Electricity in the realm of the Lion King

Small Modular Reactors, especially Pebble Bed Modular Reactors, are Africa’s best future

Dr. Kelvin Kemm

Hydro power is a good way to generate electricity. In most political circles, it is considered environment-friendly because it does not produce carbon dioxide, and it is not complicated. Norway has extensive hydro and can claim to have very green energy, which Norwegians do.

Hydro is wonderful, in fact – if you have the water. Norway’s hydro dams are constructed between rather vertical rock walls, which form the famous Norwegian fjords and tower above Norwegian valleys. Many of these geological formations are permanently topped with ice and snow, which constantly melts into reservoirs behind the dams, and is supplemented by regular rainfall, keeping water supplies plentiful and the water height and volume essentially constant.

Africa is different, and its electricity supply challenges are quite monumental. The continent is larger than the USA, China, India and Europe combined. The standard common flat map projection is based on Europe for historical reasons, and does not adequately portray the true size of Africa.

Many African countries have very little electricity, and again a major challenge is their size. South Africa alone is the size of all Western Europe. The distance from its capital city Pretoria to its southernmost city Cape Town is equal to that from Rome to London, or New York to Milwaukee.

Many African countries are less than 20% electrified, some only 10% electrified. Some 700 million Africans still have no electricity or have it only a few hours a week, at totally unpredictable times. Many African countries also rely heavily on hydro power; in fact quite a few are 100% hydro. That is environmentally and politically great, except for those who hate damming rivers. But there is a snag.

African hydroelectric systems tend to involve very wide, flat expanses of water, and many African countries are rather dry. So evaporation off their reservoir surfaces is dramatic. The only way their reservoirs are filled is from periodic rainfall, not constant ice and snow runoff. Rainfall can be really “periodic,” and water levels can fall quickly when prolonged drought conditions set in.

In South Africa, large dams are built to accommodate droughts of up to five years. A year ago a number of South African dams were down to 15% of capacity. Cape Town started preparing for a drinking water emergency. Thankfully enough rains came just in time to stave off real trouble.

In South Africa the issue involved drinking water, more than electricity, because South Africa has a relatively small percentage of hydro-power. But as the moment, Zimbabwe’s large Kariba Dam is only 25% full and it is very important for Zimbabwean electricity production. They are very worried.

Many African leaders have very wisely said they cannot possibly continue to base 21st Century economies on African hydro-power. Mother Nature cannot be cajoled into arranging for more rain.

Another problem with expanding African hydro-power is that all the cheapest sites were used first. For hydro, one has to build dams where it is possible to dam a geological feature to create the dam. Due to Africa’s size, each potential new site is very much further away from consumers. Many also provide major engineering challenges, due to the lack of Norwegian-style fjord rock walls.

Coal. South Africa is blessed with huge quantities of coal, and is a major coal exporter. Coal moves continuously by rail to a port where it is loaded onto ships by automatic systems that pick entire railway trucks up and tip them upside-down. Most African countries, however, have no coal, oil or natural gas. Turning them from 20% electrified to, say, 75% electrified is extremely challenging.

The energy minister of a landlocked African country recently told me that, if they imported coal from South Africa, the only way to do it would be by overland rail, across vast distances. Making matters even worse, the train would have to cross four international borders. Those distances and political risks make coal imports out of the question. The same arguments apply to oil and gas imports through incredibly long pipelines, or by road tankers. The geographical and political risks are just too great.

Solar. Some enthusiasts loudly advocate solar and wind power, noting that much of Africa has good conditions for solar power. However, one still cannot escape the glaring reality that you get solar only part of the day, and get zero at night. You also get next-to-nothing when it rains, or when daytimes are cloudy. Dust on the solar panels knocks out a substantial portion of their electrical output. An enthusiastic European vendor may advise you to just wash the panels regularly. Europeans use automatic water washers. Simple! But Africa has no water to spray daily onto solar panels.

Much of Africa is also prone to violent storms. Hail can sweep over an area, or great winds can blow for several hours. Violent African storms usually last only a very short time, but time enough to wipe out, or badly damage, a huge array of solar panels.

There are undoubtedly special applications for solar: in remote areas or to provide power to users who only need it during lunchtime. But powering a national solar grid to reach 75% of your people is another story, and producing one megawatt of solar power requires an area the size of a football field.

Wind power faces similar issues. Wind turbines have to be placed where there is sufficient wind. That can be far from the consumer. Wind is intermittent and seasonal. Handling intermittent power on a grid that needs stable power is a constant control nightmare. Wind enthusiasts say, if you put in enough turbines, thousands of them, the wind is always blowing somewhere. That’s not always true.

Meteorological data show that wind incidence patterns tend to vary greatly over very large areas thousands of kilometres across, covering multiple countries. Low wind over the whole area is not only possible, but likely. Turbines kill birds and bats, by the thousands. With both wind and solar, one gets locked into foreign suppliers for raw materials, finished products and much of the maintenance.

Nuclear power is the world’s future. Nuclear has a few inherent disadvantages. It is without doubt the cleanest, greenest and safest form of power production. Contrary to what you may have heard about the Fukushima nuclear plant that was hit by the 2011 tsunami, not one single person was killed or injured by nuclear radiation. Not one. Also, no private property was harmed by radiation.

Another major advantage of nuclear power is that it uses so little fuel. The total annual fuel usage of even a large nuclear plant can be carried in a couple of trucks. It can be airlifted-in, if need be. There is no need for long supply lines, which can be prone to weather or political disruptions. Nuclear reactors are refuelled only every 18 months.

Critics say nuclear is expensive. It’s not if you look at the total life cycle. A modern reactor is designed to last for 60 years and will probably last for 80 – versus 15-20 for wind turbines and solar panels. While money must be spent upfront in construction, benefits are reaped over many decades. What is required is an innovative approach to the project-cycle funding. Right now in South Africa, nuclear-generated electricity is the cheapest by far. The current nuclear plant, Koeberg, is over 30 years old and is now running very profitably, since the construction costs have been paid off.

Another plus is that the price of uranium is almost irrelevant. Such a little amount of uranium is used in a nuclear plant that even if the international uranium price were to double, it would make extremely little difference to the annual fuel bill. It is nothing like a variation in coal or oil prices.

Large-scale nuclear needs water cooling, which means plants must be built on a coastline or on a large inland water source. But big nuclear is probably too large for many nations to start with. There is a second solution: SMR-class Small Modular Reactors that are currently being developed. South Africa’s SMR is the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor – and a small PBMR can be only 10% the size of a large traditional reactor. A PBMR does not need large water cooling, so you can place it anywhere.

In fact, close to the point of consumption is no problem. “Modular” means that you can add extra reactors to the initial system, as you wish or need, when you wish or need. It’s something like adding extra locomotives to a large train, all controlled by one driver.

PBMRs are also considerably cheaper than large reactors. So, a very viable answer for any African country is to plan for PBMR nuclear systems. One PBMR reactor will produce 100 to 200 Megawatts, depending on its design. As the country requires more power, it simply installs more PMBRs.

An important consideration with nuclear power in Africa is for countries to work together. Africa needs a nuclear network for operations, training and general nuclear development. In the spirit of Fourth Industrial Revolution thinking, now is the time to plan an African nuclear network. Thankfully a number of African countries have already launched that process.

Dr Kelvin Kemm of Pretoria, South Africa is a nuclear physicist, CEO of the project management company Nuclear Africa (Pty) Ltd, and consultant on strategic development of various industries.

203 thoughts on “Electricity in the realm of the Lion King

  1. MSRs are the way forward with low pressure, high heat safety. No need to build 2,000-atmosphere steam bomb enclosures. Check out Seaborg.co

  2. Doesn’t help that most of the rulers of those counties with little or no electricity are truly corrupt. And of course that number doesn’t include them.

    • You’ve just hit the actual problem. If not for the dictators, there might already be fossil fueled power and development of affluence. The greens should switch from “saving the world from too many people”, to “saving the world from a few evil people”. If not for those in power there, the world’s population might have already peaked.

  3. Dr. Kelvin Kemm

    “But as at the moment, Zimbabwe’s large Kariba Dam is only 25% full and it is very important for Zimbabwean electricity production. “

    • not exactly.
      Fuel can be supplied and recycled by less third world countries and its extremely difficult even with weapons grade plutonium to extract it and also to make a bomb.

      Sadly the S African pebble bed project has run out of funds as Eskom is bust essentially and it probably never will see the light of day

      It doesn’t detract from the main argument that Africa needs nuclear power, done simply and mass produced if possible locally.

