Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Zero Waste Nuclear Reactors - Phase 3



In order to create a zero waste nuclear reactor, the process of fusion needs to take place. The most common type is the fusion of two hydrogen isotopes: deuterium (2H) and tritium (3H). It is the easiest fusion reaction to achieve[1]. A model of this fusion reaction is found at http://library.thinkquest.org/17940/texts/fusion_dt/fusion_dt.html.






However, even with this reaction, radioactive waste is created by the neutron that is cast off. Research has been underway to form the fusion process by using deuterium and helium-3. This process produces very little in the way of waste and looks like a promising technology[2].






The issue with this technology is the availability of helium-3. It is not in abundant supply naturally.






If this technology could be harnessed and made compact, current technologies indicate that the reactor could be the size of a bathtub[1].







A vision of the future could be, if the technology could be made compact enough as well as economically viable, would be to have one located in every household. Image the possibilities if you could essentially have in your house a 50 year power supply to power your house, electric car, etc. Not having to worry about balckouts. Below, I present an sketch of that model. The model is not that exciting since the concept would be a sealed unit that you set in the corner and forget.





References


1. http://library.thinkquest.org/17940/texts/fusion_dt/fusion_dt.html. Retrieved 9/17/08.


2. Zucchetti, M., Sugiyama, L. (2006). Advanced fuel cycles for fusion reactors: Passive safety and zero-waste options. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 41(1). 496-501.



Monday, September 15, 2008

Zero Waste Reactors - Phase 2

Nuclear Fission Reactors Create A Lot of Waste




In looking at Zero Waste Reactors, one must first understand the issues with current technology. The image to the left is the typical process for a nuclear reactor[1]. In the process of making energy the fuel rods become polluted by the fission process that the nuclear reaction process stops. In the US this spent rod now has to be disposed of and stored. The flow below depicts the once through cycle used within the US[1].


Other countries allow the spent fuel rod
s to be re-processed and used again. This process recovers and additional 30-40% more fuel. In the US this process was largely banned until recently because the by-product of the re-processing is weapons grade plutonium, which if stolen, could be used to produce nuclear weapons. The re-processing flow is depicted in the figure below[1].

What to do with the waste

A storage cycle has been created for both short-term and long-term storage of nuclear waste. First is the water pool, where the fuel rods are s

tored where they gradually cool. However, there is a shortage of storage pools, so a dry storage system was created to augment. Th

ese are shown in the pictures below[2].

For long-term storage the US has plans to create a massive tunnel system under the Yucca Mountain Range.

yucca_tunnel.jpg


Associated Risks

One of the main issues with the current nuclear technology in the US is the sheer amount of highly radioactive waste the is produced and needs to be stored. Current technology allows for re-processing of the fuel rods to extend their live and reduce the waste but many political issues must be overcome.

In the next blog I will look at a new technology that is being studies, fusion reactors. These fusion reactors claim to generate no or very little highly radioactive waste.
References


1. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/08/Sch%C3%A9maDechetsNucleaires_en.svg. Retrieved 9/15/08.

2. http://library.thinkquest.org/17940/texts/images/storagepool.jpg. Retrieved 9/15/08.









Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Technology Prediction - "Zero waste Nuclear Reactors"

My area of focus for technology innovations over the next 20-25 years would be a "zero-waste nuclear reator." Typically, there is no arguement that nuclear power is a clean alternative way to produce electricity. However, the most pressing issue with using nuclear power is what to do with the waste. Today, the highly radioactive waste is stored in barrels which are encased in concrete, buried in salt caves, or even sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

Before the use of nuclear power can reach the levels of service required to support the planet, the issue of the waste must be dealt with. If we can process the fuel in such a way that at the end, there is no radioactive waste to dispose of, nuclear power could begin to approach mainstream usage.

In future blogs, I will explore this topic in more depth.

Podcast - Flickr

Here is my attempt at a podcast for Flickr. I have also included the text as well.
http://web.splashcast.net/preview/?s=JYCG4183CM

This podcast is my evaluation of Flickr. Flickr is a web2.0 tool that allows people to upload and share photos online. At first, I was skeptical as to what I would find at Flickr, but was surprised by the overall quality of the photos submitted. In the past, I had experienced similar sites with very poor quality and lets say somewhat questionable subject matters. On Flickr I found a wide-range of photos that were more inline with professional quality.

Overall I found the site very easy to use and navigate. After a short free account set-up, I was up and running. Since Flickr is associated with or uses a Yahoo account, I need to remember yet another username and password.

The other topic that I was interested in was could I control who could look at my online content. I was glad to see that Flickr incorporated full control over the photo sharing. You can choose to share the photos with just you, your friends and contacts, certain groups (I liken them to communities of interest), all the way to everyone on Flickr.

Overall I thought Flickr was very well laid out, but one capability I wish they would incorporate is the ability to subscribe to a community of photos and have them automatically synchronized to your computer so they could be used as wallpaper.

Monday, August 25, 2008

web 2.0 tool evaluation - Ebay

Thoght I'd get a quick blog in prior to my flight. I'm currently in Los Angeles and blogging using my Blackberry (which is an interesting feat). Now that I know that the blackberry works, it makes it much easier to keep up with the blog activity.

Previously I had read that Ebay is considered a Web2.0 application (I believe that o'reilly is the source). I must say that I disagree. If you take the purpose of web2.0 is to eanble collaboration, ebay does not enable that. Ebay created a portal in which people can buy asn sell products. The general premise is that a person list the product and often a minimum price that they are willing to accept, and the bidding (auction) processes starts. After a certain time if the seller'terms are met, the item is sold. I don't view that as collaboration. Their is no exchange of viewpoints, perhaps if bidders could poste comments while the bidding process is going on and therby influencing the overall value of the item then perhaps. But as it stands, I don't think this passes the giggle test of.a Web2.0 app.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Failed Prediction




I like this failed prediction just do to the sheer size and scope of the statement:



“To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth - all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances.” — Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, in 1926



It only took 43 years to prove this false, when the US did it in 1969. But is this a failed prediction or is this a statement from a man outside of his field of expertise? Additional information can be found at: http://space.about.com/od/apollo11videos/Apollo_11_Videos_Videos_of_the_Apollo_11_Mission.htm



video

Successful Prediction??




Without starting a religious war -- My successful prediction is Dr. King "predicting" that "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." 45 years later we have the first viable black candidate for President.



To read the entire transcript of the speech go to: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm




To hear the audo of the speech go to:






This brings up some interesting questions regarding predictions:





1. Is this a prediction or a political statement of hope (is there a difference)


2. What constitutes this prediction becoming true? If Obama wins the White House is it true, even though race discrimination still occurs?


3. Did he intend it for just this country or the entire world? (Because race and ethnic issues are very much alive)