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Power United States Technology

10% of US Energy Derived From Old Soviet Nukes 213

Nrbelex writes "The New York Times reports that about 10 percent of electricity generated in the United States comes from fuel from dismantled nuclear bombs, mostly Russian. 'It's a great, easy source' of fuel, said Marina V. Alekseyenkova, an analyst at Renaissance Bank and an expert in the Russian nuclear industry that has profited from the arrangement since the end of the cold war. But if more diluted weapons-grade uranium isn't secured soon, the pipeline could run dry, with ramifications for consumers, as well as some American utilities and their Russian suppliers.'"
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10% of US Energy Derived From Old Soviet Nukes

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  • Reprocessing (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @12:57PM (#30047424)

    Time to reprocess. The reasons the US doesn't are not really valid.

  • by jocks ( 56885 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @01:04PM (#30047560) Homepage

    Right up until now I thought US foreign policy was extremely poor. I feel I must apologise for thinking that, in fact US foreign policy is an act of unparalleled genius! North Korea is being largely ignored by the US as is Iran, not because they are not dangerous (they are) but you are simply employing them to gather enough nulear armaments together that you will later use to generate power, whilst silmutaneously reducing your dependency on fossil fuel and also creating world stabalisation. Outstanding work, forward thinking and downright cunning. I salute you!

  • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @03:31PM (#30050062)

    Well the Germans and Japanese in WWII inadvertently turned the US into a global power. And the Chinese have put billion into T bills to keep the dollar strong and their currency weak to keep America importing. Still if the US inflates its way out of the debt they'll effectively lose that money. Even better the Chinese political system is much more vulnerable to economic pain than the American one. It's quite possible that when the US stops importing the Chinese political system may change rapidly into a more liberal one, much like economic pain forced liberalisation onto the USSR. In fact, you suspect, into one not unlike America, given how fond most rich Chinese people are of the obtaining US residency.

    That's the benefit of a well designed political system (compared to the competitors listed at least). People keep trying to attack you because you're a ninja, and you can dodge out of the way and they end up hurting themselves. Because you're a ninja.

  • by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @04:56PM (#30051244) Homepage Journal

    >>So the solution to the energy problems we face

    We have energy problems? I guess we did have rolling brownouts a while back here in California, but California has had its collective head up its butt for a long time when it comes to power infrastructure.

    And no, I'm serious. There's no real looming crisis when it comes to power. Even if we move to a completely carbon neutral energy grid, it'll raise prices by about 50% across the board if we stick with coal, but would remain around the same if we start switching more to nuclear.

    Since making a statement like that tends to draw out the Greens on Slashdot, I'll post the prices of different sources of energy. I looked at four different sources:, a tidal power company survey of power costs, the California Energy Commission study on what wholesale prices would be for new plants built today, and the Federal DoE energy costs estimates. There's quite a bit of discrepancy between the four sources, so I'll give the range of prices between the four.

    There's also subsidies and carbon/social cost adjustments, which I'll also list.

    Summarizing from cheapest to most expensive:
    1) Coal (currently 49% of our power production): 3.15c to 9.4c/KWH. Carbon Capture or Reduction systems raise the price to around 10c to 12c/KWH.

    2) Natural Gas (20% of current production): 4.95c to 9.15c/KWH. Produces half the CO2 of coal. Carbon Capture or Reduction raises the price to 8c - 11.5c/KWH.

    3) Nuclear (19% of current production): 2.16c - 11.5c/KWH. No CO2 production. Price includes decommissioning and lawsuit costs. Federal subsidies knock about 1c/KWH off. Actual wholesale costs from existing plants runs around 4c/KWH these days.

    4) Hydro (7% of current production): 8.7c to 19.5c/KWH. No CO2 production. Federal subsidies knock off about 2c/KWH. Dams have recently become non-politically correct, with some being dynamited to free up fish runs.

    5) Oil (1.7% of current production): Roughly twice as much as natural gas, but prices have fluctuated massively in the last few years. Mainly used as a power backstop. Also puts some pressure on consumer fuel costs.

    6) Biofuel (0.93% of current production): 7.5c - 20c/KWH. No CO2 production, but produces other pollutants. Federal subsidies are large, knocking the price to 5c-15c/KWH for biofuel. Can put pressure on consumer food costs if they do something stupid like burning edible food products for power. (Braindead plans like Ethanol.)

    7) Wind (0.78% of current production): 6.5c - 14.1c/KWH. Offshore adds another 5c-10c/KWH. No CO2 production. Wind farms run into NIMBY resistance from people like the late Sen. Kennedy (who didn't want offshore wind near his estate because it'd ruin the view - what a great environmentalist, no?) Subsidies would knock the price from 13.9c/KWH to 9.9c/KWH, so it's likely the low end estimates (which came from the hippie sources) already include the subsidies.

    8) Metropolitan Solid Waste (0.4% of current production): 6.5c - 8.6c/KWH. No CO2 production. Somewhat limited sources of fuel. Subsidies reduce price to 5.4c/KWH.

    9) Geothermal (0.36% of current production): 5.5c - 13c/KWH. No CO2 production. Somewhat limited sources. Federal subsidies knock the 13c/KWH price to 9c/KWH. (It's likely the 5.5c price from the Hippie groups include the subsidies already.)

    10) Solar (0.03% of current production): 12c - 98c/KWH; discarding high and low: around 18c - 39c/KWH (counting subsidies, 36c-60c/KWH or so without). No CO2 production. Sierra Club has been blocking development of solar power in deserts for environmental reasons.

    11) Wave Power (~0% of current production): 6.5c - 137c/KWH. Note the 6.5c estimate came from a wave power company. The 137c estimate came from the State of California's estimated costs of actually building one. No CO2 production. Some people dislike tidal power plants.

    Knowledge is power. Hopefully, with these numbers out there (which, again, were drawn half from hippie sources, and half fr

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @04:59PM (#30051302) Homepage Journal

    Looks like the main drawback is the liquid sodium coolant, because sodium is so reactive. What other metals might work?

    It's reactive if you let it out. We know how to handle liquid sodium.

    Otherwise, I don't see a downside here, at least not compared to traditional reactors. If there is one, someone kindly pipe up.

    It's nookulur. Clinton defunded it with one of his first executive orders, and Gore and Kerry lead the fight to kill it in the Congress the next year. At the time the speculation was it was payback to environmental lobbyists - Sierra Club is against anything nuclear, for instance.

  • Re:Gotta wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by icegreentea ( 974342 ) on Wednesday November 11, 2009 @01:13AM (#30056440)
    Not only is there a bunch of helium in the upper atmosphere, helium's mass means that most helium molecules end up achieving escape velocity and just leave the atmosphere completely. There were some 'omgs running out of helium' articles a bit ago on slashdot.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN