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Re: Just barely off topic: Can Nuclear Energy ever be "sustainable?"

Just barely off topic: Can Nuclear Energy ever be "sustainable?"Using the "ideal" definition, just like everything else, the answer is no.
Just the fact the atoms are undergoing fission are destroyed, means
raw material is lost. So you are left with stating a definition and
comparing nuclear power to that definition.

Couple of things to consider:

1. Under current systems, there is waste that can not be reused or recycled, ie Yuca Flats.
2. There is water and air pollution. Compared to coal, there is no contest, but it is there.
3. There are energy considerations to prepping the cores, but if the energy comes from
nuclear power, that goes away.
4. Do you count the energy lost during delivery of the electricity as a bad thing knowing that
happens with all sources that come in bulk?

The biggest thing to answer, is it sustainable compared to the alternatives? It is
probably the closest to sustainable (considering bulk solar is not here yet).

Henry Boyter, Jr., PhD
Director of Research
Institute of Textile Technology
NCSU College of Textiles
Box 8301
2401 Research Drive
Raleigh, NC 27695-8301

----- Original Message ----- From: Butner, R Scott
To: P2 Tech list serve
Sent: Thursday, September 06, 2007 4:49 PM
Subject: Just barely off topic: Can Nuclear Energy ever be "sustainable?"

Fellow P2TECH-ies -- Well, can it?
And if the answer is "yes" -- what would it take to make it so?
These are not idle musings on the part of a scruffy, distractable, overweight nerd, either.
Nope. Not idle in the least.
(The rest is pretty much spot on, of course.)
I ask these questions because I've been approached about making a presentation on this topic at a conference which is coming up later this fall, and wish to gather some informed perspectives on the subject. As I often do when faced with a question that's over my head, technically, I've come to P2TECH in hopes of finding some bits of wisdom. And maybe some viewpoints that challenge my own.
I recognize this is an open-ended question -- I think by now we all have a grasp of what the notion of sustainability means, but am not sure I've seen anything really robust in terms of quantifiable definitions.
Yes, I'm aware of any number of sustainability metrics and indicators that have been used (and in fact plan to use them prominently in my talk).
But most of these metrics allow for more wiggle room than my most comfy blue jeans, now that I've lost 22 lbs.
(had to sneak that in there, somewhere!)
So consider it an invitation to open-ended answers, as well.
If you have an opinion regarding either question: whether nuclear power CAN be sustainable, or what it would take to MAKE it sustainable -- I'm eager to hear it. If I end up using your ideas in my talk, I'll be sure to provide appropriate attribution.
The conference is in mid-November, but I'd be especially interested in comments I receive early enough to incorporate into a broader framework -- say, Oct 1.
I'll be sure to share the presentation with any who wish to see it, once it's been prepared.
Thanks in advance,
Scott Butner
Senior Research Scientist, Knowledge Transformation & Integration Group
Pacific NW National Laboratory
PO Box 999
Richland, WA 99352
Voice: (509)-372-4946/Fax: (509) 375-2443
E-mail: scott.butner@pnl.gov

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