Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

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DurangoKid
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Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

I'm sure most of us have seen M. King Hubbert's famous plot of the consumption of oil versus the previous and next 5,000 years.  The plot looks like a lone asparagus stalk on a flat plane.  Over the next five millennia the energy source that made all of "this" possible will be mostly a distant memory.  But, wait.  Aren't we making a commitment to the nuclear fuel cycle that will last for twenty-five millennia?  What happens if 1,000 years hence our descendants discover a flaw in the design?  What will be their response?  How will they cope with thousands of tons of radioactive waste without the hydrocarbon infrastructure?  Will they even understand the problem let along have the technical capabilities of solving it?  Remember that the quality and quantity of their materials will directly related to the quantity and quality of energy at their disposal.  We must also be mindful of the stock of metal we can expect several millennia from now.  Much of the iron, copper, aluminum, lead, zinc, tin, and their related alloys will exist as small, corroded remnants.  There will likely be no practical way to rebuild but a tiny fraction of our current infrastructure at any cost either in human labor or fuel fed useful work.  The assumption in the nuclear fuel as answer to climate change and oil depletion camp tacitly assumes that it will be business as usual forever.  I don't see a lot of evidence to support that position.  Nuclear energy could very well be a curse on future generations that currently few us can imagine.

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Re: Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

I have good reason to believe that the peak oil is not true. Or not as drastic as it is made out

Here's  couple of snapshots:

1/ Norway's Statoil is currently building a 1.3 GW power plant with the objective of producing CO2. Yes you heard me right. The electricity generated is a by-product.

They plan to compress the gas and pump it under the north sea into oil reserves to  force out more oil. They estimate that the oil taken from the north sea so far equals 8% of the total of what could be taken out if it was forced out by pumping CO2 in. Notice also that in some circumstances pumping in the CO2 would also count as carbon sequestration. This project is not a pipe dream: They are building foundations now. Once proven it will change the landscape completely.

2/ SASOL is busy licencing its synfuel technology to several parties. This well proven technology undermines the arguments of oil geologists that we're running out of oil. Because Coal=Oil. They need to take their blinkers off. For example New Zealand has massive lignite desosits in the  south island. Any one of which could provide enough fuel for that country's transport needs for a 100 years. An old friend at SASOL told me two years ago that their breakeven for the process was $25/barrel.

So don't hold your breath - there's oil all over the place. The problem with oil at the moment is that the USA sat on its hands for 25 years and through lack of an energy strategy, allowed itself to become beholden to middle eastern tyrants. (Who now fund wars against it). But the market is responding with mega projects to increase oil production, reduce oil dependence and improve efficiencies.

Watch for an oil glut in five years.

 

 

 

 

 

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Re: Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Converting lignite to liquid hydrocarbons?  Fischer-Tropsch again.  Not good on the net energy front.  For starters, you have the low-grade carbon as the fuel sorce.  Lignite is the lowest form of coal.  Highest ash, highest water, lowest BTU's per ton.  Next, use that as the fuel to separate hydrogen from water using steam and a catalyst.  Then refine the lignite, which has been presumably coked by some process into a purer form of carbon using lignite as the fuel.  Next put the hydrogen and coke into a reaction vessel and heat and pressurize it, again with lignite as the fuel.  At every stage it gives off carbon dioxide as a waste product.  Then there's the question of what to do with the toxic ash.  Then there's the overall energy in versus energy out calculation.  Using lignite to manufacture liquid hydrocarbons will be enormously inefficient and poluting.  The rates of production will be a trickle compared to demand.  Fischer-Tropsch was an act of desperation by the Third Reich.  So now we're in the same boat?

Carbon dioxide injection misses the point.  It's production RATES that matter.  That oil is years from coming on line.  Not every field can use that technology to get the remaining oil out of the  ground.  As far as carbon sequestration goes, no such technology has been proven.  You can also bet that a lot of the carbon dioxide will follow the oil back out of the well, just as sea water follows the oil in Ghawar.  So, as the rest of the world continues to sink into decline, the Norwegians are tinkering with a new way to squeeze a lemon. 

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Re: Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

The US and Canada are sitting on huge untapped reserves.  As production decreases in the mideast, those reserves will come online, because the PTB will make it so.  They'll even promote it as 'environmentally friendly' to the elementary kids and the boob tube sheeple.

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Re: Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

1/ Norway's Statoil is currently building a 1.3 GW power plant with the objective of producing CO2. Yes you heard me right. The electricity generated is a by-product.

