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Nuclear Energy The Third Energy Revolution

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Abstract

1. A complete list of available sources of energy, their suitability and impact on nature 2. How nuclear energy can provide what is needed 3. How a collective fear of nuclear technology has become established and how that can be overcome
1. A complete list of available sources of energy,
their suitability and impact on nature
2. How nuclear energy can provide what is needed
3. How a collective fear of nuclear technology has
become established and how that can be
overcome
10-11 Sept 2019 Sheffield University, Management School 1
Nuclear Energy
The Third Energy Revolution
Wade Allison
Emeritus Professor of Physics, Oxford
wade.allison@physics.ox.ac.uk
Life needs energy
We are damaging the environment and the future for our
children and fellow creatures.
I will look to pure science, history and common sense for
guidance.
1. Physical science confidence where maths and
axiomatic simplicity apply.
2. Biological science confidence where design of life
has been perfected by evolution over aeons of time.
3. History learning from understanding how we got
here.
4. Common sense keep it simple and avoid surplus
sophistication.
We need to tell the children, urgently.
10-11 Sept 2019 Sheffield University, Management School 2
Messages from physical science
1. Expect no new energy sources learn to use what we know
2. Energy is conserved it cannot be made. All fuel comes from
somewhere.
3. A concentration of potential energy may be used by letting it
run downhill
4. Similarly any moving material may be stopped for its kinetic
energy
5. Any viable source of fuel must be plentiful, stable, available
24/7 and have been delivered by a superior agent.
6. Such agents work on distinct time scales:
daily sunshine and tidal forces;
geological fossil fuels laid down by ancient growth;
primeval products of supernovae older than Earth.
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Most boulders have already
rolled downhill.
Exceptionally. such energy is
accessible.
Safety may conflict with
ease of access.
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Energy may
be unstable
and
dangerous
Low Dose Conference, Kielce17/18 Sept 2019 5
Energy and
stored energy
are no different
in principle
Energy density, J/kg or kWh/kg.
Simple potential and kinetic energy
Potential energy density = gh J/kg at height h.
For example, at h = 100 m: 981 J/kg= 0.981/3600 = 0.0003 kWh/kg
not realistic to consider much higher.
Far lower dams have presented major accidents and safety threats.
Kinetic energy density = ½ J/kg at speed V
For example V= 30 mph (13 m per s) ½  = 0.000027 kWh/kg
Compare ideal Wind Power at different speeds
mass per sq m per sec = V*density. Density = 1.3 kg/
watts per sq m =
V3*density = 330 watts per sq m at 30mph
2640 watts at 60mph; 41 watts at 15mph
Conclusion: cubic speed dependence of wind is a fundamental problem
Compare ideal Wind Power at 30 mph with Solar Constant
Wind 330 watts per sq m; solar constant 1300 watts per sq m
Conclusion: Wind and Solar power lie in the same range
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In search of greater energy density
These energy density figures apply to any material.
Heights over 100m and speeds over 60mph are not
routinely available and bring safety concerns.
Hot gas molecules have higher speeds (speed of sound).
For 200K temp rise, energy density of steam increases
400kJ/kg = 0.1 kWh/kg, but not a primary source.
Energy density of food printed on the package thus
“2018 kJ per 100g serving. That is 5.6 kWh/kg, some
20,000 times the energy density of wind or hydro.
Even 56 times super heated steam!
WHY? Where is the extra energy concealed?
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Quantum kinetic energy
All matter is described by a wave
with wavelength = h/mv, where
mv = momentum and
h= Planck's Constant
For a particle trapped in a box of
size L, the wavelength = 2L.
Thence kinetic energy: E = ½mv2 =h2/(8mL2) roughly
1) Each electron wave must fit within its atom. 10-10 m
the chemical/battery/laser/food energy scale is
E = 7 10-19 joules = 4 electron-volts = 7 kWh/kg for carbon
2) Each proton/neutron wave must fit within its nucleus. 10-15 m
the nuclear energy scale is
E = 3 10-12 joules = 20 million electron-volts
Just by putting in the numbers for each case
L
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Available sources of energy and their
relevance to the current environment
Classical: Kinetic and Potential Energy according to Newton
Moving and falling objects, motion of Sun and Moon, sunshine
Wind, hydro, tides, waves, solar
QA Quantum Atomic: Energy from atomic structure of all matter
Energy density many thousands times classical
Chemistry, food, electronics, fuel combustion, batteries, etc.
QN Quantum Nuclear: Energy from nuclear structure of all matter
Energy density some millions times QA
Fission, fusion (the Sun), radioactive decay, volcanic activity, etc.
Gravitational collapse (not now accessible on Earth)
Even greater energy density in supernova explosions etc.