      • Not just Africa. We could all use more nuclear. There’s a long history of small reactors in the U.S. in our submarine fleet. It’s a travesty we won’t use this proven technology because of the irrational fears of an uneducated public.

        • F.LEGHORN
          “Dirty bombs” with conventional explosives are of little tactical value. They are largely of value to terrorists who could substitute chemical toxins or biological agents in place of radioactive materials.

      • Not correct at all. The hydroelectrical potential of the Congo River and tributaries can power the whole of southern Africa below the equator. Coupled with wind on the west coast and the best solar power region on the planet in Botswana there is zero need for fossil fuels or nuclear. This was studied and reported on more the seven decades back.

        Dr. Kemm’s OpEd was not well researched at all and looks like he copied his kids’ high school project. A poor shill attempt for nuclear. Western world style electricity generation and distribution don’t work for the poor. Solar with battery does – the continent is full of innovations and rental schemes that are cheaper than buying candles or kerosene. China is putting Africa on its feet while the west just watches as development passes them by. Today’s African leaders are no worse than the fat lazy orange lying Trump when it comes to criminal and illegal behavior. Many are better.

        • You obviously missed the point about crossing International borders. Transmission losses over the distance and the lack of stable neighbours relegates your idea to the “silly child” category.

          • JohnB having worked on the project 40 or more years back I can assure you that you are wrong. Look up the papers written by Dr. Des Midgely of University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. Transmission lines already crisscross many borders because Eskom is the baseload feeder for southern Africa and the Zambezi river already has three hydro stations on it. An added bonus in Namibia and Griqualand on the west coast of Africa has the most environmentally secure nuclear waste disposal site that can accommodate all the world’s waste as another revenue stream if the politics of shipping first world waste to Africa could be resolved. Politics of the region is stable with SADC, an EU style confederation between 14 countries that is already in place.

          • Rob, what was adequate 40 years ago is not guaranteed to work now when it comes to electrical generation, or any other aspect of infrastructure. I learned that in a career of public facility management. The last four decades have seen more population (therefore demand) increase in Africa than almost anywhere else.

        • “Western world style electricity generation and distribution don’t work for the poor.”

          The poor don’t need reliable, affordable electricity? Would you be happy with intermittent, unpredictable power that comes and goes?

          • Economics – they can’t afford the monthly energy. This is resolved with pay-as-you-need meters with recharge cards like a credit card that can be renewed and loaded at almost any retail outlet and bank. Living on $2-4/day doesn’t leave much for electricity. Food and communications come first. Unemployment runs 40 – 100%. Solar panel energy is far more affordable and gives the user via cell phone activation for a couple of pennies, light for the night and recharging of EDs and maybe some small pumps, etc. This removes using candles and kerosene and generators (less carbon dioxide) and is healthier. FYI: charge meters are loaded in all new construction in most parts of Africa along with mandated hot water solar heaters which avoid sending bills and collecting payments.

        • Western world style electricity generation and distribution don’t work for the poor. Solar with battery does

          Uh huh.

      • “The biggest problem for nuclear is the possibility of making weapons grade material.”

        Very much wrong. The country has to be capable of separating different isotopes, U235 from U38, and Pu239 from all the other isotopes of plutonium. None of these are simple tasks, and all require large industrial infrastructure which cannot be hidden.

        • Using thorium in a molten salt reactor (MSR), plutonium is not a byproduct. Oak Ridge had a functioning thorium reactor in the 50s and 60s. The government/ military wanted the plutonium for weapons so they went forward with the much more complex high pressure water reactor with plutonium as a byproduct and nuclear waste with half life of tens of thousands of years >>> yucca mountain

    • If a state actor wants to build a nuclear weapon it can do so without a foreign manufactured modular reactor being supplied. Such a power reactor isn’t a necessary starting point or ending point. The same skills and knowledge needed to build a reactor will need to be found to complete other steps in the process of building a bomb. There is a lot to be done to make a nuke and it is hard to hide nowadays.

      No.. the biggest problem for nuclear, is a scenario like the recent Aramco bombing in Saudi Arabia.
      However, that might be dealt with by building below ground which brings you back to the a seriously strong enclosure or expensive to build underground facilities.

      • One needn’t have a power reactor at all. Natural uranium and heavy water (easily obtained, “easily” produced if one has a lot of patience) are all that are required. Just build a big enough pile, and run a chain reaction for a long period of time. Then dissolve the uranium and chemically extract the plutonium 239. You have a lot to figure out to transform that material into a bomb, but it’s way easier than enriching uranium to weapons-grade U-235. Frankly, I’m glad that foreign countries sold Iran a bill of goods on uranium enrichment via ultra-centrifuge. It’s great for producing 20% U-235, which in turn is great for fueling ship-board nuclear reactors – but not bombs. Getting to 80% from there is not very simple, and that’s about what you’d need for a Hiroshima-type weapon. And though Little Boy looked simple, it was anything but. It weighed 18,000 pounds for a reason – actually, several reasons, none of them easy to deal with. Getting to the 95+% U-235 level is very difficult, but that’s where you need to be for a simpler, lighter weapon. Iran will be spinning its wheels for some time to come.

        • Very expensive. The world isn’t populated with CANDUs for a reason. You make weapons grade plutonium in specialized reactors run for short sprints. They generally don’t use heavy water. Running the reactor for prolonged periods of time gives you far too much 240Pu to make a bomb.

          • You could definitely make weapons grade plutonium with a heavy-water (CANDU) type reactor, which is why we blew up the heavy water plants in Norway during WW-II (the big one – it was in all the papers). The Germans hadn’t figured out how to make pure enough graphite to serve as moderator, while Enrico Fermi had several candidate solutions (my favorite was dry ice, which is even cheaper than heavy water).

    • commieBob
      The concern over theft of enriched uranium is what caused Carter to ban recycling of spent fuel. That decision has been a major drag on the US nuclear power industry. Yet, France continued to recycle its fuel for decades with no issues. The US ban hasn’t prevented Iran from enriching fuel. Similarly, Iraq may have been trying to produce weapons grade material without access to spent fuel in the US. Carter’s excuse is a non-problem best used as the premise for a Hollywood thriller complete with lots of sub-machine guns and bad guys dressed in black. Where is James Bond when you need him?

    • Actually the biggest problem will be allowing these developing nations to operate and maintain these productions facilities reliably and safely. Do they have the sufficient personnel to accomplish this? Or, are they going to submit to ‘imperialist’ control over their energy sector?

    • The biggest problem with commercial reactors is that they DO NOT use more highly enriched uranium and need to be refueled every 18 months. Your comment reflects the main narrative for anti nuclear movement and the reason uranium enriched to a low level is used.

      The new Ford class Aircraft Carrier reactors will only need refueling at 25 years. If that was the case for commercial reactors, the waste materials would not be continuously available as currently with constant refueling and removal of “spent” fuel. At a 25 year cycle, refueling could be done by “qualified, organizations” which would be able to secure the spent fuel for reprocessing. Proper design and control of the necessary components to remove the fuel would would restrict the ability of bad guys to get the bad stuff. Refueling needs to be difficult and dangerous requiring a high level of training and knowledge so as to make it prohibitively dangerous for rogue actors to go after the materials.

      BTW, how did N Korea and Pakistan and India and South Africa and Israel and? and? get atom bombs? It is not THAT hard, where minor and underdeveloped countries can develop nuclear weapons when they decide to invest the resources, and they are everywhere. Iran next?

        • The reactor powers everything on the small floating city, it has constant power demands. The propulsion requirements are surge load.

          • What percentage of the power output is consumed by propulsion, and what percentage of the time is propulsion engaged.
            I would presume that they don’t shut everything else down every time they start turning the screws.

          • For the older (now retired) submarines, the best comparison is to assume say 30-35 MegaWatt reactor, with 3 steam turbine generators installed of 2-5 Megawatt each for all of the submarine electrical power, and for all of its DC loads. Rickover would want 100% redundant power supplies, should that would indicate 2-3 MegW for electrical needs at full power, and 30 MegW for the propulsion turbine and reduction gear->propeller.

