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Nuclear Power in the U.S. A Key Component in Meeting Carbon-Free Energy Goals
The opportunity and potentially the money to upgrade, relicense, and create nuclear power plants are finally getting real notice from the government. The history of nuclear power if viewed from the perspective of safety and accidents can be seen as being actually extremely safe. Yes, accidents have happened but compared to the length of time nuclear power has been in use these are incredibly rare instances.
The carbon footprint of our current energy production needs to be reduced dramatically, yet, our demand for power is going up exponentially. Just look at the big push for electric vehicles. They still have to plug in to get recharged. Is that energy coming from coal or gas-fired power plants? This opportunity to revitalize the nuclear power industry is the answer to reducing our carbon footprint.
There is no substitute for power. Where does this power come from? Oil, gas, coal, water, wind, solar, biomass, and nuclear. As we move ever forward in the development of clean energy our power needs are increasing every year and far outweigh the ability for water, solar, and wind to fully provide the requirements demanded of the global energy grid. Just the effort in reducing pollution by replacing gas-driven vehicles with electric will result in a huge uptick in demand. Where is the power coming from that recharges the batteries in these vehicles? From the power grid fueled by existing energy production.
The solution is nuclear power. However, nuclear power is currently fission-based with its own risks and waste materials, this is not the ultimate solution.
Currently, the power grid in the United States is fueled by:
It is obvious by looking at this chart the primary non-renewable energy sources are enormous and conceiving their full replacement by wind and solar does not currently seem possible.
Expanding nuclear power is a reasonable solution to producing clean renewable energy. Fission power is a known technology for producing power, requiring highly toxic chemicals which are mined and, in their acquisition, and in the processing required to produce fissile material, expensive. Although fission-fueled nuclear power is a non-carbon producer it also has the critical tradeoff of radioactive waste disposal.
Fusion nuclear power is a clean option using hydrogen derived from water as fuel resulting in no waste or pollution. Globally, many efforts are currently working on bringing fusion power into a viable energy production solution. This eventuality is considered many years down the road.
MIFTI (Magneto Inertial Fusion Technologies, Inc.), a US Nuclear Corp partner, has developed a new type of fusion energy production that will bring fusion power to the marketplace years earlier than other efforts. MIFTI has developed a unique and cutting-edge design for producing fusion power. It will be available for SMR’s (small modular reactors), a current nuclear energy solution proposed using fission-produced nuclear power. The MIFTI design is a clean energy solution without producing waste.
Vehicles for space exploration require fuel that is not solid or liquid. The new US Space Force requires a clean, high-powered, compact, and safe energy source for spacecraft propulsion. It is currently looking at nuclear power, however, the downside of fission-based nuclear power is the risk, expense, and waste disposal. Fusion power, the power that fuels the sun, derived from water is the solution. Fusion-based nuclear power will eventually replace the non-renewable energy resources in use today.
Drinking water is always at risk. The EPA states ‘The Safe Drinking Water Act defines the term “contaminant” as meaning any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter in water. Therefore, the law defines “contaminant” very broadly as being anything other than water molecules. Drinking water may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. Some drinking water contaminants may be harmful if consumed at certain levels in drinking water while others may be harmless. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk.’
Surface water from lakes, rivers, reservoirs, and groundwater is the primary source of drinking water in the United States. Typically drinking water is treated before moving into the municipal delivery system from which at least 80% of the U.S. population receives drinking water. Approximately 14% of the population relies on private groundwater wells, cisterns, and springs.
Treated water is subject to the EPA Safe Drinking Water Act and goes through treatment protocols to ensure safety to the public. Private water is primarily in rural areas and is not regulated as is municipal water. The safety of private water is solely the responsibility of the owner. If any regulation is required it is on a limited state basis.
There are many sources of potential contamination for drinking water, municipal or private. Naturally, occurring contamination can pose a health risk: bacteria, viruses, nitrate, arsenic, chromium, and fluoride. Radiological contaminants such as uranium, radium, and radon are naturally present in rock formations, subsequently ending up in the water supply.
Other water contamination sources can include:
Improper waste disposal from hospitals, research facilities, etc.
Treatment or leakage from storage sites.
Discharges from factories, industrial sites, or sewage treatment facilities.
Leaching from aerial or land application of pesticides and fertilizers on yards or fields.
Fracking mining from both mining practices and fracking wastewater disposal being reinjected into deep geologic formations via wells specifically designed for that purpose, which in turn contaminates groundwater tables.
Accidental chemical spills.
Underground storage tank leakage.
Improper disposal of household wastes such as cleaning fluids, paint, and motor oil.
Without appropriate detection, monitoring, and remediation drinking water is always at risk. US Nuclear Corp’s division, Technical Associates, has developed a suite of water detectors providing detection and monitoring of radiological, chemical, and biological contamination. This includes both freshwater, well water, saltwater, and wastewater. These instruments are continuously real-time installed and portable.
The question when introducing US Nuclear Corp’s real-time continuous water monitors to municipal water utilities is, ‘why do we need an instrument like this? We don’t have radiation in our drinking water or wastewater.’
Our question is ‘how do you know if you don’t monitor the water’. Typical monitoring is 4 times a year per EPA’s Clean Water Act. A water sample is pulled and sent to a lab for testing. Not a very timely or cost-effective method.
By Penelope Randall, Environmental Specialist, US Nuclear Corp
Hydrofracking demands for water use is up 770 percent since 2011 according to a 2018 peer reviewed study out of Duke University. The use of millions of gallons of water and sand infused with up to 1,000 different toxic chemicals is used to fracture shale rock and release the trapped gas or oil.
The wastewater, brine, and sludge are then returned to the surface and in need of disposal. Unfortunately, there is not yet a clear and safe method of disposal or storage. In many places this wastewater is reinjected into deep underground wastewater wells. There is mounting evidence that this method of disposal may be responsible for earthquakes and pollution of groundwater in some locations. The exponential growth of the hydrofracking industry and its practices constitutes a growing problem.
Comments Off on Nuclear Fusion Z-Pinch Progress with Staged Z-Pinch LTD 10MA Generator
The University of Reno Nevada National Terawatt Facility and commercial company, US Nuclear and MIFTEC, were able to generate the most powerful neutron flux from fusion power ever achieved by a private company. They will scale up to a 10 MegaAmp version of their machine. This will have ten times the amperate and should generate 100 times the neutron flux. They expect to generate a neutron flux of trillioin which is clearly greater than the 10 billion required to produce commercial quantities of critical, low-cost radioisotopes that are in short supply. MIFTEC has contracted with a leading design engineer from a National Lab and has already completed the plans for its first commercial machine called the Staged Z Pinch (SZP) LTD-X (linear transformer driver-X) 10 MegaAmp generator.
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Independent Test Lab Evaluates Instrumentation for Detecting Radiation in Drinking Water
Since 9/11 and there are still holes in the security of the nation’s infrastructure, particularly for drinking water. This security deficit is currently being addressed in some community water systems with water monitoring instruments.