gas to the energy efficiency of burning the coal. This is apples to oranges. There needs to be an envelope drawn around the efficiency area. You wouldn't compare the energy captured from igniting crude oil directly with the well-to-wheels efficiency of gasoline. It makes no sense.
    • how much energy is passed to the wheels of a car using an ICE? How much load would there be on the power grid to charge cars over night? How far can you get on a charge up car before you are out of luck? how long will it take to recharge that car?

      This tech allows for the efficiency of electric cars on the road in terms of power that reaches the road, easy refueling, unlimited range, and no power grid impact.

      Even though the energy conversion is not perfect, it is a better product that what we have on teh roa

  • Any way you burn coal, the result is CO2

    We may have enough coal to last us a thousand years, but nowhere on the planet would be inhabitable by then.

    • Did you mean nowhere on the planet would be habitable, or everywhere on the planet would be inhabitable? "in-" is a negative prefix.

      • by mevets (322601) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:41AM (#36568568)

        "in-" is a negative prefix.

        I was going to mod you in-sightful ; but I doubt anyone would get the joke.

        Are you in genius, in competent, in capable... - BB.

        • Ingenious has no prefix, nor does insightful, because they are not modifying genius or sight. They are ingenuity and insight. One of them does have a suffix, though...

          • by osu-neko (2604)
            "Inhabit" has no prefix, either.
          • by mevets (322601)

            Would injest be a prefix?

            • Yes. Look at the etymology of the word. A Jester is a joke teller. To jest is to be joking, To injest would be to not be joking.

              As in: I do not injest; I've ingested poison!

          • Ingenious has no prefix, nor does insightful, because they are not modifying genius or sight. They are ingenuity and insight. One of them does have a suffix, though...

            I believe you take the words to mean the incorrect things.

            For example: sight and insight. The former deals with vision, the second deals with things invisible...
            To be insightful you have to comprehend things that can not be seen on the surface. An insightful person can see beyond, into the inner workings of things. A sightful person would be one who has much sight.

            genius and ingenious: the former relates to things requiring higher levels of thought than average, the latter deals with things that any

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Any way you burn coal, the result is CO2

      We may have enough coal to last us a thousand years, but nowhere on the planet would be inhabitable by then.

      You must be new to this planet. We've had much higher amounts of circulating carbon. How do you think the coal was formed?

      • by mevets (322601)

        I'm a very big supporter of bringing back a favourable climate for dinosaurs and such.

        I saw a documentary once where they experimented with genetically reviving dinosaur DNA; and it looked pretty cool. If we made a more hospitable climate for them, maybe it could work in the future.

        In the past, people used to keep them as pets, and bbq'd brontosauruses; that would be cool too. This time round, we would still have the oil from the 1st Gen Dino's; so we wouldn't need those foot powered cars.

        Lets get burni

  • Did anyone else read the headline as "New Princess Allows Fuel Cells To Run On Coal"? Though I suspect she's in another castle.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @10:36AM (#36568524) Journal
    but, will it require that the coal be clean FIRST? If so that will be difficult. But if all it emits is CO2, and water, that is not that bad. This is then no different than running natural gas, so that at large plants, the CO2 can be directed into the ground.
  • by Rhinobird (151521) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:06AM (#36568812) Homepage

    Whatever happened to just carbon fuel cells?

    from 2005: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7891-coalpowered-fuel-cell-aims-for-efficiency.html [newscientist.com]

    and some unknown date: https://www.llnl.gov/str/June01/Cooper.html [llnl.gov]

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Your article just talks about a battery, plain and simple. The carbon acts as one of the electrodes and the reducing agent. Generally, carbon is used as an electrode when one of the substances used in the battery is water-soluble (as carbon is notoriously difficult to oxidize or reduce). Here, the article states that they're actually oxidizing carbon -- stealing away electrons from it. I don't see how that would work, honestly, but that's probably a deficiency of my chemically-oriented education. I would se

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 25, 2011 @11:19AM (#36568938)

    This is nothing really new. Back in the Late 1970's and early 1980 I was part of a team at SRI international that used Bituminous coal as the fuel source for a molten Carbonate fuel cell that ran at near 500 deg C. The eutectic combination of Sodium Potassium and Lithium Carbonate would absorb the Sulfur, and ash content of the Bituminous coal. I found that series 300 stainless steal would form a very nice passivation layer as long as there was some oxygen around inside the fuel cell, so the cell could be contained in relatively cheap 316 steel. The molten carbonate would need to be cleaned every so often to remove the sulfur, and other solid ash from the coal. The output of the fuel cell was about 1.2 volts, and pure CO2. The only processing of the bituminous coal that was necessary was to solidify the bituminous coal into an electrode with a wire mesh of conductive wire that would not be corroded by the molten carbonate at 500 degree C. NO GASIFICATION WAS REQUIRED. from our experiments the fuel cell plant would have an overall efficiency of about 35 - 40% which is much higher than coal burning plants, plus all the sulfur, and ash would be contained in the molten carbonate rather tan spewed into the atmosphere. The project was killed when the Government deemed in the early 1980's that we were beyond the research stage, and the team at SRI international and EPRI could not find funding for a pilot plant operations. if you are interested in furthering this project, you just need to look for papers with the authrs of Robert Weaver, Steven Leach and/or Michael McKubre. There are papers in the EPRI archives, as SRI international reports and in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.