            Now, a nuclear carrier has 5000 for a crew (instead of 115), and MANY more steam demands for catapult launches, heat, and many times electrical service loads.
            But only the electric loads could be connected offshore or used for something else.
            But, when the carrier is in port, and when the air squadrons are not onboard and need no catapult steam and no “combat” energy (air control radars are shut down, ship is not at combat stations, etc) even the hotel loads are reduced, and almost all operating steam turbo-generators can be diverted to shore power. So, if the carrier were in port, and IF the port had enough shore power CONNECTIONS and transformers available (BIG “if” there!) then 1 reactor could run all of the steam turbo-generators in both plants, and have hundreds of MegW “left over” and not used. (That one reactor might be at 15% power perhaps, but every turbo-generator in both plants is running at 100%.)

          • Spoken like a Power Systems Chief Petty Officer. An “o”fficer would have stumblebummed over the whole explanation.

  4. The classical Mercator projection (map) of Africa was NOT made for cultural or historical reasons – it was made for navigation. You CANNOT navigate on an equal area map…


  5. Dan beat me to it, one of the major roadblocks is governmental corruption. A pattern that has been seen over and over, not just in Africa. Nuclear is the future, as long as we can keep the “usual suspects” out of it, and that is going to be very hard seeing the amounts of money and control of people’s lives involved in this.

    • Yup, keeping the “usual suspects” out of it, meaning the US Democrats, anti-nuke “fearmongers” (and their Lawyers) and the United Nations, …. and Nuclear Africa could be completed “on time” and ”on budget”.

  6. No! I am a nuclear engineer and there is no one who is a bigger supporter of nuclear power. But African nations do not have the technical or social maturity to operate or maintain nuclear infrastructure any better than South Africa can maintain its cell phone infrastructure.

    Even if Africa had an unlimited electricity supply, they way they manage their economies would still severely limit their living standards.

    • Shur nuff, ….. Kevin Balch, …… iffen ya can‘t prevent the power-hungry Socialist money-grubbers from taking control, ….. then an unlimited electricity supply in those African countries wouldn’t change their economies or their living standards.

      “DUH”, ya can’t educate the masses in the basics (3 R’s) if liberal Socialists are setting the curriculum. Ya see what is happening with the US Public School System, …….. don’tja?????

      And iffen ya can’t educate the children …. then electricity can’t help them achieve success at things of importance.

      • Oop, there it is! What do you tell a man with 2 black eyes? Nothing, he has been told twice and is too stupid to understand.

    • Cell phones work OK in S Africa.
      And S Africa has the skills and expertise
      Just not the lack of political corruption.
      But that’s why modular is good.
      Simple designs, mass produced elsewhere and passively safe.

      If something goes wrong they self scram and you send in the fix it team from wherever.

    • If someone wants to bring nuclear powered electricity to Africa, be advised someone (Western or Chinese) will have to provide all the funding, and all the technical manpower, and be prepared to stay forever to keep it running.

  7. Distortion of the size of the standard common flat map projection indicates the map is based on Antarctica (following the logic presented here).

  8. Power from nuclear fission by PBMR or whatever is an acceptable temporary step towards power from nuclear fusion . Cheap nuclear fusion power will decarbonise the world in a trice , if that’s what you want . We need to put every effort into developing nuclear fusion power .

    • The next generation of nuclear power plants will have very small volumes of radioactive byproducts lasting only 300 years (which will be sequestered in stable geologic formations 2 miles underground. You won’t ever be able to detect it from the surface let alone be harmed by it.)

      The volume of nuclear waste for the entire country will be far less than a small fraction of 1% of a city with a 1 million population’s annual landfill volume…THE TOXICITY OF WHICH LASTS MORE THAN A 1000 YEARS. You will be able to golf safely on reclaimed lands and parks built on top of old landfills, but the “innards” will still be toxic.

      Compared this to coal…where mining is environmentally ugly…and rail transportation is ugly and expensive…and the burning is at best still very polluting….and the ash piles are measured in cubic miles AND LAST ALMOST FOREVER, polluting ground waters and streams for centuries (low to moderate levels but PERSISTANT over long periods of time).

      Rational environmentalists should have been the biggest proponents of modern Nuclear Power…however, they are at the beck and call of “Socialism USA” who are not in the least concerned with rationality or the truth…just power and control regardless of the costs and consequences to the population.

    • Yes sure. In a trice. Apparently a trice is a perpetual ‘nother forty years.

      Wasting a trillion bucks on nuclear fusion research is less harmful to society than the environment-scarring bird/bat choppers, and solar unreliables, but no more effective at powering modern society.

      However, sometimes when enough of the populace has been deluded into believing some voodoo religion, there is no real choice but to give them a sacrifice. I’ll take the deal that we burn a billion Benjamins a year for a decade on the Fusion Physicist Full Employment Act of 2020, if we can just be left alone with our fossil fuels. (We probably can’t go with the more traditional virgin being thrown into a volcano).

      On an unrelated topic, is Greta planning to sail to Hawaii? Just curious.

  9. “Contrary to what you may have heard about the Fukushima nuclear plant that was hit by the 2011 tsunami, not one single person was killed or injured by nuclear radiation. Not one. Also, no private property was harmed by radiation.”

    IMO, no progress towards a nuclear future will happen as long as people continue to misrepresent the facts like this. The way to move forward is to acknowledge nuclear’s dangers and shortcomings, and work to implement safer technologies.

      • This is why people who try to ensure nuclear’s future by hiding its dangers and problems will never positively influence public opinion, and IMO will guarantee its demise in the US. Enough people are educated enough to know that they’re being lied to. The winning approach is to acknowledge the problems with existing technology and move on to safer gen 4 technologies. I should know, I’m a convert.

  10. “Contrary to what you may have heard about the Fukushima nuclear plant that was hit by the 2011 tsunami, not one single person was k!lled or injured by nuclear radiation. Not one. Also, no private property was harmed by radiation.”

    IMO, no progress towards a nuclear future will happen as long as people continue to grossly misrepresent the facts like this. The way to move forward is to acknowledge nuclear’s dangers and shortcomings, and work to implement safer technologies.

    • That is not gross misrepresentation of facts, that is the truth
      Unless you can cite evidenbce of radiation deaths, or damage to private property, stop lying.

      • Before I begin, what are your thresholds for legitimizing radiation deaths and damage to private property? For example, do the USS Reagan sailors, who became sick and died after their ship sailed for 2 days through a highly radioactive plume off the coast of Fukushima, only count if the Navy says so? And the contaminated topsoil that was removed from school playgrounds, was that property damaged?

        • icisil: USS Reagan sailors sick and dead from radiation? Not at all likely. US warships are equipped with extensive radiation and particulate monitoring systems. Procedures for handling any detected radiation are extensive. Of course, the immediate action would be to proceed away from an area as dangerous as you imply at speed while initiating exterior wash-down with installed sprinkler systems.
          Radiation sickness requires many magnitudes higher exposure than possible downwind situation.

          • They were two miles off the coast and could see the reactor buildings. The on-deck sailors felt a warm blast of air and sensed a metallic taste in their mouths as they manually swabbed the deck as radioactive snow rained down on them. They didn’t proceed away from the area, but lingered for two days for some reason. No foreign port would allow them to dock because of the contamination. The navy admits that they sailed through a plume.

          • icisil: I can find no evidence that your claims are true. Seems the Russians did blame radiation poisoning from their recent nuclear accident on eating Fukushima crabs so I doubt they are a credible source of information. Besides, the Russians love Cesium 137 and have found multiple uses for it…..

          • Why don’t you do a little research? It’s openly reported on stripes.com and military.com, 2 military-affiliated sites. If you don’t believe them, who are you going to believe?

        • Icisil,

          The report on dose by the Operation Tomadachi Registry (https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/bb6e/996b670366cad4e727b175c4d5a68b93ff0e.pdf) reports a maximum whole body dose of 0.25 mSv and maximum thyroid dose of 4.03 mSv from internally deposited nuclides. These are not significant radiation doses. They do not cause any acute illness or injury ever in anyone. They hypothetically contribute to an increased risk of a future cancer, but at these dose levels there is no actual evidence of that.

          The average lifetime risk of cancer in the US is around 40%. A whole body dose (if the Linear No Threshold Hypothesis were correct) of 0.25 mSv, would increase that risk to about 40.0012%.

          • Yet at least 70 healthy, young sailors became severely ill with conditions consistent with radiation damage (who knows what that number is now). That’s highly anomalous. IMO those tests are highly suspicious. The military admitted that radiation levels were 30x normal levels. A radiation decontamination officer is said to have found levels 300 times higher than normal on the ship.

          • Icsil,

            Thirty times the normal rate is still not significant. In my house, natural background using a portable meter (which won’t capture additional dose from radon) is around 0.1 microsievert per hour (microSv/hr). Thirty times that is 3 microSv/hr.

