June 29, 2006

Comparing nuclear power to coal for carbon dioxide

300,000 tonnes of CO2 would be emitted by the mining, milling, conversion, enrichment, and fuel fabrication of the uranium necessary to produce 1000 megawatts/year of electricity. A 1000 megawatt coal plant would generate 8.2 million tonnes of CO2, or 27 times more CO2 than the nuclear option.


Michael Anissimov said...

The new thorium plan for nuclear power plants sounds good. Meanwhile, solar panels are about to be mass-produced by nanosolar.

But does CO2 emission really matter when we'll have the means to regulate the atmosphere's chemical makeup on demand, in the near future?

bw said...

I am obviously very optimistic about technology and using technology to solve problems. However, if we can start doing things now that we know will definitely make things better then we should. There are lot of things that could happen or should happen that might not. It could take time to rollout the clean up tech, it may take longer than we expect for it to arrive, the investments to develop the cleanup tech.

Use the cleanup tech when we get it, too.

So far there seems to be minimal actual investment in clean up tech. Some experiments with carbon sequestering. But not much looks like it will make a dent in the billions of tons of CO2 being produced.

the solar shade ideas could work but there are many challenges to doing it and getting it right looks tricky.

full molecular nanotech could do it too. As we know there are not many people really working to get that.

what specific tech are you expecting and when ?

bw said...

I am also a supporter of use the tech that we got as best we can. Develop along several lines and especially push ahead with simple modifications to what works.

Nuclear fission works. Fixing some of its problems with thorium would be good. Plus liquid-fluoride thorium reactors coupled with helium gas-turbine power could be made pretty light for space usage.

The emit all we want cause we can clean it up is a risky plan. Similar to eat all you want and then get liposuction. Both could work. But the safer way to go is just eat right and exercise. Liposuction in case the weight still gets out of hand.

Robert Hargraves said...


I recommend you revisit to catch up on the latest advances in the liquid fluoride thorium reactor.

Also, with respect to solving the coal CO2 problem, look at the presentation at