Archive for Nuclear

The Reactor Renaissance

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is a new form of nuclear reactor that shows promise. It uses fusion energy instead of the status quo uranium. The reactor produces more energy through plasma physics and is a lot safer than uranium reactors. The Chernobyl accident, excess toxic nuclear waste, and uranium mining health effects are all 300px-ITER-img_0239negative aspects that come from the current reactors. The Chernobyl nuclear meltdown killed many lives. The excess toxic waste is hurting the environment and the government is forced to dump it all in the Yucca Mountain which might be fatal because it is said to leak. Uranium mining also hurts the lives of Native Americans because they’re forced to work in these dark dusty mine shafts where toxic uranium if filling up in their lungs—causing lung cancer. The ITER reactor is currently used by the French and is developing in India. The program is the cornerstone to powerful international relations and is key to science diplomacy. If the United States is to retain its power hegemonic status, then science diplomacy needs to be kept alive with the ITER reactor. The major setback is its current funding and development. Congress appropriated money and funds to the project, but its just not enough to support the project. The cost-benefit analysis needs to be implemented to understand and use the promising reactor in the near future.  The recent disaster in Japan with the Daiichi nuclear power plant shows the uncertainty of the nuclear renaissance. The radiation leaks and toxic wastes proves more of a reason why nuclear energy should be perfected with better reactors to restore faith in investors.

-Nicholas Chan

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When you were a child, you most likely heard your parents talk to you alot about cleaning up after yourself when you eat, play, or do anything that may be messy. Alot of officials haven’t been listening to their parents. In the age of rapid modernization and “Empire”, the aim of most countries is to gain hegemony or global influence through economical means. They choose to go about their goals by building more to strengthen their economies, but they find it unnecessary to analyze their methods and the effects of them. This is exact problem that Dubai finds itself in at the moment. While their skyline is one of the most beautiful of the middle eastern area, the ground is a whole different story. The challenge of water is evolving to much more than just a problem: due to the recent growth much of their water has been tainted by waste and unfortunately the water treatments plants in the area don’t have the energy to clean all of it up. To respond to this problem, Dubai has decided to increase its erudition in nuclear energy. This venture seeks to solve the problem of desalination, and the lack of energy for the new buildings. It’s necessary to clean up after yourself, and, in fact, plan out clean up before you begin your endeavor.

-Jesse Anyalebechi

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The Man on the Moon

coperWith the rising consumption of fossil fuels, a gas from the moon is becoming a promising potential source. Mineral samples known as Helium-3 (H3) are similar to the natural gas sources we use at home. Unfortunately, the amount of H3 on Earth doesn’t come close to the almost infinite resource on the moon. When H3 fuses with deuterium the reaction produces energy that we can use on Earth. Just 25 tons alone can power the United States for almost a year. The process of H3 extraction involves collecting various samples of moon soil and rocks. Once collected, a high temperature of almost 800 degrees Celsius is able to produce a tone of helium. The moon has about one million tons of helium 3 enough to last us a lifetime. Compared to fossil fuels, the moon contains 10 time more energy from H3 sources. One major setback to the project is the reactor technology that will take time, money, and effort to develop. It is noted that the process and test trials will take almost another 30 years. Scientists say that by 2050, the Earth will run out of fossil fuel sources, so determined development and funding for the experimental reactor might be risky, but it might be the only solution to our huge problem that might end all life on Earth.

-Nicholas Chan

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High School Congressional Debate Helps Encourage Discussion on Environmental Topics

Although Nuclear Fission has become a somewhat established source of energy, the potentially more efficient Nuclear Fusion source is still being developed.

Voluntary Carbon Offsets aimed torwards the general public do little to help with decreasing Carbon-Dioxide levels.