            3 microSv/hr x 24 hr/day x 30 days = 2.2 milliSv (mSv) (i.e., staying in that dose-rate 24/7 for an entire month). Acute health effects do not occur until you get in the range of 750-1,000 mSv.

            Contamination 300 times the limit can be similarly assessed, and is not significant. Naval limits on contamination are extremely conservative. Three hundred times that limit is still conservative, and only matters if the contamination is then internally-deposited, which was assessed in my previous post.

            These doses and dose-rates are not significant and cannot cause acute illness or injury. Period.

          • And, I should further clarify that acute health effects from 750-1,000 mSv only occur if that dose is received in a “short” time-frame, generally on the order of hours to one or two weeks.

          • Your comments that there could be no ill health effects contradict what is written here. They were sailing in the plume for 1.5 days, well over 10 hours. 30x levels were measured 100 nm from the coast; at one point they were within eyesight of the plants. The air readings don’t address the contamination of the desalination system.

            Mueller told Poneman that levels detected 100 nautical miles away were about 30 times those in a normal air sample out at sea. “We thought based on what we had heard on the reactors that we wouldn’t detect that level even at 25 miles,” he said. “So it’s much greater than what we had thought. We didn’t think we would detect anything at 100 miles.” Mueller said that it would take a person 10 hours to reach a threshold where exposure at that level would become a thyroid dose issue.


          • Radiation 30 times normal is only a little more than the background radiation difference between Miami and Denver.

            Normal is so far below dangerous that 30 times normal is nothing.

          • Icisil,

            You quote a news story, “Mueller said that it would take a person 10 hours to reach a threshold where exposure at that level would become a thyroid dose issue.”

            Without having actual air sampling values, and having some acquaintance with Troy Mueller (quoted in the article), I can only assume his comment that it would “become a thyroid dose issue,” refers to a level which might rise to the annual occupational limit for dose to the thyroid (probably based on a comparison of the air concentrations to the derived air concentrations [DACs] in title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 20, Appendix B). That annual level for an individual organ is 500 mSv. It is not a threshold for deterministic injury . Where the thyroid is exposed, it is equivalent to a whole body dose of about 15 mSv.

            So, if that was what he meant, then the DAC for I-131 (which, if we’re talking thyroids, we’re talking iodines) like all DACs are based on a 2000-hour work year, so if you can reach the dose limit in 10 hours, the concentrations were 200 times the DAC, and that’s probably where the “contamination of 300 times normal” came from. We’re still not getting to any acute injury here.

            I think people don’t realize how easy it is to detect very small quantities of radioactive material, nor that a measurement “300 times normal” tells you basically nothing – what is the nuclide, how did you measure it, how long did it persist, what is the pathway for the radiation or radioactive material to reach a human?

            This ignorance doesn’t just create a resistance to nuclear power, but can kill people if, e.g., the fear is present in emergency room nurses or doctors who are afraid of treating patients with actual life-threatening injuries that are incidentally contaminated by some radioactive material. This is a constant educational challenge.

        • There were no sailors who became sick, much less died. The eagerness with which you pick up and repeat any lie that supports what you desperately want to believe is truly pathetic.

          The fact that idiot politicians over reacted is not proof that radiation is dangerous, just that idiots are.

          • This is a coverup that we wouldn’t have heard about if the hundreds of sick sailors hadn’t come forward. You truly dishonor our soldiers in uniform and are basically calling them ambulance chasers. Disgusting.

          • Once again, the lack of evidence is just proof of a cover up.

            The fact that you can’t actually deal with the argument I made and have to dredge up total irrelevancies is just further proof that even you know that the claims you are making are total bunk.

            I never called anybody anything, I just pointed to a few of the many holes in your story.
            While those in are armed services are to be honored, anyone who thinks there are no bad apples amongst those who serve is either lying to himself, or to the rest of us.

          • PS: As Barbara pointed out to you in a response that you have so far ignored, what you read doesn’t mean what you want it to mean.

    • So, you have lists of the thousands of people killed and millions of acres made uninhabitable by the incident at Fukushima? Blowing the hazards and dangers all out of proportion to reality helps nothing. China Syndrome, anyone?

      • The bodies are being stored at Area 51, and the aliens have cloned them so that nobody notices they are missing.

        • I love Area 51!!!!!! Pick a direction at random and fire away with any weapon system your heart desires. Paul and ET don’t care, long as you ain’t shooting at them.

  11. “Another major advantage of nuclear power is that it uses so little fuel. The total annual fuel usage of even a large nuclear plant can be carried in a couple of trucks. It can be airlifted-in, if need be. There is no need for long supply lines, which can be prone to weather or political disruptions. Nuclear reactors are refuelled only every 18 months.”

    Now why don’t you tell us about the 176 million lbs of spent fuel rods sitting in cooling ponds at nuclear plants in just the US. That’s a tremendous security and safety risk, and an externality that never gets addressed.

    • For those who don’t know, …… it never gets addressed because ……

      In October 1976, concern of nuclear weapons proliferation led President Gerald Ford to issue a Presidential directive to indefinitely suspend the commercial reprocessing and recycling of plutonium in the U.S. On 7 April 1977, President Jimmy Carter banned the reprocessing of commercial reactor spent nuclear fuel. President Reagan lifted the ban in 1981, but did not provide the substantial subsidy that would have been necessary to start up commercial reprocessing. the Obama administration stepped back from President Bush’s plans for commercial-scale reprocessing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_reprocessing

      And current politicians don’t want to touch it because it is a highly “toxic’ ubject.

    • Ya, it too bad we don’t have a place specifically designed and built to store Nuclear waste, maybe out in the desert somewhere, where it can be safely kept. Say, deep in a mountain that has had tens of Billions of dollars spent on studying it to make sure it’s perfect in every way for the job, and Billions more spent on digging it out and preparing it.

      I mean, it only been a few decades since they started charging extra for electricity from nuclear power to pay for all this, and now the taxpayer is kicking in about 2 billion a year to pay all the nuclear power plant owners becouse they still need to store it all on site.

      In all seriousness, how do we fix this mess, when everyone involved in the process will make billions more dollars keeping it as it is?


      • “Money talks, ….. BS walks”

        There are literally DOZENS of similar type “messes” and we, meaning the concerned public, can’t fix any of them.

        There’s nuclear waste, wind turbines, solar panels, illegal drugs, tobacco, global warming, United Nations, foreign aid cash, EPA, military deployment in foreign countries and literally thousands of do-nothing Commissions and Agencies, etc., employing ten-of-thousands of “political appointees”.

        President Trump is trying to clean-up a few of the “messes” but everyone with a “funded intere$t” is fighting back with tooth n’ nail …… and every dirty trick and deed they can think up.

        • Well, at least DJT has put a pair of torpedoes into the SS Biden, and pretty sure as that garbage scow goes down it is going to suck several others under with it. Karma, its a beatch.

          • Yup. utterly amazing, the looney left Dems close their eyes and their minds while watching/listening to a video of Biden admit his threatening of a foreign country ……. while irately and dishonestly accusing Trump of doing what Biden did.

    • There’s almost 100 times the nuclear energy extracted STILL UNUSED IN THOSE RODS. Solid fuel rods physically break apart WAY BEFORE the fuel is depleted. The reason for the inaction in reprocessing has to be political (probably from nuclear’s competitors)…and inaction in safe disposal is also political and not a practical/engineering problem.

      Still, the sooner the better for the development of Thermal (slow neutron) Nuclear Reactors that will not be pressurization (explosions that disperse nuclear products can’t happen) and where the reactors use 95%+ of the fuel and there are no long lived radio active wastes. They will be “walk-away” safe against meltdowns. There are no trans-uranic byproducts so only 300 years to decay to BACKGROUND RADIATION LEVELS (safe levels 100 years sooner…comparable to air travel…far less time than for landfills and coal ash piles to become non-toxic).

    • Why are they sitting there? Is it because we have no idea how to handle them? Or is it because ONE political party in America blocks doing what we already know how to do? Who is creating all these “problems”? That is right! The Democrat Party. Perhaps you should take up your “issues” with them.

        • Rob likes to whine about inconsequential things. It distracts him from the number of times he’s made a fool of himself over important things.

          • My petty, creepy cyberstalker with Stockholm syndrome strikes to waste recycled cyber bits on BS. It is besotted with me after so many spankings that it has endured from me! What is it with you uneducated buffoons that you feel compelled to follow your intellectual superiors after we have given you thorough schooling in the very basics of math and science?