This is a sign of desperation on Statoil's part. Do you think that if there were easier plays in that province they would be resorting to spending an enormous amount of energy and money to squeeze out at few more barrels from the fast declining North Sea?

2/ SASOL is busy licencing its synfuel technology to several parties. This well proven technology undermines the arguments of oil geologists that we're running out of oil. Because Coal=Oil. They need to take their blinkers off. For example New Zealand has massive lignite desosits in the south island. Any one of which could provide enough fuel for that country's transport needs for a 100 years. An old friend at SASOL told me two years ago that their breakeven for the process was $25/barrel.

Firstly, this is another sign that we are or near the peak of world oil production. Why would anyone resort to such ruinously energy intensive ways of, again, squeezing oil from stone. Secondly you seem to have conveniently overlooked the small matter of global warming as coal is the most polluting fossil fuel. Thirdly I do not believe, from the evidence available, that anyone can get that much oil using Fischer-Tropsch. I believe the best return is 3 barrels of oil for every 1 of oil equvalent. Hardly sparkling figures when even poor old mainland USA can still get 8 to 10 barrels of oil for every 1 used to produce it. Not without using some extremely creative accounting, but hey, the world is full of rubbery numbers these days. We only have to look at the phoney baloney taking place on Wall St to understand this is so.

So don't hold your breath - there's oil all over the place. The problem with oil at the moment is that the USA sat on its hands for 25 years and through lack of an energy strategy, allowed itself to become beholden to middle eastern tyrants. (Who now fund wars against it). But the market is responding with mega projects to increase oil production, reduce oil dependence and improve efficiencies.

These are very sweeping claims, and yet you offer no proof whatsoever for their validity. Nor can you ever produce it.

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Re: Peak Oil Meets --- the military

I'll start to worry about peak oil, only when the military starts to horde oil.

Nothing will ever trump the military ability to horde resources -- all under the banner of national security. If the US military thought for one second that in 25 years their equipment would not have fuel, instantly we would find that the entire oil industry would be militarized.

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Re: Peak Oil Meets --- the military

"If the US military thought for one second that in 25 years their equipment would not have fuel, instantly we would find that the entire oil industry would be militarized."

And you don't think it already is...??

All Economic Costs: $480 a Barrel

Milton Copulus, the head of the National Defense Council Foundation, has a different view. And as the former principal energy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, a 12-year member of the National Petroleum Council, a Reagan White House alum, and an advisor to half a dozen U.S. Energy Secretaries, various Secretaries of Defense, and two directors of the CIA, he knows his stuff.

After taking into account the direct and indirect costs of oil, the economic costs of oil supply disruption, and military expenditures, he estimates the true cost of oil at a stunning $480 a barrel.

That would make the "real" cost of filling up a family sedan about $220, and filling up a large SUV about $325 (when oil was $10 a barrel cheaper than it is now!).

Due to the enormous military cost of protecting Persian Gulf imports, the hidden cost of oil from that region amounts to $7.41 per gallon of gasoline. The cheapest gas out in my part of the Bay Area is $3.11 a gallon for regular. Add them together, and the true cost of my gas is probably around $10.52 a gallon.

We use 21 million barrels a day of oil. At $480 a barrel, that's $10 trillion a year draining from the national coffers.

And we haven't even tried to count the blood.

But we're not done yet.

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Re: Peak Oil Meets --- the military

MILITARY PREPARES FOR PEAK OIL

Acknowledges Global Peak Oil Likely Happened in 2005
Surrounding Military Installations With Renewables
Preparing For Frequent Blackouts

by
Michael Kane
Staff Writer

© Copyright 2006, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All Rights Reserved. This story may NOT be posted on any Internet web site without express written permission. Contact [email protected]. May be circulated, distributed or transmitted for non-profit purposes only.

March 30, 2006 1700 PST (FTW) - The Army has officially acknowledged Global Peak Oil likely occurred in 2005.

The Army Corp. of Engineers completed a report in September of 2005 titled Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations. Though completed six months ago, it was not publicly available until recently. The report focuses entirely on Peak Oil, and lists the date for Global Peak Oil as falling somewhere between 2005 and 2020.1 But, further in the report, 2005 is explicitly stated as being the year that global oil production likely peaked <MORE>

Personally, I'd take Peak Oil seriously when the military does.