Creation of all atomic nuclei heavier than iron, including the residual
unstable forms: U238, U235, Th232, K40.
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The development of life
Stages in the exploitation of these energy resources:
1. Plant life. No mobility, energy direct from sunshine.
2. Animal life. Mobility using food to fuel internal energy
production by digestion.
3. Early man. Supremacy by using intelligence and external
energy from other creatures and Classical Sources.
4. Industrial Revolution. Vast flowering of life with external
energy production on demand, fossil fuels QA.
5. Next Revolution. Global Warming and turbulent weather.
Need for new education and reformed use of intelligence.
Choice: Renewables = classical, fossil = QA, nuclear = QN
At stake:
the stability of the environment and the viability of life;
the doubling of life expectancy and quality of life achieved
since the Industrial Revolution.
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Animal era
(only own body)
Pre
-
industrial era
(“renewables”)
Industrial
Revolution
(chemical/carbon)
Next Revolution
nuclear.
fission, later fusion
Fuel Foraged food
Other creatures,
water, wind, solar,
vegetation
Fossil fuels
Uranium and
thorium
(later hydrogen)
Typical energy
density (kWh per
kg) 1 To 7 0.0003 1 to 7 20 million
Lifetime fuel per
person Life too short
Hydro: 10 million
tonnes over 100 m
dam (not available)
500 tonnes coal,
1800 tonnes CO2
emitted
1 kg = 1/1000
tonne
Points in favour No debate
Supremacy,
familiar,
accepted
24/7 availability,
standard of living
24/7 availability,
compact, resilient,
no harm to life or
nature
Points against Survival only
Intermittent,
weak (huge plant
damaging nature)
CO2 emissions,
poor safety
Popularly feared,
unfamiliar,
education lacking
Energy primed by
Daily sunshine Daily sunshine
ancient sunshine
ancient
gravitational
collapse
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Solar?
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Illustrated: a meadow, totally lost to nature,
near Abingdon UK (and proudly exhibited
by a totally misguided UK Government
department)
1. Not “green” in any way. Huge damaging
footprint, thanks to low energy flux.
2. Unreliable and intermittent with long
breaks on continental scales for weeks at a
time.
3. No viable intermediate battery storage
solution available, or conceivable, on the
scale required.
4. Vulnerable to major damage by extreme
weather events as occur in increasingly
turbulent atmosphere.
5. Quite short panel life, generating a major
unsolved waste problem.
“No” to solar as a major primary energy
source.
Resilience in a world with more turbulent weather
eg hurricane in Puerto Rico…
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1. With Low energy density and low
power flux, like solar, it requires
huge plant at the expense of the
environment. Not “green”
2. Unpredictable and variable output
make production highly unreliable.
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Wind?
3. Cubic dependence of power on wind speed
accentuates variability and makes for grid
“shock” when tripped at high speed
4. Capacity factor 22%, even off shore only 37%
“No” to Wind, as major primary energy source.
From p 18, “Wind Energy in Europe 2018” WindEurope.org
Energiewende
acknowledging
a failure
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Hydro?
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1. Very low energy density and large
environmental and social footprint.
Examples: Yangtze, Me Kong, Snake River
2. Although apparently available 24/7,
vulnerable to changes in rainfall including
climate change.
Example: Colorado River,
3. Safety. High loss of life recorded for dam
failure.
Example 230,000 (1975)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam
and threatened
http://www.ibtimes.com/california-oroville-
dam-evacuation-update-nearly-200000-
people-evacuate
also Whaley Bridge (Derbyshire2019)
4. Suitable locations are limited
“No” to a massive expansion of hydropower
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Need to accommodate fluctuating demand,
gas or batteries, if not renewables
Gas? As now, but carbon emissions and poor security
of foreign supplies (NordStream2, Middle East). No to
Gas
Energy storage? Scale needed:
eg UK 36 Gw for days, a million MWh, about 3 
joules.
Musk’s Australian lithium battery offers 129 MWh
Cost, replacement given battery life
Battery technology limited by basic science
only small gains conceivable
Safety of 3  joules?
One Hiroshima bomb 6.3  joules
Beware what you wish for. Battery accidents
predicted.