    The problem with Gasification is the SULFUR, and the FLY ASH from the coal. SULFUR KILLS Fuel cells that use most catalyst , and fly ash is the BIGGEST issue with coal burning plants. I wish this tam all the best in commercializing this process, but I also know that while this process will be more efficient than using steam conversion teh biggest issue will be the SULFUR and Fly ASH.
    GOOD LUCK and may the US Government and the big power cartel treat you better than they treated our team.

    • Are you using the 300 stainless as a container for the electrolyte or the air electrode? What about the 316 stainless? I'd love to make one of these as an experiment. I'd also like to see what you think about the idea of using charcoal instead of coal for this system? Thanks for posting this. I've been reading this old research. Please get an account here so more people can read your posts!
  • Neat, but not New (Score:4, Informative)

    by coffeegoat (1751644) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @12:06PM (#36569436)

    These guys are working on a new SOFC catalyst that will allow them to run gasified coal at lower temperatures without running into problems with coking. The basic idea is to gasify coal and then use internal reforming (a standard benefit of SOFC technology) to reform the hydrocarbons into CO and H2 which can be used directly as fuels. The new part is that this new catalyst is capable of running at lower temperatures without seeing a buildup of carbon, generally this is a problem that is solved by higher temperatures/power densities (which causes faster degradation) or more steam injection (more water needed).

    The problem itself was the entire goal of the SECA program in the US because there is so much coal, and this gets better efficiency than just burning it normally. However, it looks like funding is on the way out for these programs, fossil fuel guys don't like fuel cells and vice versa. Most of the big players, GE, Siemens, etc have already bailed.

    Some companies that use similar technology: Versa Power (US & Canada), Bloom Energy (US), Staxera (GE), Ceres Power (UK), CFCL (AU) and others

  • Coal is a hydrocarbon whose molecular structure means it has more carbon in it per amount of energy extractable than does, for example, crude oil.

    Coal has roughly twice as much carbon.

    Using coal for energy produces roughly twice as much CO2 as using oil, which is bad enough.

    If you had really effective sequestration, maybe this could work, but sequestration is really, really expensive, still basically untested for long-term storage ability, and no where near 100 percent effective.

    Leave the coal in the ground

    • We need some form of energy to sustain us until other sources of energy such as solar and/or wind become practical. I welcome any innovation that will improve that possibility and this sounds like a potentially relevant advancement that could allow things like hydrogen fuel cell technology to mature.

      If you are willing to live a life that in no way utilizes energy from fossil fuels I'll take your perspective seriously...
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        We need some form of energy to sustain us until other sources of energy such as solar and/or wind become practical.

        No, we need coal or similar to sustain our GREED etc etc. We COULD support a modern, industrial society with solar and wind in a VERY short time if only we actually spent the effort developing the production capacity. Solar cells paid back the cost of their production in under seven years in the 1970s and thin film panels can get in under three years today. If we had started building these plants in the 1970s then we could be in a much better position today. However, there is more money in releasing CO2 to

        • by Arlet (29997)

          Solar and wind are pretty useless as an automotive fuel, unless you have much better batteries. Developing better batteries is not an engineering problem that only needs a bunch of money to solve. It needs Nobel-worthy scientific breakthroughs that are usually the result of messing around with something else, and muttering "hmm.. that's funny...".

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Solar and wind are pretty useless as an automotive fuel, unless you have much better batteries.

            Better than what? People having to commute so far is just another one of those problems caused by greed. We should structure our society such that people can live close to work, and then we don't need cars at all; there goes a sizable slice of our energy consumption and pollution. Reduce the number of goods that are made in other countries which can be made in your own country but which aren't simply to improve someone's profit ratio, and we can reduce the number of container ships running around. Build stu

            • by Arlet (29997)

              Greed is a basic human instinct. Any plan that ignores that will be doomed to fail. Except for a tiny minority, everybody will seek as much comfort in their lives as they can get away with.