BP’s A+ for Energy grant has recognized the green debate team two years now for encouraging discussion on alternative energy among other topics concerning the environment. In the past, we’ve created environmental legislation for high school congressional debate under the guidelines of the Texas Forensic Association (TFA), the official high school speech and debate organization in Texas. As a result, we have encouraged high school students all across Texas to debate and discuss environmental issues. This year is no different, as we have submitted two pieces of legislation concerning nuclear fusion energy and carbon offsets aimed at the general public.

Our first piece of high school speech and debate legislation calls for the United States government to increase funding in nuclear fusion energy research. Nuclear fission, the more well know type of nuclear energy, has been proven to be commercial viable, but nuclear fusion is still being developed. Currently, although the United States has some involvement in international projects, such as the International Fusion Energy Agreement (IFEA), it lags behind in its own research. Simply put, the United States is a major producer of carbon-dioxide, so it must take up the responsibility of actively working to improve its own energy infrastructure instead of waiting for the technology to be developed by other countries.

Our second piece of legislation calls for the United States to ban the sale of carbon-offsets aimed at the general public. Companies and even environmental organizations that sell these types of carbon-offsets have been found to not live up to their claims. The issue of whether it would better to approach climate change through adaption versus mitigation has been a much debated issue, but there are some actions that are just obviously not right for us to take. People have been essential scammed for buying these types of carbon-offsets. The United States needs to stop these types of actions so it can put its efforts into more viable solutions that deal with climate change.

So, what do you think about nuclear fusion power and voluntary carbon-offsets? Post your comments below and tell us what you think.

By Anthony Phung

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              As we all know Homer Simpson is a fictional character that works in a nuclear power plant. Though Homer may be fictional nuclear energy is not. There is a big debate going on about what energy we should look into expanding. Nuclear energy is the way that we should go. It is a very real and very efficient energy in which we should all look into.

                On The Simpsons, Homer’s place of work is plagued with calamities, but what we must realize is that this is a direct reflection of the incident in Chernobyl, Russia. The tragic accident is the same reason why the United States hasn’t funded the expansion of nuclear energy. But over the past 13 years we have still been able to produce 788.6 billion kilowatt-hours yearly. The French have also been able to use nuclear energy with minimal accidents. About 75% of the electricity in France is generated from nuclear power.

                Nuclear power is also better for the environment. Unlike coal, nuclear power doesn’t release carbon dioxide into the environment. Though some would view wind and solar energy as more efficient, the truth is that neither one of these sources of energy would be able to make as much energy as nuclear power, and the money it would take to fuel the expansions of those energies is much more than what it would take to expand nuclear power.

                The decision is simple we should switch to nuclear energy.

-Funmilayo Amubieya

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Thanks to all

Thanks to all the people who contributed to the blog in order to make it a success. All these posts help keep us high up inside of the competition this was made for, and so now we have made it to the top 10 because of it. The team is now able to send some students to New York to the United Nations Headquarters in order to learn more about helping out the environment.

As such, this is most likely the last update until late into the next school year, when we continue to all work together on these green activities. Until then, thanks once more to all the people that have contributed. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without you guys.

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Nuclear Power: The New Coal?


smiley-nukeRecently, there’s a bit of a craze over finding alternative energies to power the lifestyles which we live today. Many people look towards wind power, solar energies, and even algae gas. The answer to our dilemma however, may lie, quite literally, in front of our noses. Nuclear Power has been around for awhile, and yet, people are still cautious of the power which is cheap, efficient, and effective.