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2. How nuclear energy can provide
what is needed
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Animal era
(only own body)
Pre
-
industrial era
(“renewables”)
Industrial
Revolution
(chemical/carbon)
Next Revolution
nuclear.
fission, later fusion
Fuel Foraged food
Other creatures,
water, wind, solar,
vegetation
Fossil fuels
Uranium and
thorium
(later hydrogen)
Typical energy
density (kWh per
kg) 1 To 7 0.0003 1 to 7 20 million
Lifetime fuel per
person Life too short
Hydro: 10 million
tonnes over 100 m
dam (not available)
500 tonnes coal,
1800 tonnes CO2
emitted
1 kg = 1/1000
tonne
Points in favour No debate
Supremacy,
familiar,
accepted
24/7 availability,
standard of living
24/7 availability,
compact, resilient,
no harm to life or
nature
Points against Survival only
Intermittent,
weak (huge plant
damaging nature)
CO2 emissions,
poor safety
Popularly feared,
unfamiliar,
education lacking
Energy primed by
Daily sunshine Daily sunshine
ancient sunshine
ancient
gravitational
collapse
10-11 Sept 2019 Sheffield University, Management School 20
Demand fluctuations in an
all-nuclear solution
Steady production of nuclear power at a high level.
Excess power, when demand is lower, to be used for:
- desalinated water;
-hydrogen production for:
* to replace natural gas for gas grid;
* chemical industry;
* ammonia production for transport (land, sea, air);
vertical farming, 24/365 all-weather all-season local food
production, no food miles and no use of agricultural land;
No requirement for renewables.
The environment left free for recreation and re-wilding.
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-A massive switch to nuclear energy
changes to transport, agriculture, buildings, heating.
-Can a “free” society stand the stress of such
a rapid cultural change
its impact on governance, law, education, media?
-The need to maintain trust and confidence
and thence socio-economic stability.
-We have to engage with people’s motivation
at every level and by every means.
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Stopping carbon emissions
Nuclear energy is enormously powerful
that is ideal 1 kg for a lifetime
It is much safer than fire
first because of physics (the basic nuclear energy)
second because of biology (the impact of radiation)
It is avoided by many people
they have never been told the true story
politics and the media tell a more exciting story
But all should come to accept it
they already welcome it for personal health
they need to see the firm evidence
Children in school, students on courses
nuclear is their future
they should start studying to ensure their survival
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Physics ensures nuclear energy safe
Nuclei are kept apart by +ve charge and they never
meet except in lab experiments and
- once in 10 billion years in the Sun;
- frequently in supernova, neutron stars, etc
Only neutrons can penetrate into nuclei and cause a
reaction. But there are no neutrons in the wild,
because they decay with 10 min lifetime.
So nuclear reactions almost don’t happen.
Hence nuclear activity not discovered until 1896
Nuclei do almost nothing (except some rotate, hence
MRI)
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Electrical force keeping all nuclei apart
Electrical force between 2 hydrogen nuclei, charge e
Coulombs Law
Force = /
       
K = 9.0 SI units
Force = 230 N or 23 kg weight.
Only a neutral particle can beat this huge barrier
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Biology ensures nuclear radiation safe
Radiation ionises/breaks molecules easily,
but so does oxygen oxidation
Life on Earth evolved in a radioactive environment, even
greater in the past
So multi-level cellular protection:
quenching,
repair,
replacement,
surveillance by immune system.
Effective against both oxygen and radiation
If life had not found ways to be safe, we would not be
here. Nor would other forms, from single cellular
organisms to cabbages and kings.
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3. How a collective fear of nuclear
technology has become established
and how that can be overcome
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Fear of nuclear is self sustaining
-20th C military politics frightened as intended
- media exploit an exciting story like Fukushima but the
radiation did nothing.
- For 70 yrs the international safety industry appeased
fear with excessive precaution amplifying the fear
and they value their jobs!
- Nuclear industry values expensive contracts for
pointless safety work
-Public doesn’t understand
“Basic nuclear is too difficult for me” untrue!
“Sophisticatedit is not!
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As the story of King Canute relates the tide ignored the King's command
Science and the laws of nature are deaf to the authority of governments,
to the UN, to any legal decisions, majority votes and the influence of money
Understand, rather than follow the crowd
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Animals at Chernobyl are blissfully unaware!
Do they know something that we don’t?
But they know nothing!” Dr Watson might say, to which Sherlock Holmes might
reply “Quite so. But may be something that we think we know is not so.
Nuclear radiation is harmless at low and moderate doses.
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Conclusion confirmed by all available evidence
especially where people are unaware of the radiation:
Cancer in regions with high background
Fukushima www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-12860842
Chernobyl
Goiania
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Animal experiments and in vitro studies
A century of use in clinical medicine
An understanding of evolutionary biology
But this has not stopped courts and authorities making vast
payments to compensate for the self-fulfilling effects of fear.
Education and enlightened pubic information is the only
cure, but it will take time time we have not got.
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Radiation measurement
Only absorbed energy can affect life.
Absorbed radiation energy measured in Gray (or Sievert)
1 Gray is 1 Joule of absorbed energy per kg
in most cases 1 Gray = 1 Sievert.