          • Yes, griffie, you are boring, odious, tedious and repetitively repetitive. And yet you continue to repeat yourselves.

        • It is the Democrat Party. Democratic is descriptive of a political process. Words have meanings, Democrat means liar.

          • There is no such political party as Democrat. Try English and grow up. Even as a dotard you have a few years left to mature. What next? Going to clain to be a climate science expert because you wrote a few disinformation Op-eds? Ooops, you already did that a few years back with no science education or research experience.

          • That is the name of your America hating party, The Democrat Party. F**k you. I am an American, eat my sh*t, c**t.

          • Apparently you are easily antagonized, so I am looking forward to ridiculing you mercilessly, reducing you to a puddle of fascist, racist, white supremacist tears.

          • Ahh, griffie! Wipe your tears away, so we can make you cry some more, c**t. Oh, and yes, Hitlery got the sh*t kicked out of her by America. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • The only reason why this stuff sits around is because the anti-nuclear idiots have prevented the US from reprocessing it.
      I should add that this “waste” is also the result of over 50 years of power production.

      It really bugs me the utter hypocrisy of people who do everything in their power to prevent reprocessing, then turn around and point to un-reprocessed waste as proof that nuclear is a problem.

    • It’s impossible to know how many people died as a result of Fukushima when:

      * The fascist Japanese government threatens to throw people in jail for 10 years who talk about bad things that happened (State Secrecy Law passed in 2013, 2 years after Fukushima)
      * Doctors can lose the ability to practice if they attribute illnesses/deaths to Fukushima
      * Cleanup is done by tens of thousands of contract workers, who are forgotten about when they leave, or who don’t receive health monitoring because they were discharged before they received the minimum radiation dose to qualify for health benefits.
      * Among other things

      • “* The fascist Japanese government threatens to throw people in jail for 10 years who talk about bad things that happened (State Secrecy Law passed in 2013, 2 years after Fukushima)”

        As I understand it, the Japanese don’t talk about anything bad that they did. They’ve never owned up to their horrific treatment of POWs in WWII, for instance.

      • Complete rubbish. The IAEA and UNSCEAR have both done reviews of the consequences. All of your point, icisil, are complete fabrications.

    • Ther were no immediate deaths whicvh is unremarkable given the nomimal release

      The worker who did from lung cancer is disputed.

      Many people die from lung cancer. And that would be an unexpected death – thyroid would be far more likely

      It’s just linking of events that are not connected to promote more nuclear fear.

    • Scissor says, “…but there was quite a lot of exposure and one worker is acknowledged to have died from radiation induced lung cancer.”

      There was compensation for the death and acknowledgement by the government, which was political, not science-based.

      It is impossible to tell a radiation-induced lung cancer from any other lung cancer. The Mainichi (a Japanese paper) writes that the worker was exposed to about 195 mSv over the course of 35 years working there. That would be about 5-6 mSv per year, or 1/10 of the annual occupational exposure limit in the U.S., and only twice the annual average background radiation exposure in the U.S., comparable to living on the Colorado Plateau for 35 years. Even had he received that exposure all at once (he didn’t), this total dose is at the low end for induction of solid tumors, which generally have a latency period for onset of greater than 10 years. Again, the compensation was political, not science-based.

      • But even if Fukushima had claimed 100 lives, nuclear would still be safer than any other form of energy production by orders of magnitude…including solar, wind, and hydro. Fukishima DIDN’T kill anyone by the evidence I’ve seen…(but I’ll never claim that science news is incorruptible, but AMAZINGLY it’s certain that not more than 3 perished in that catastrophe…not including those killed in the unnecessary evacuation).

        Unfortunately, the political scaremongering aided tremendously by the very misleading and very loose association to nuclear weapons, has been politically persuasive.

        Paradoxically, it might take something like a REAL CLIMATE EMERGENCY to get the population to accept widespread use of Nuclear Power.

    • The Japanese power company did not “acknowledged [the worker] to have died from radiation induced lung cancer.” They agreed to pay compensation to his dependents. There is a very big difference.

      • There has never been any scientific evidence presented that proves that CO2 causes near-surface warming.

        There has never been any scientific evidence presented that proves that Round-Up causes cancer.

        There has never been any scientific evidence presented that proves that cigarette smoke causes cancer.

        There has never been any scientific evidence presented that proves that Freon was responsible for the Ozone Hole.

        There has never been any scientific evidence presented that proves that NH biomass growth/decay is responsible for the biyearly cycling of atmospheric CO2.

        There has never been any scientific evidence presented that proves that our early human ancestors evolved on the hot n’ dry savannahs of East Africa.

        There has never been any scientific evidence presented that proves that the Egyptians built the Great Pyramid of Giza.

        There has never been any scientific evidence presented that proves …… (add your favorite)

        • There is no proof in science, that is for distillers, mathematicians, and courts of law. Just the best explanation of evidence to describe physical phenomena. Science does not operate on “empirical proof”. Proof is a threshold in mathematics, not science. Science uses evidence derived from data analyses.

          • Triggered under-educated snowflake! Why construct strawman fallacy? Scientists are allowed to and are even encouraged to disagree. Irritated activists of stupidity, like you, have no influence on the road to wisdom.

            The “settled” part of climate science pertains to the unarguable fact that CO₂ is a GHG. That it slows radiative cooling when present in the atmosphere. That a known quantity has a known back radiative effect. Everybody knows that CO₂ is the primary forcing, except for people, like you, who never took a science class.

          • Yes, you are a trigged, uneducated c*nt. We goe it, don’t have to keep proving it, well, you have to keep proving it to yourselves.

          • Rob – September 23, 2019 at 9:12 am

            There is no proof in science, that is for distillers, mathematicians, and courts of law.

            So, Rob, my above post really “jerked-your-chain”, …… RIGHT?

            And since you can’t disprove anything I stated …… your only recourse was your idiotic rebuttal about definitions of “word usage” and the silliness of “proof verses evidence”, ……. a typical asinine reaction one expects from a misnurtured, miseducated, brainwashed liberal lemming.

            The “settled” part of climate science pertains to the unarguable fact that CO₂ is a GHG.

            Rob, the above is just more “liberal lunacy” on your part. “DUH”, any gas that is enclosed within the confines of a physical “greenhouse” or green house ….. is technically a GHG (green house gas). That includes O2, N2, N2O, CO2, CH4, H2O, O3, etc., etc., … and also including any employee emitted flatulence gas.

            So, getta clue Rob, …. CO2, CH4, H2O and N2O are “radiant gasses”, …. meaning they are the only gases capable of “radiating” IR thermal (heat) energy.

            That it slows radiative cooling when present in the atmosphere. That a known quantity has a known back radiative effect. Everybody knows that CO₂ is the primary forcing,

            Rob, when you mimic asinine ”junk science” claims such as the above are, ….. you can only impress your likeminded peers ….. that will cause ya’all to ….. “feel better all over more than anyplace else”.

          • I’m sure you have heard the old adage, from others to you, that “it is better to remain silent than make a fool of oneself.” You are the poster child with that gibberish and junk science.

          • Rob, the ole saying is …… “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” ……. but you and your likeminded friends are a prime example of …… “You can’t teach younger dogs anything new, especially science”.

    • Wow. One person. You are absolutely right!!!!!!!!!! We should all just sit down in the mud and die. Humans are evil!!!!!! You nailed it, we should all kill ourselves!!!!!!!

      Oh, that one person? He got over exposed because he remained in a contam area and DID HIS JOB. That is what a man does. Not what leftist coward f**ks do.

    • 1) The BBC isn’t trustworthy on anything.
      2) How many people in a population that size would normally die from lung cancer anyway. Declaring that one additional death occurred is just not statistically possible.
      3) Exposure is not evidence of anything other than exposure. Low levels of exposure have been shown to actually improve health.

  12. From the above article: “There is a second solution: SMR-class Small Modular Reactors that are currently being developed.”

    Hmmm . . . the solution is declared before it is even demonstrated to work. A nice gig if you can get it . . . but then again, that’s part of what consultants are paid to do.

    Also, the nuclear physicist, project management company CEO and consultant that wrote this blivot conveniently did not mention the issue of transporting and storing the still-radioactive spent fuel from each of these SMRs that will be “refueled every 18 months,” nor the very real issue of SMR “fuel”, being widely distributed around the continent of Africa, likely being diverted for terrorist use, as in a “dirty bomb.”

