Thursday, January 22, 2009

The LFTR Advantage

My Oil Drum post has grabbed some attention. Oil Drum posts are widely reported by RSS feeds, and they are often echoed by other energy related blogs. This is the case for my latest post. The terms Liquid Thorium Fluoride Reactor, LFTR and LFTR paradigm are beginning to pop up on internet searches, independently of comments by the LFTR community of interest. There are not enough independent commenters yet, to give the story wings, but enough to be encouraged. I am vain enough to take pleasure at my name being bandied about on the Internet. My favorite comment comes from brickmuppet blog,
Nuclear Green Charles Barton, who seems to be either a cool curmudgeon, or a rational hippy, talks about energy policy and the terrible environmental consequences of not going nuclear.
Comments in response to my last Oil Drum post were not nearly as hostile as previous pro-nuclear posts drew. In no small measure this was because I made clear the distinction between LFTR technology and LWR technology. Some of the LFTR critics complained that the LFTR would create too much energy and therefore would lead to overpopulation, resource depletion and environmental problems. This is implausible. Poor people in underdeveloped economies increase their wealth by having children whose labor enriches their families. People in advanced economies increase their wealth through continued education that qualified them for better jobs. Educated women for the most part prefer holding jobs to having large families. The reproduction rates of many economically advanced countries is below population replacement levels.

Resource consumption drops in advanced economies with mature infrastructures. More emphasis is placed on convenience and portability than on material mass. I am writing on an iMac, a powerful computer not much larger or heavier than a LCD screen. The iMac also consumes less power, but possesses computing power that far exceeds that of massive super computers of a generation ago. That is in fact far more computing power than I really need. So am I going to buy a more powerful, lighter, and less power draining computer when it comes in the market? Yes! I am a citizen of an advanced civilization, a dedicated consumer of small resource consuming consumer items. Nothing would please me more that replacing my Honda Accord with a small two seater plugin hybrid, powered by a 400 HP electric motor.

All the critics of advanced, high energy economies scorn WalMart shoppers. They shop, of course, at REI. But let me ask this, how many WalMart shoppers are terrorists? If you are a terrorist aren't you going to prefer REI to WalMart? The best way to fight the spread of terrorism is to spread WalMarts to underdeveloped countries, and to provide local consumers with the electricity needed to plug in all those 42" LED TV sets. People who are watching 42" TV sets are not going out to riot, or set off truck bombs. Mark my words, the low energy route will encourage terrorism. The day everyone in the world shops at Walmart or Target and REI shuts down is the day when world peace will break out! That day is not going to come about because of windmills or photovoltaic technology, but can be produced by electricity flowing 24 hours a day, from LFTRs all over the world.


donb said...

Charles Barton wrote:
Some of the LFTR critics complaineds that the LFTR would creat too much energy and therefor would lead to over population, resource depletion and environmental problems. This is implausible.

Folks of this ilk have been around a long time, in my knowledge at least to the early Christian era if not the ancient Greeks. They are the type who view the material world and therefore its use as corrupt. That some people may use the physical world to promote their own bad objective does not make the physical word evil.

My religious background tells me that I am to stay "detached" from the material world, but also that it is my duty to use it responsibly for my (spiritual) good and the good of others.

Certainly we are not going to stop using energy. So the trick then is to come up with the best sources of energy. For most energy needs, nuclear wins hands down, and the LFTR looks to be the best nuclear option.

Marcel F. Williams said...

"Some of the LFTR critics complaineds that the LFTR would creat too much energy and therefor would lead to over population, resource depletion and environmental problems. This is implausible."

Of course in reality, the wealthiest nations have the slowest population growth. Ending poverty and advancing woman's rights is the best way to prevent over population.

Marcel F. Williams

Khosrow A.A. said...

Dear Charles,

Could you please announce your reference for the 16-20 M man-hour need for construction of AP-1000? Do you have any guesses, references for any other reactors?

I am a researcher at UMD working on economizing small modular nuclear plants. You can email me at "kaa" a/t "umd" d/o/t "edu".

I look forward to your reply.



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