Mike

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Re: Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

What ho?  I didn't mean for this thread to become a discussion on the merits of Peak Oil.  For the purposes of this discussion, it's a given.  My concern is that when the hydrocarbon economy sputters to a halt, how will the remains of the nuclear fuel cycle be delt with?  We currenly have the means to move earth, smelt metals, produce concrete, marshal labor, transport commodities, etc., on an industrial scale.  How does one stand watch for 25,000 years on a problem that if it goes worst case, would demand an answer that we currenly may not be able to supply?  Remember the other half of M. King Hubbert's warning.  In the not too distant future all the metal we enjoy and take for granted will be scattered and corroded into oblivion.  The working of metal is a key component in industrial culture.  Take it away and what are you left with?

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Re: Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

The worst aspect of nuclear is that the energy required to decommission the site at the end of its useful life will be forgotten about until it is due, and by then (say 2050) energy will be so expensive and unavailable that we will not be in a position to decommission at all -

"Do you want to decommission that old nuclear plant, or do you want to keep the lights on ?"
 

http://www.stormsmith.nl/report20071013/partA.pdf   "Nuclear Power: the energy balance" contains this diagram showing the energy in and out over time, which I have put at www.peakoil.org.au/Storm.Smith.energy.budget.gif

Storm and Smith's nuclear energy budget

 

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Re: Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle
DurangoKid wrote:

The assumption in the nuclear fuel as answer to climate change and oil depletion camp tacitly assumes that it will be business as usual forever.  I don't see a lot of evidence to support that position.  Nuclear energy could very well be a curse on future generations that currently few us can imagine.

Business as usual is pretty much what an expanded use of nuclear will amount to.  There are ~130 nuclear facilities in the US.  While we have some evidence of decomissioning costs, for the most part, repair and reliscensing is what will happen to most.  The graph showing a 25-30 year cycle before any "curse" kicks in needs to revisit the actual costs incurred from our infrastructure that has already reached this age.  I frankly don't have much data on decomissioning costs, but its more of a political/regulatory risk than an economic reality with respect to the remaining usefullness of the plant.  I think the discussion of both peak oil and climate change are heavily clouded by both businesses and politics.  Its not to say there's lots to respect within the science of the next 100 years, but the shortcomings of energy policy (which is what the climate bill will become) are what is impacting us most today. 

 

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Damnthematrix
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cost of decomissioning nukes

I once saw an article in New Scientist which said, if my memory serves me right, that the decomissioning of the Sellafield facility would cost seventy billion pounds (ie ~$150B) and take 100 years.....

Maybe some of the UK lurkers on this site could throw some more light on this one...?

Mike

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Re: Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Like it or not Coal to Oil conversion works.

The breakeven for the process is as stated. More and more countries are doing it. South Africa has been doing it for over about 30 years.

The energy conversion ratio is not that relevant if the supply stock is cheap

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Re: Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Cost of decommissioning sellafield:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4859980.stm

As someone posted above - it would be interesting to see what the real cost of the project is - when all the nonsense is stripped away.

Because of politics (driven by the technical ignorance of  voters) the nuclear industry is held to a vastly higher standard than any of its competitors.

 

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Re: Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle
"Like it or not Coal to Oil conversion works."
OF COURSE it works........  who said it doesn't? Hitler waged war, bombed the crap out of London, sank numerous ships in the Atlantic, even invaded Russia with fuel made from coal.......  But he LOST!  And the reason he lost is because the ERoEI of HIS fuel versus OUR fuel was really bad.  Like I said in an earlier post, OIL won the war.  In fact, AMERICAN OIL won the war.....
All coal liquefaction proves to me, is that with fossil fuels you can do ANYTHING.....   now watch it all run out.
Mike
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Re: Peak Oil Meets the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

South Africa has only small deposits of oil and natural gas and relies on coal production for most of its energy needs. The country has a highly developed synthetic fuels industry, mainly derived from coal. South Africa's economy is structured around large-scale, energy-intensive mining and primary minerals industries, pushing its energy intensity to above average levels, with only 10 other countries having higher commercial primary energy intensities. South Africa's energy sector is critical to the economy, contributing about 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). Due to its large coal deposits, South Africa is one of the cheapest electricity suppliers in the world. Although the cost of electricity in South Africa is among the worlds lowest, strong economic growth, rapid industrialization and a mass electrification program led to demand for power outstripping supply in early 2008. The recent power supply crisis has accelerated recognition of the need to diversify the energy mix, such as nuclear power and natural gas, as well as various forms of renewable energy.  http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/South_Africa/Background.html

Sounds like a real powerhouse to me......!

Mike

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