    • Spent fuel is pretty harmless in this type of reactor

      Certainly possible to fly it in and out in proper crashproof containers
      BUT given cooling requirements its likely reactors would be coastal or river based which introduces the possibility to ship it.

      • “Spent fuel is pretty harmless in this type of reactor.”

        So, exactly how does that work . . . a SMR reactor still provides 90+% of design power when the reactor’s fuel radioactivity is at or below 0.1% of its starting level, making it “pretty harmless”? Amazing feat.

        I guess that explains why there is no need to address the spent fuel storage/containment and/or reprocessing problem and the issue of using spent fuel to make dirty bombs . . . it is after all, “pretty harmless.”

        And I doubt the method of transport of the SMR fuel elements matters much to a terrorist organization intent of getting that radioactive material, whether new or spent.

  13. Decades of foreign aid have shown that Africa cannot be helped. The leadership of every single country is utterly and totally corrupt. Add in a level of brutality not seen in Europe since the middle ages. Try to help any African country in a major way, and all you get is cries of “Colonialism”, and more butchery.
    Ancient tribal warfare going on for millennia, now with modern weapons.
    What could go wrong?

    • The trouble with foreign aid is it goes to governments which are corrupt.,

      The Chinese understand corruption perfectly. They come in,. buy the local chiefs, send in the technical teams and a platoon of military and build what they want.

      No bleeding hear liberals to complain back home

    • Boom. How many time you have to tell people not to urinate and defecate in their only water sources? Apparently none, because it does no good to tell them anything.

  14. It is true that the Germans in the 1980’s investigated PBMR technology and ruled it unviable, ever. When the Wall fell, something terrible happened which is that the highly skilled nuclear engineers in Russia were out of work and wandered the globe assisting whoever would assist them with a grain of rice. About 40 rocket engineers ended up, one by one, in North Korea. We see now what that led to.

    When faced with the end of apartheid, a similar fate awaited the highly skilled and experienced South Africa nuclear engineers and physicists. So a plan was made.

    An unverifiable story was put out that South Africans had made an inspired insight into how to overcome the problems identified by the Germans. Discussion was animated all over the world. In the end the outsiders concluded that while they could not see a way forward, if anyone could do it, it would be the South Africans. A huge budget was allocated and work began, employing all the staff of the nuclear program that probably produced at least 6 neutron and or other bombs, and who knows how many more for other countries beginning with the letter ‘i’.

    Then, as predicted behind the scenes, the PBMR project lasted until all the old boys reached retirement age and took their pensions. It then transpired that, of a sudden, the system was discovered not to be viable after all and the “insight” (never revealed) was not going to work well enough.

    This is the IAEA in action, protecting everyone on the planet from what emerged from Pandora’s Box.

  15. WIKI:
    “Chad maintains sizable reserves of crude oil which, alongside agriculture, makes up the largest share of the landlocked former French colony’s export revenue. Producing around 100,000 barrels of oil a day, most of Chad’s crude comes from its reserves in the Doba Basin in southern Chad where oil was discovered in the early 1970s by foreign drillers. There is an estimated one billion barrels of oil in Chad…..”

    Note: Chad has oil, South Africa has coal, how about the rest of the continent? SMR is an excellent energy source. But because of cost, only when less expensive hydrocarbons are in short supply. Probably easier to build a pipeline to remote locations than trying to locate a 100+ MW nuclear. Smaller reactor’s (<50 MW) could be moved in via truck/barge and could potentially be cost competitive with pipelines in select locations.

  16. The Pebble Bed reactor is obsolete as is the light water, fuel rod reactor.

    The ‘nuclear’ industry is a scam. In any other industry the optimum design for the customer is found.

    In the nuclear industry the optimum design is to sell expensive fuel rods not safe, mass produce able fission reactors.

    There is a mass produce able, cheap as coal, no catastrophic failure modes, fission reactor design that was built and tested 50 years ago.

    This optimum liquid fuel fission reactor design was copied by Canada Terrestrial Energy who now have a 660 MW, small, modular, transport to site by truck design, that has reached stage 2 Canadian regulator approval, first test build multiple sites early 2020 and has received funding for a US test.

    The liquid fuel no fuel rod, no pebbles, fission reactor is the most efficient and safe reactor design possible and is the only low enrich fission reactor design that can be used as a breeder (using thorium).

    It is six times more fuel efficient, than a ‘conventional’ light water reactor as the fuel moves in and out of the fission zone’.

    It operates at atmospheric pressure and is walk away safe on loss of coolant. As compare to a pressure water reactor that operates at 150 atmospheres.

    Light water reactors, require flowing water even when the reactor is shut off due to the heat from short lived highly reactive byproducts (first 8 hours is the worst) the is trapped in side the fuel rods.

    A light water reactor’s core will start to melt down in roughly 12 minutes on loss of coolant or loss of pressure. There is no equivalent failure possible for a liquid fuel reactor.

    The short lived reactive produces are mixed in the total mass in the reactor and dissipate heat via convection to the outside of the sealed vessel that is then removed by melting a salt that lines the outside of the reactor to provide a walk away safe back cooling system.


    In early 2010 the South Africa government announced it had stopped funding the development of the pebble bed modular reactor, and PBMR (Pty) stated it was considering 75% cuts in staff.[9] The decision was taken because no customer or investor for PBMR was found. Unresolved technical items, a substantial increase of costs and a 2008 report from Forschungszentrum Jülich about major problems in operation of the German pebble bed reactor AVR[10] had discouraged potential investors.[11] International banks refused to support the PBMR project by loans. PBMR’s CEO resigned on March, 8th 2010. In future, the South African nuclear program will concentrate on conventional light water reactors.[11]

    • “…the South African nuclear program will concentrate on conventional light water reactors.” As they should. Light water reactors actually work. The German pebble bed reactor known as the AVR reactor, also known as “The Shipwreck” could have been called the “Old Lady in a Shoe” reactor because it had so many problems nobody knew (or even yet knows) what to do. An oft recommended alternative, Homogeneous reactors, are those where the nuclear fuel is dissolved in water, molten salt or something else. What to do with the loose fission products that circulate throughout the whole system, escape and contaminate anything they touch to horridly high radiation levels? What to do with the hydrolysis of water (in the water-solute versions) that leads to extraordinary corrosion? What to build such reactors from that won’t crack apart and/or corrode apart are among the many many issues confronting such designs.

      These may be solvable problems for some of the concepts but pending solutions, one should stick to what is known to work for power generation today especially since it is cost effective despite the countless claims to the contrary, and invest a few thousand windmills-worth of money on the others in hopes that one of them will work out.

      Dr. Kemm, you should understand, was a principal in the failed South African effort to develop a pebble bed reactor. He is just promoting himself with his post.

    • Is this also known as the CANDU design?

      If it first comes online in early 2020, it’ll get here just in time, maybe, to deflect spending partly or largely from Unreliables.

  17. PBMRs are NOT the best SMRs. Molten salt reactors can produce power for 4 cents per kWhr, levelized, can be located anywhere, need NO cooling bodies of water.The can load follow, which means little to noneed for peak load generators. Many countries and companies are developing this molten salt technology and some are within a few years of commercializatiom.

    • “and some are within a few years of commercialization.” !
      As they have been for at least 30 years ! D’oh !

    • William, you state:
      660 MW, small, modular, transport to site by truck design, that has reached stage 2 Canadian regulator approval, first test build multiple sites early 2020 and has received funding for a US test.

      Any chance you meant 66 MW? 660 MW isn’t small modular…Otherwise sounds great.

      • Fission reactors are not toys.

        The super small reactors miss the point. Fission energy requires trained staff, 24 hour security, and so on which requires a minimum size and minimum staff for no worry safety.

        Fission reactors are for big energy uses.

        A cheap as coal, fail safe fission reactor beats so called “Fossil’ fuel and makes fuel rod reactor obsolete.

        A liquid fuel fission reactor design (Terrestrial Energy, Canadian company which has a US affiliate) is small in that it can be transported to site, by truck (large truck) in one or two pieces (depending on roads).

        The 660 MW liquid fuel reactor the largest size that is walk away safe and is cheap primarily as it does not need a containment building and back-up systems that are required to protect a fuel rod reactor from melting down or blowing up. (Hydrogen explosions).

        People have no idea how much safer and cheaper a liquid fuel reactor is as compared to a fuel rod reactor that has 50,000 fuel rods a third of which must be removed every two years.

        One of largest concerns for people living near a fuel rod fission reactor is small leaks of radioactive material.