While Petroleum from other nations costs around $700 billion annually, nuclear power would only cost a fraction of that. While Coal requires that it be burned constantly to generate heat and electricity, releasing a large amount of coal ash in the process, Nuclear energy only requires that a steady stream of particles be fired at an element, commonly uranium. This process releases a large amount of energy which can then be used to power our lifestyles. In fact, the sun also uses this process to power itself as our source of light and heat.
When compared directly next to coal author Ben Bova states, “If you count up the number of people killed in coal mine disasters or oil well accidents and the wars being fought over oil, nuclear power looks positively benign. Then there are the natural gas and propane explosions that kill hundreds each year and destroy millions of dollars’ worth of property.” Even worse the Environmental Protection Agency states that coal-fired plants in the United States annually cause 24,000 early deaths – including 2,800 from lung cancer. According to the EPA, emissions of fine particle pollution (or soot) resulted in an average loss of 14 years of life for the victims, along with 38,200 non-fatal heart attacks and 534,000 asthma attacks each year.
Not only would the energy stored in that penny-sized bit of uranium be enough to heat your house for one heating season, it would be enough to heat the average house for more than six years! In fact, a single pickup load of U235 has the equivalent energy of the coal carried in 36,500 large coal cars. So what keeps us from using nuclear power as the main source of energy? The answer is simple, people are still under a nuclear scare since the accident in Chernobyl that resulted in the deaths of 140,000 people, while causing 270,000 cancer cases and 93,000 fatal cases of cancer. However, many people seem to believe that all nuclear power plants have remained the same and that there have been no advances in fail safes which prevent accidents.
Nuclear Power can power our future, but in order to do so, we must first dispel the myths and recognize the truths.
– Dennis Chau

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Thorium Leads a Nuclear Renaissance

As the nuclear renaissance approaches, there has been concerns about the safety of nuclear power and its current reactors. An abundance of plants have erected all around the country, but health concerns such as cancer, unsafe waste dumping, and toxic contamination has risen. Thus, a new form of reactor has caught the eye of many people. Thorium power, the reactors and power of the future. Currently, nuclear power uses uranium which is imported from parts around the world, but the waste produced is said to be toxic and unsafe, but a transition to thorium power can change all of that.

The waste produced from thorium is proliferation resistant and serves the same purpose as current day uranium. Fossil fuels are being burned and emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere contributing to global warming, but in order to transition to new green technologies, we have to keep in mind the safety and concerns of everyday consumers. The amount of potential overlooked is appalling because a transition to a safer and cleaner energy source can change the United States. It has been seventeen years since its discovery and this clean spent fuel can change the lives we all live.

Currently the Yucca Mountain, a storage site for nuclear waste is being filled with toxic chemicals, but smooth transition to thorium can change all of that. The dangers with the Yucca Mountain is that earthquakes are likely to occur around the region and if something were to happen, toxic waste would cover states at a time. A cleaner spent fuel not only can prevent signs of dangerous skin cancer, but can prevent toxic natural disasters from occurring in the near future.

Thorium power has a promising future in our society, but lack of investment and whereabouts of the new technology is devastating. New incentives such as loan guarantees can attract investors into researching and developing the technology.

-Nicholas Chan

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Safe Nuclear Energy?

Written by Ayesha Malik

Hyperion Power ModuleIs there such a thing as clean, cheap and safe nuclear energy? In this growing energy crisis, Hyperion Power Generation has attempted this with the creation of the Hyperion Power Module. The description of the Hyperion Power Module is pretty Utopian; it is a small reactor placed underground that has zero emissions and only needs to be refueled every few years and one can power 25,000 homes or more for approximately 5 years. In a sense, it sounds too good to be even be true. If Hyperion Power Modules are that efficient then why hasn’t there been Research & Development or federal funding for the project? Two words. Public perception.

In the eyes of the public, nuclear energy doesn’t look too good, considering the negative connotations attached to the words “nuclear” and “reactors” for the lack of safety, which can be seen by previous accidents with nuclear power plants, like the Chernobyl Disaster of 1986. Also, questions have arised that neither representatives from Hyperion or nuclear power experts can answer, like ‘does it produce waste?’, ‘where does the waste go?’, ‘can the reacor be dug up and used to produce a makeshift bomb from the materials?’ or ‘where will the uranium to power the modules come from?’. Despite how safe and regulated Hyperion Power Generation claims the reactor is, the Hyperion Power Module still has a long way to go in order to fix its unsafe image. Looks like it’s time for the Hyperion PR team to do some image magic.

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