Background radiation rate is about 2.3 mSv per year
Recommended additional ionising radiation limit
1 mSv per year
Compare recommended Ultrasound and MRI safety 1 W/kg.
The difference? Ionising radiation is absorbed in a tiny number of big
collisions instead of being spread uniformly as heat (Einstein 1905)
This quantum effect means that biology has to cope with a small
number of severely damaged atoms/molecules, the vast majority
being untouched.
In 3 billion years life has learnt how to isolate/repair/replace the
damage.
If it had not so learnt, we should not be here.
= 1/1000 * 1/secs per year = 30  
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Failure and stability of any system
designed with a resource-limited repair or replacement mechanism
where the significant stress is accumulated within a certain reaction or recovery time.
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Of 237 early firefighters 28 died in a few weeks of Acute Radiation Syndrome.
Crosses show their mortality (curve is for rats).
The numbers show died/total in each dose range.
Suggests a threshold of 2000-4000 mSv for ARS in an acute dose.
But what about cancer? And a chronic dose spread out over time?
Chernobyl early fire fighters
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Lifelong human data: Dial Painters
luminous watches and dials painted with radium paint
Bone cancer usually 1/400. Evidence for threshold: (Rowland 1997)
1339 painters with less than 10,000mGy, 0 cases [3 expected]
191 painters with more than 10,000mGy, 46 cases. [<1 expected]
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No malignancies
after 1926 when
practices changed.
No malignancies
with less than
3.7 MBq / 10,000 mGy
10-11 Sept 2019 Sheffield University, Management School 38
3/4 August 2016 BAPETEN, Jakarta slide 39
Mortality of beagle dogs given a whole-of-life
chronic whole-body dose of gamma rays
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Red circle, 40,000 mGy per month,
less than a radiotherapy dose rate
that kills a tumour
Yellow circle 20,000 mGy a month,
a survivable therapy dose rate to
healthy tissue near a treated tumour
Green circle 100 mGy per month,
a conservatively safe dose rate,
As High As Relatively Safe
(AHARS)
Small black dot 0.08 mGy per
month, [1 mSv per year]
an unreasonably cautious rate,
As Low As Reasonably Achievable
(ALARA) recommended by UN.
Monthly radiation dose rates
shown as areas of circles
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Marie Curie 1867-1934
Nobel Prizes Physics AND Chemistry
establishing basic evidence
in nuclear physics
But best known and loved for her
work on radiation in Medicine,
Diagnosis and Cancer Therapy
as used for over a century
Radiation doses cover a huge range:
LOW 0.2 mSv per month body, rocks, space
MEDIUM 10 mSv at once in a CT scan,
may be repeated perhaps weekly
HIGH 20,000 mSv per month, or more, in radiotherapy treatment. 1000mSv per day
Read “Marie Curie and Nuclear Power”
www.researchgate.net/publication/321020610_Marie_Curie_and_Nuclear_Power
Reassurance: radiation for personal health
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As Aesop's Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare illustrates
The natural protection of life, eg from ionising radiation, provided by slow
evolution wins easily against regulation determined by committee
Protection and safety by Darwinian evolution
or the deliberations of a UN committee
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A public relations failure Officials in protective gear
impress, but an open neck shirt and personal contact
would be more reassuring
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Radioactive waste is not a major problem
Much less of a problem than
personal waste:
Children trained from a very early age;
Vast quantity 1-2 kg/person/day;
Usually discharged into the environment;
Encourages contagious disease to
spread and multiply;
Worldwide death toll every year from
contaminated water in millions;
But a valuable waste product that
can be recycled as fertiliser.
Nuclear waste can be recycled too, but
death toll zero.
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Waste per person per day (UK)
weight pictured as volume of a canister
30 kg
CO2 waste
from fossil fuels
2 kg
biological
waste
1/4000 kg
high level nuclear waste
CO2 and burning:
Waste directly into air driving climate change.
Thermal chain reaction drives burning
-- many hundred thousand of deaths a year
Faeces and disease:
Direct to environment or reprocess
Biological chain reaction supports
disease -- millions of deaths a year
Nuclear waste: Small, can be contained and reprocessed
No one has died in a nuclear waste accident.
Further: radiation not “caught” like fire or infection
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Books with references
First book is an advanced student book published by Oxford (2006). Last two
are written in accessible language (2009 and 2015) and are available from
distributors https://www.ypdbooks.com/science-and-technology/1690-
wade-allison-special-book-pack-YPD01882.html and Amazon etc.
Also many articles, videos, lectures, tutorials, etc. free to download from
www.radiationandreason.com www.nuclear4life.com and researchgate.
END
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