Guest post by David Archibald
Robert Hargraves lives in Hanover, New Hampshire. Mr Hargraves believes that “Global warming is harming us all.” Using the temperature – solar cycle length relationship from Friis-Christensen and Lassen theory, for cycles 24 and 25, this is what Nature has in store for Hanover, New Hampshire:
So the coming years will be a severe test of his faith in the State-sponsored belief system.
In the meantime, he has done the World a good service by writing a book which describes why Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs) are the solution to maintaining a high standard of living when the fossil fuels run out.
He starts the book by describing the basic physics of energy and then goes on to rehash IPCC material on global warming. Sometimes authors let slip, by their pronouncements, that they don’t have a good grip on the physical world. One of the better examples of that in Mr Hargraves’ case is this passage, ”Changes to life in the ocean will also be dire. Ocean life thrives in cold water; Caribbean water is blue and clear because it has less life than temperate and polar oceans.” Brian Fagin is another warmer author who betrays a lack of understanding of the physical world; in a number of his books he has describes arrow heads as weighing 1 kg. At any rate, on reading this sort of thing, the reader is alerted to not take any statement as being necessarily true.
The useful part of the book begins on page 115 with a discussion of the costs of existing energy sources – coal-fired power at 5.6 cents/kWh using coal at $45 per tonne and natural gas-based power at 4.8 cents/kWh using natural gas at $5/MBTU. Wind is far more expensive at 18.4 cents/kWh. Using pumped hydro storage to pacify it for the grid would add at least another 6 cents/kWh. Solar power is much the same cost at 23.5 cents/kWh.
Discussion of nuclear power begins in Chapter 5 on page 176. LFTRs will operate by having neutrons from the reactor core irradiate thorium in a blanket, converting it to fissile U233. That U233 is periodically rinsed from the blanket salt and fed to the core. Power from LFTRs is expected to cost of the order of 3 cents per kWh all up. The LFTRs will need a starter fuel at the rate of 1 kg per MW. The best source of that is the more than 72,000 tonnes of spent fuel rods that has accumulated in the US. That contains at least 648 tonnes of plutonium which is enough to start more than 3,000 200 MW reactors. Those spent fuel rods that have accumulated over the decades are a precious resource.
There is an interesting section on China’s LFTR project starting on page 260. China’s interest was triggered by an article in July 2010 in American Scientist. A delegation visited Oak Ridge National Laboratories where molten salt reactor work was done in the mid-1960s. The Chinese LFTR project was announced at a meeting of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in January 2011. Oak Ridge had 1,894 Chinese visitors in 2011! The project currently employs 432 people, expected to rise to 750 in 2015. A working 2 MW (t) reactor is expected by 2017 and a 10 MW (e) by 2020. The Chinese reaction to that July 2010 article reminds me of John Boyd’s OODA loop. There was a mere six months between reading an article and committing to a major new thrust in nuclear research. The contrast between that and the billions spent in the West on recreating medieval fear and superstition, and calling it climate science, could not be more stark.
This book is also comprehensive. A section on synthetic liquid fuels and how they might be made using nuclear power starts on page 355. It is realised that sources of carbon might become so scarce that the cheapest source might be carbon dioxide extracted from the atmosphere. A scheme to do that is illustrated on page 361. This is ironic in a book that asserts that carbon dioxide is the scourge of Mankind.
King Hubbert, of peak oil fame, realised that Mankind’s fossil fuel use would only be a blip in time and that the future, of necessity, will be nuclear-powered. This is Figure 30 from his 1956 paper “Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels”:
Mr Hargraves’ book has updated that insight and added flesh to the bones of the idea. His book is a useful addition to the comity. He is also to be lauded for self-publishing it. My edition is simply marked “Made in the USA; Lexington, KY; 09 September 2012”. The book’s website is: www.thoriumenergycheaperthancoal.com It can be purchased from Amazon.
Below is a video describing the concept. Long, but informative – Anthony