        After the Three Mile Island meltdown (roughly half the core of the 18 month old boiling water reactor melted down) the reactor the Democrats started an investigation into the pressure water and boiling water fuel rod fission reactor safety and safety issues.

        The investigation in PWR and BWR found that some PWR and BWR reactors had cracked fuel rods (worst cases 10% of the fuel rods).

        Cracked fuel rods allows reactive noble gases that are produced by fission and water soluble reactive elements (cesium and iodine) that are produced by fission to get into the cooling water and as there always steam leaks in any high pressure steam system, into the air and water around the plant.

        The liquid fuel Terrestrial reactor design is sealed.

        There is no contact with the external coolant and the reactive material as the external coolant pumps into a heat exchanger that is inside the reactor.

        The first external coolant is then run into a second heat exchanger that uses as standard melted salt in its secondary loop. The standard melted salt is then used to produce high pressure 600C steam in at third heat exchanger.

        The three separate heat exchangers, positive pressure, and constant monitoring for reactive release and for coolant leakage into the reactor, ensures that a heat exchanger leak does not result in any radioactive material getting out of the reactor and into the water.

        The Terrestrial reactor has six heat exchanger which includes a spare.

        In event of a leak in the heat exchanger., the bad heat exchanger is isolated and the reactor is restated.

  18. I have heard that reactors using thorium are much safer and do not have the same problems as uranium does. Can someone more knowledgeable comment on that?

      • I do not see any disadvantages for the molten salt reactors, liquid fuel reactors.

        You commented that there were 10 disadvantages for liquid fuel reactors.

        The issue is molten salt reactors, liquid fuel, no fuel rod, atmospheric operating pressure, walk away safe, fission reactors make fuel rod reactors that have 50,000 fuel rods that 1/3 of which must be removed every two year obsolete.

        What is, is. Engineering reality does not change. This is a stupid swamp problem not an engineering problem.

        It is pathetic that we are wasting U235 burning it fuel rod reactor when there is a fission reactor design that is six times more fuel efficiency design that has no catastrophic failure modes

        • That decision was made in great part by Nixon (there are phone recordings with a Senator) in an effort to bring the civilian nuclear “origins” to California and away from Tennessee.

          The inventor of pressurized LWR’s, Dr. Alvin Weinberger at Oakridge National Lab, also invented the Molten Salt Reactor. He thought the MSR was by far the better design for civilian reactors.


          So, if the Climate Alarmists win this battle for the destruction of Western Civilization, we have Nixon to blame for giving us super expensive, dangerous reactors with extremely long lived transuranic elements in the waste.

    • This video is awesome, it’s a good course on the entire history of it, but centers around the promise of molten salts and why it was sadly a ‘road not taken’. Kirk Sorensen is a fine presenter, but also the editing of Kirk’s lectures and annotation with historical imagery and slides was done by Gordon McDowell who is a genius of continuity. It is two hours long but flows smoothly.

      • I was “anti-nuclear” (since I was a teenager) until I heard Sorenson. I was never an activist, but never pro-nuclear. If it can work like he says it can, it’s the only sane way to go. Produce power safely and consume existing waste? Win-win.

  19. Interesante articulo. África tubo muchísima Energía Eléctrica de las centrales Hidroeléctricas;pero el TERRORISMO y las GUERRAS destruyeron la red y África se quedo sin ELECTRICIDAD. “Cuidado” con las Centrales NUCLEARES en África,pueden ser una “bomba de tiempo”.
    ……..planta nuclear de Fukushima que fue afectada por el tsunami de 2.011, “ni una sola persona murió o resulto herida por la radiación nuclear. Ni uno. Ademas ninguna propiedad privada fue dañada por la radiación”.
    Ciudades enteras están abandonadas……..quieres mas ???

  20. “Africa is different, and its electricity supply challenges are quite monumental. The continent is larger than the USA, China, India and Europe combined. The standard common flat map projection is based on Europe for historical reasons, and does not adequately portray the true size of Africa.”

    Comparing a continent with individual countries (except Europe). Sure, it’s really big. Did you know that North America is bigger than Denmark? Astounding!

    • While we are being irritated by strange comments, let me add: Canada’s reservoirs are also filled primarily by melting snow so apparently and similarly to Norway, we aren’t dependent on precipitation. If we could just ship some of our evermelting snow to Africa, problem solved. I guess I now understand why warmistas obsess so about disappearing glaciers. I always thought that precipitation filled reservoirs but no, it is evermelting glaciers that do the trick. Perhaps Willy Wonka has a solution?

      • BCBill
        You said, “I always thought that precipitation filled reservoirs but no, it is evermelting glaciers that do the trick.” Except where there aren’t any glaciers — which is most of the US!

  21. The biggest drawback to large nuclear reactors is the weight of paperwork that must be waded through to get a project built. As each power station is slightly different, the paperwork is bespoke and takes so long to negotiate that the design is probably outdated by the time it is built. SMRs have the potential to side-step this problem, as each reactor would be identical to ones already in use and only local environmental issues would vary. Now, anyone who’s been involved with a large building project will know that those local environment issues can still take years to sort out but it’d still be shorter than the decades involved in large scale nuclear.

    • However even multiple iterations of the EDF design as used at UK Hinkley site have not managed to reduce build time or expense…

    • Lot’s of talk about molten salt and thorium and blah, blah. In the real “western” world with it’s regulatory environment, nothing “that new” is going to become operational before 2030. The only chance of getting a few modular reactors operating in the USA by 2030 rests on NuScale’s success at Idaho Falls, Idaho:
      copy /
      The Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) project, which is to be built at a 890-square-mile site at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls, will feature a plant comprising a dozen 60-MWe modules. NuScale anticipates the first module could be operational by 2026 and full plant would be operational by 2027.

    • And where did this”weight of paperwork” come from? Leftist political a$$wipes who hate the fact people have access to abundant and cheap electricity.

  22. Hydropower is a good way to turn your country into a feudal barony of energy and have a few wealthy cities gathered around massive evaporation tanks that drowned its most productive lands, and the elites waltzing at midnight in the blare of electric light, while the rest of the country will never have any hope of modern drinking water and waste treatment.

  23. ‘Turbines kill birds and bats, by the thousands’

    No they don’t, with even rudimentary planning on siting of turbines.

    I’d also like to point out that any power solution in Africa has to cope with the vast distances over which power lines need to be set up… there isn’t a grid out there and nobody has built one in the 75 years since the end of WW2.

    However lots of areas of Africa are benefitting from solar power, batteries, solar charged LEDs. In some cases supplementing existing diesel generators (reducing fuel cost – often a major expense in Africa).

    You will note also the successful electrification programme in Kenya, including much wind and solar and the North African extensive solar solutions.

    • The problem is the places with the best wind are also the places most favored by birds.

      That wind turbines kill birds and bats by the million is well documented.

      Those places in Africa would benefit a whole lot more if the environmental nut cases would permit the development of real power sources.

  24. The energy minister of a landlocked African country recently told me that, if they imported coal from South Africa, the only way to do it would be by overland rail, across vast distances. Making matters even worse, the train would have to cross four international borders. Those distances and political risks make coal imports out of the question.

    This is like a quiz question but I’m pretty sure there is enough info there to uniquely identify this “anonymous” energy minister.

    OK a quick check looks like it could be Uganda, C.A.R. or Ethiopia.

  25. A Talisman – SMR
    A Magic Wand – SMR
    An Incantation – SMR SMR SMR

    Anybody got a demonstrator up and running? Nothing says “Can Do” like a unit running along.
    The best anybody says for the magical SMR is 3 to 5 years. Sure. No prototypes, no demonstrators, but “they” will be ready to ship a commercial product in 3 years.

    December 7, 1941 – Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The next day, the US officially enters WWII.
    August 15, 1945 – Japan announces unconditional surrender, the war ends.
    Total elapsed time 3 years, 9 months.

    The United States won a world war in less time than this “Anytime Now” SMR is taking.
    Every time the subject if nuclear power comes up, a whole bunch of people come out of the woodwork, waving their magic wand and chanting their incantation – SMR SMR SMR.

    It is not a commercial product, stop acting like it is.

    • The NuScale SMR project, managed out of Portland, Oregon, is totally real. Their 60 Mw design uses half-height conventional fuel rods.

      NuScale has a power utility customer for its 60 Mw design, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. It has an identified site for the first 12-unit SMR facility (a total of 720 Mwe) at DOE’s INNL site in eastern Idaho. It has an experienced EPC nuclear constructor partner and major financial investor, Fluor. It has an experienced nuclear plant operator partner for its first SMR facility, Energy Northwest.