              And even ignoring greed, restructuring current society such that we can all live close to work is not really realistic on a short timescale. It's grown too big for that. You'll need a plan that involves a series of gradual modifications, which is feasible every step of the way.

              we have EVs which will go 100 miles on a char

            • by jeppen (1377103)
              You're an American, right? Most Americans seem to ignore the rest of the world... Problem is, for the most part, coal and oil use is about quite basic necessities and basic civilisation. It may be called "greed" for a chindian to want a nice house, 24/7 electricity, a productive job and a modern life for himself and his family, but I would rather frame such ambitions in a bit more positive light. Making rich people poor and making it harder for corporations or limiting US urban sprawl may make a small dent
              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                In no particular order; I am an American, but I think we need to converge on "one solution" for the whole world, which is to say, whatever is appropriate for each region and culture inhabiting it that will enable us to go forward without further destroying our habitat. To me that means some sort of heavily ecologically-oriented system such as "bioregionalism". What it particularly does not include is more ridiculous excuses for nuclear plants like the ones which dominate the landscape today.

                I am not actuall

                • by jeppen (1377103)
                  No, there is definitely not any storage tech that is feasible to fix the intermittency. Flywheels? So, we should add some 50,000 tonnes of flywheels to each wind turbine to ensure two weeks of storage? You are utterly against reactors that do not fail safely? There is no such thing as absolute safety and it is beyond me why anybody should ask for it. It should suffice that nuclear, on average, does little harm per TWh. Bioregionalism? Me, I reject any solution that is not based on monetizing environmental
                  • by drinkypoo (153816)

                    You are utterly against reactors that do not fail safely? There is no such thing as absolute safety

                    Which is why I didn't ask for it. What I want is reactors which, in the absence of maintenance power, SHUT THEMSELVES DOWN rather than melting down like Fukushima Daiichi. Several such designs exist but they are underutilized.

                    Bioregionalism? Me, I reject any solution that is not based on monetizing environmental costs and then letting the market do its thing.

                    Right, because that's working so well for us right now.

                    The answer to our problems is NOT about being less efficient or putting up artificial barriers to cooperation.

                    Designing factories to be asynchronous and to use the power when it is most available instead of running power plants we're not even using all night and simply wasting fuel and producing CO2 would be MORE efficient, not less. Using

                    • by jeppen (1377103)
                      Fukushima did shut down when the quake hit. The core melted anyway, due to heat from spontaneous decay of fission products. It's hard to avoid this - whatever fission tech you employ, the fission process produce short-lived isotopes that decays and thus produce heat. The key in gen3 plants is passive cooling, that works by gravity and convection.
                      Yes, the market works extremely well, and when external costs are internalized, the market will optimize that too.
                      Asynchronous factories sounds like a really ba
                    • by drinkypoo (153816)

                      Fukushima did shut down when the quake hit. The core melted anyway, due to heat from spontaneous decay of fission products. It's hard to avoid this - whatever fission tech you employ, the fission process produce short-lived isotopes that decays and thus produce heat. The key in gen3 plants is passive cooling, that works by gravity and convection.

                      I don't care if it's "hard", I want it to work. Hitachi claims their cute little reactor will fail safely, for example.

                      Sorry, but the "cooperating on making the earth unlivable" and saying that China is about "slavery" is not only stupid, it is anti-civilisatory and downright evil.

                      No, the continuance of organized slavery for profit is what is evil. In China they have prison labor camps. In this country we just have privatized prisons and bullshit laws designed to fill them. When someone pays taxes in the USA they are funding this incarceration for profit. When you buy goods from China you are doing the same.

                      Free trade has been lifting hundreds of million Chinese from absolute poverty into a decent middle-class life.

                      There is no free trade. There is, in fact, no such thing. Bu

                    • by jeppen (1377103)
                      As I said, fission produces short-lived isotopes in proportion to the energy delivered. If you want to generate a lot of energy, you are going to generate a lot of fission products. If these fission products aren't somehow continuously extracted and distributed (diluted), they will be present in amounts that need cooling. Perhaps the LFTR design can handle this, but I don't really care. To me, passive cooling is good enough. If it isn't for you, then by all means add to the protest choir that leaves the fie
            • What you call greed most people call survival or living life. You seem to think that re-ordering the entire world will be fast and easy with no negative consequences. Just the re-allocation of labor would create massive problems. If fixing the energy problem was easy don't you think we would have made more headway then we have? Saying it is greedy corporations that won't allow new energy resources ignores the simple fact that those profiting from the oil and coal supplies can continue to make the same if no
    • Exponential growth in wind and solar deployment suggests we may have a period of excess capacity just as happened with nuclear power in the 1980's. However, there is no reason not to find a use for the generation since there is no fuel cost. For pure CO2 streams such as one gets from cement production, it may be worthwhile to strip the oxygen away to produce either a stockpilable fuel or a soil amendment that sequesters the carbon. Most fuel cells will run backwards with electric input so this technology
  • This sounds like it has the potential to replace coal burning power plants that refuse to switch to another fuel. Outside of that, I don't see wider use of coal as a fuel as a good solution. Extracting it does more carbon harm than any other fuel source I can think of.

What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind. -- Thomas Hewitt Key, 1799-1875

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