Friday, April 13, 2007

Nuclear powered cars are emissions free

or or
Some ways to generate electricity for electric cars

Electric cars are emissions free, unless the electric power they use comes from coal power plants. Electric cars are becoming available, and more are planned.

2010 Chevrolet Volt Electric Vehicle

Chevrolet will produce the Volt EV in the 2010-2012 time frame. It is powered by electricity from batteries that will allow the car to travel 40 miles on a single overnight charge. It also has a range extending internal combustion engine designed to run on gasoline, E85, or biodiesel fuels. The engine will give the drivers the confidence to venture out in a electric car, knowing they can drive even if the batteries run out. The turbo-charged three-cylinder engine provides 71 hp, and the electric motor can provide 161 hp. If you commute only 40 miles a day you can save 500 gallons of gasoline a year, saving $1200 after netting out the cost of electricity against $3 gasoline.

2008 Tesla Roadster Electric Car

This sports car can do 0-60 in about 4 seconds. Tesla Motors estimates 250 miles per charge, at a cost for electricity of about 1 cent per mile. Costing $92,000 it will not attract enough consumers to solve the US energy crisis, but it will be fun to drive.

2007 Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid shown to Bush

Consumers can today buy aftermarket conversion kits and batteries to allow cars such as the Toyota Prius to travel 20 miles on electric power alone. California is leading the nation in promoting plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Buying Nuclear Power for Cars

Originally conceived to lower energy costs through competition, electric deregulation has allowed consumers the choice of energy suppliers, and many choose "green" sources like wind power, or cow power (methane generated). Consumers pay a premium of about $0.04 per kilowatt-hour.

"Inconvenient Truth" Al Gore was criticized for the high energy consumption at his residence mansion, but his retort was that all his energy was purchased from "green" sources, so that he was not contributing to global warming. Providing a nuclear power purchasing option can similarly benefit the nuclear power industry, particularly if some electric vehicle fleets could be promoted as using clean, safe nuclear power.

I'd like to drive a car with a "Nuclear Powered" sign. Consumers today can not choose nuclear power. Nuclear power plant operators should file the necessary tariffs and enter into contracts with distribution utilities so that a consumer could indeed buy nuclear power for recharging his vehicle.

Melt-down-proof pebble bed reactors may be the power source for the future US automobile fleet.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Germany built the first pebble bed reactor

Demonstration of inherently safe AVR shutdown

The pebble bed reactor is an intrinsically safe because the chain reaction diminishes as the fuel temperature rises. This has been demonstrated. The experimental Arbeitsgemeinschaft Versuchsreaktor (AVR) was built in Germany in 1960. Dr. Rudolf Schulten was the originator of the pebble bed reactor design. The experimental AVR at the Julich Research Center operated at 46 megawatt thermal power, about 13 negawatt electric. The safety test was performed in 1970 by stopping the cooling and preventing the control rods from activating. The temperature rose, Doppler broadening absorbed neutrons in U238, the chain reaction slowed, temperatures fell, and the unit stabilized at 300 kilowatts.

HTR-300 Cooling Tower

Germany also built a second pebble bed reactor, the THTR-300, which generated 300 megawatts when it achieved full power operation in 1989. THTR stands for Thorium High Temperature Reactor; it uses thorium to enrich the uranium fuel. Thorium is fertile in that it is not itself very radioactive but can be transformed into uranium fuel. The Th232 absorbs a neutron from the chain reaction of U235 decay, and then the Th233 decays into U233, which is a fissile element that participates in the chain reaction. Thorium is three times as plentiful as uranium in the earth's crust.

In 1986 an operator error caused some of the pebbles to be fractured and the helium gas lock to be jammed. An unknown amount of radioactive materials were released. The THTR-300 was shut down in 1989 following public concerns arising from the Chernobyl accident. Since then Germany has decided to shut down all its nuclear power plants.