      NRC certification of the NuScale 60 Mw design is on track for completion in 2020. NuScale is now in the process of negotiating with two reactor equipment manufacturers, one located in the US and the other located in Korea, for initial factory production of the first twelve SMR units.

      A final decision on proceeding with the 720 Mw Idaho project will be made in 2021. If approval is given by the power customers, completion is expected in late 2026 at a capital cost of $4,200 per Kwe, which compares with a figure of $14,000 per Kwe for Vogtle 3 & 4, a two unit AP1000 facility.

      With the failure of the VC Summer project in South Carolina, and the massive cost overruns and schedule slippages of Vogtle 3 & 4, it is no exaggeration to say that the future of new-build nuclear power in the United States depends almost entirely on successful completion of NuScale’s Idaho SMR project.

      • Beta Blocker,

        Well at least there’s two of us that know what has to happen to get nuclear moving in the USA (see my condensed version of NuScale status posted above). I’m an old man and really want to see that project go because it’s my last chance to see it happen. We desperately need to perfect, deploy and put SMR’s in operation ASAP to provide a true green alternative to worth less than nothing wind, solar and bio-fuels for the hydrocarbon haters.

  26. Coal is clearly the answer to sub Saharan Africa electricity. A pity I can’t convince the Synod of the Church of England to support fossil fuels and do something about poverty. But they’re not a very Christian lot on the whole.

  27. However, one still cannot escape the glaring reality that you get solar only part of the day, and get zero at night. You also get next-to-nothing when it rains, or when daytimes are cloudy.

    Having said some countries are only 10% or 20% electrified I such a glaring reality would sound like fantastic progress to an African, if not to you.

    Dust on the solar panels knocks out a substantial portion of their electrical output. An enthusiastic European vendor may advise you to just wash the panels regularly. Europeans use automatic water washers. Simple! But Africa has no water to spray daily onto solar panels.

    They don’t have water but they have lots of cheap labour and free time. Water is not the only way to remove dust. Maybe you should have asked an African rather than an “enthusiastic european vendor”

    In short you are twisting your arguments to make your case.

  28. The free world should acquire an uninhabited island in the Seychelles, build some tsunami-proof, highly-guarded nuclear power plants, and run DC transmission lines to countries in Africa.

    You might not be able to serve all of their needs, but it would be a start, and a better return on the money that is currently being poured into countries that never change.

    Unfortunately, we would never get the international cooperation needed for such a project. Oh, well. Maybe the idea will be used in some sci-fi novel about the future.

  29. If someone wants to bring nuclear powered electricity to Africa, be advised someone (Western or Chinese) will have to provide all the funding, and all the technical manpower, and be prepared to stay forever to keep it running.

  30. While sane people all agree modern nuclear rectors designs are likely the only way forward if Africa is to prosper (and for the entire world for that matter once affordable fossil fuels are largely depleted), everyone’s hidden assumption is that the GreenBlob and an Imperial Chinese foreign policy (of resource exploitation for delivery to Chinese metal foundries) will allow Africa to prosper. That is, everyone assumes hidden powers would not stop a wholesale electrification using nuclear power of Africa and prosperity and the internal resource consumption that would bring to Africans.

    Deeply embedded African tribal corruption has always served its purpose for outsiders. The imperialistic, colonial exploitation of Africa only arose by Africans providing fellow Africans to slave traders 400 years ago. Now to today’s Chinese corporations operating African mines with Chinese workers to return the ore to China and its foundries, while the local ruler and his family gets the riches. And the poor are left to run illegal mines under war lord protection for his share of the loot (cobalt king in this area).

    That kind of imperialistic corruption-exploitation of Africa goes back even further to the days of the Egyptian Pharaohs and the Roman’s legions with less historical records (lions, giraffes, zebras, and elephants in Rome 2000 years ago testifies to that). It was likely only the overland problems of the tsetse-fly/sleeping sickness and mosquitoes/malaria that held back any deeper exploitation of Africa during those more ancient times.

    But deeper exploitation of Africa arose once experienced sea-farers and sea-borne shipping commerce made it possible to travel around the entire coastlines of Africa in the 16th Century, “picking at the carcass” from the safety of salt water approaches without venturing too far inland to the heart of darkness. The Portuguese, Dutch-Flemish, and Belgique names that still persist to this day bears that era of colonial exploitation out. And it is likely that in 300 years there will be Mandarin-Chinese country names common across Africa if Chinese Imperialism trends underway now go unchecked.

    To be clear, I support such efforts to bring modern electrification to Africa and improve the lives of many millions of Africans. But I suspect there are deep forces at work that will fight to stop that and use deeply embedded corruption in Africa to sustain the colonial ways of resource extraction. Afterall, from the perspective of GreenBlobber, how can the world population decline to < 1 Billion if Africa is allowed to prosper?

  31. Why not trade deals with those nations that have rule-of-law and little corruption? If we start building up the infrastructure in Africa it will greatly benefit the people there, lowering birth rates, infant mortality and Chinese influence. We could work on developing GenIV reactors that consume nuclear waste as fuel and kill two birds with one stone. I would love to see a national service project where college students work in Africa as a way to pay off their student loan debt. Working in foreign countries might just teach our spoiled youth a little appreciation for the U.S. of A. There would have to be limits on the level of corruption allowed before work could begin; maybe we could even use the same policy here in the U.S. in states like California and New York. Of course the more radical greens would object since their religious beliefs have a very strong streak of eugenics and racism. Perhaps we could work on building up a sugar ethanol program like Brazil’s to give our trade partners a readily available liquid fuel for transportation. Electric vehicles will always be inefficient for anything besides short distance, local traffic; especially when sugar cane can be easily grown in much of the Tropics.

  32. Consuming radioactive transuranic elements in our huge stockpiles could fire up a Molten Salt reactor every day for 93 years.


    But Thorium is so cheap as to be a very tiny “rounding error” factor in the energy cost equation.

    But politically, promoting reactors that can rid us of our nuclear waste stockpiles WHILE FIXING THE CLIMATE FRAUD threat to Western Civilization is possibly the best strategy to combat the fraud.

    Total current US annual energy consumption is 100 Quads which is just under 30 Million Gigawatt hours.

    So we’d need about 2400 MSR”s (@1.5 Gigawatt) in the USA for all of our energy plus a synthetic liquid fuels infrastructure for ground transportation and aviation. At around $1 Billion each for the Reactors (which could be cut in half with mass production) the price tag would be under $3 Trillion for 80 years of energy since the fuel is essentially free.

    We spend 9% of our $20 Trillion on energy annually in the US…so rounding up, that’s $2 Trillion annually.

    A good Socialist should jump at the chance of fixing the Climate while cutting energy costs over the next century from $400 Trillion to $4 Trillion….LOOK AT ALL THE $$ that would create to steal.

  33. Mbube is the lion. Here’s a truly wondrous version of a well-known song, the name of which was corrupted in the West as Wimoweh, performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir.

    If you can’t see the video links in your browser, and you’re using AdBlocker or some other form of security protocol, just click the little padlock icon in the address control and the click “unblock” or “turn off blocking.”


    or some might prefer this similarly excellent version sung by Ladysmith Black Mombaza and The Mint Juleps

  34. One of the core problems in today’s political dystopia, is that we live in an enormously complciated world, wit every more complex and sophisticated technology. A politician cannot make a decision after briefing, he fact he or she will never have enough information and knowlege to make a correct decision. And this goes for his advisors. Even experts often aren’t expert at all, and terrible ideas get propagated by people who have skin in that game, which even they don’t understand.
    The sad thing is that there were two fundamentllay reactor designs from the 1950’s, and the US government picked the wrong one for the reaons just mentioned. In fact both were designed by the same team, with the second design eliminating the dangers inherent in their first deisgn. The first one was the high pressure water reactor that is the basis for every reactor that has been built to date. The second was a Molten Salt Reactor, uses molten salt which is a liquid fuel the runs at atmospheric pressure which makes it much cheaper to build, many orders of magnitude safer, and serveral times more efficient. You can remove the waste or add more fuel while its running, so it might never need to be shut down. Finally a fast neutron version of this design could burn all the 100,000’s tons of nuclear waste sitting around, even including the depleted uranium left over from the enrichment process. This would give all of humanity 100’s of years of cheap safe power. In fact the higher temerpatures means it could cheaply replace some industrial heat sources like making cement, synthesizing fuels, and even desalinating sea water. Too good to be true? More like saving our stupid butts just in time.

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