Tag Archives: nuclear

LHC ready for trial collisions

Let’s smash some atoms!

The Large Hadron Collider is back on track for trial collisions this week, after a glitch with the cooling system, Times Online reports. Once the two beams had been inserted into the LHC ring last Wednesday, the next task was to “capture” them so that protons could be fired in neat pulses or “bunches”.

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Do you want President Palin? Censorship of books? 4000 year old Dinosaurs? Matt Damon makes his comments known…

Like a really bad Disney Movie. “I think there is a really good chance that Sarah Palin could be president. And I think that’s a really scary…” By the way, does anyone think Disney will sue for a copyright infringement?

Nuclear Power versus what options in Ontario?

I am no lover of Nuclear power and its by-product. Nuclear waste! Taking close to 10,000 years to simply become safe for handling or disposal, seems to be an extreme and dare I say “insane” option. However, no energy source is perfect, right? Some have tried to claim that nuclear energy comes close to perfection. In my mind they are misguided or smoking something. The use of nuclear energy is cheap and environmentally safe, ONLY if the waste is contained. Unfortunately the people of Chernobyl may disagree.  Nuclear energy produces radioactive waste that can destroy the environment. In addition, cancer causing radiation must be closely monitored and managed in order to produce the power we need in Ontario. There are three major questions to be answered. (1) The health of the environment, (2) The question of safety and (3) The alternative options available to us in Ontario.  May I remind Ontarians that we do need stable and consistent power? Coal is bad for the environment, however, since rising CO2 emissions will destroy planet at a faster rate, we have decided to choose the “lesser of the two evils”. So again, what are the options? Wind power? Geo-thermal? Hydro-electric? Solar? Others? These are all questions to be asked? However, while are Governments studies these options we continue to increase our need for power in Ontario. What legacy are we leaving for our children? We are hoping that they will be able to find solutions to the removal of nuclear waste. Maybe they will? But what happens if they do not? It’s something to think about. Again, I am not lover of Nuclear power, but what are the options and where is the innovation? Where is the investment? And where are the thinkers?

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario

Hydrogen`s role in a nuclear renaissance

Nuclear energy is key to establishing a hydrogen-powered rail corridor in Toronto, says Greg Naterer, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).

A big issue with hydrogen, he says, is that 96 per cent of what’s produced in the world comes from fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, through a process called steam reforming. This results in greenhouse gases and other emissions.

The rest largely comes from a more expensive process called electrolysis, which is the use of electricity to separate water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen.

Electrolysis has the potential to produce emission-free hydrogen, but only if the source electricity is itself emission-free – that is, it must come from wind, solar or hydroelectric generation. Nuclear power, if you ignore the radioactive waste, also fits the bill, and this has turned the nuclear industry into a big hydrogen-economy supporter as a way of boosting its own self-proclaimed renaissance.

“A hydrogen economy doesn’t make sense if we’re using fossil fuels to generate the hydrogen, so we need a method that doesn’t use fossil fuels,” says Naterer. “And right now hydrogen from electrolysis is too costly because it has to compete against other fuels.”

As research chair in advanced energy systems at UOIT, Naterer is leading a 24-member team that’s exploring a method of producing lower-cost hydrogen from the waste heat of nuclear plants. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago and universities across Ontario are also participating in the research effort.

Some have argued that surplus electricity from the overnight operation of nuclear reactors could be used to produce hydrogen, but UOIT and its research partners have their eye on a more economical approach. Instead of using nuclear power directly for electrolysis, they plan to use the waste heat from a nearby nuclear plant to extract hydrogen from steam.

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Gas-fuelled power plant on agenda for Toronto and Mississauga

Buried in the release of Ontario Power Generation’s 2006 financial results last Friday was an intriguing paragraph: “OPG is exploring the potential development of a gas-fuelled electricity generation station at its Lakeview site and is continuing with the decommissioning and demolition of the Lakeview coal-fired generating station.”

There is, as you might expect, a story behind this story and it sheds some light on how dysfunctional our electricity system has become over the past few years.

First, some background:

Ontario Power Generation, or OPG, is one of the successor companies that emerged when Ontario Hydro was broken into pieces in 1997. Still government owned, it runs all the old Ontario Hydro power plants, including the coal-fired facilities, which contribute to our air pollution and global warming and which the governing Liberals have promised to close.

In 2005, OPG’s Lakeview site, along Mississauga’s waterfront, became the first of the coal-fired plants to be closed.

But the Ontario Power Authority – an agency set up by the Liberals to plan for future electricity needs – says a replacement power source will be needed in the Mississauga area by the year 2011.

Hence, OPG’s interest in building a gas-fired plant on the old Lakeview site.

OPG has lined up a partner for the project – Enersource, the local electricity distributor, which is 90 per cent owned by the City of Mississauga and 10 per cent by Borealis, the infrastructure investment arm of OMERS (the municipal employees pension fund).

Also reportedly backing the project is Hazel McCallion, Mississauga’s formidable mayor (although, uncharacteristically, she did not respond to requests for an interview for this column).

With such an array of backers and a province thirsty for more power, the Lakeview project would seem to be a sure thing.

But not so fast. The power authority wants a competitive process before making a decision on a new plant. In this respect, the authority insists it is just following government policy, although insiders suggest the authority harbours a bias against OPG and in favour of private-sector suppliers.

As it happens, there is at least one private-sector firm interested in building a new gas-fired power plant in south Mississauga – Sithe Global, which already has regulatory approval for a site called Southdown (on the east side of Winston Churchill Blvd., between Royal Windsor Dr. and Lakeshore Rd.)

And more private-sector suppliers might come forward if they were allowed to make bids based on the OPG-owned Lakeview site, as the power authority has apparently suggested – to vociferous objections from OPG.

In any event, the power authority says the competitive process won’t begin until next year. That will create a tight timetable, however, as the electricity is said to be needed by 2011, and it takes three years to build a new gas-fired facility.

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The Nuclear Power that Binds Us in Ontario

In an effort to become a green city, little thought is given to the two major nuclear plants, just outside of the Toronto area. I think we like to imagine that they are not there. Do the benefits really outweigh the cost? In regards to the greening of the planet proponents like to say that nuclear power is green energy. However I beg to differ. Nuclear power is not “clean and green,” as the industry claims, because large amounts of fossil fuels are required to mine and refine the uranium for nuclear power reactors. In addition, much thought is not given to the concrete reactor buildings, along with the need to transport and store the radioactive waste. Nuclear power reminds me of the common “deal with the devil” syndrome. We will get quick and immediate satisfaction, however in the long term we are actually killing and destroying our planet. As with always, little is shown to the common Ontarian about the facts of nuclear waste. If people knew how toxic and how long it takes to even safely get rid of it, maybe we all would think a little different about the legacy we are leaving future generations. Although we talk about the need to become more environmentally friendly, we are moving away from this goal at an ever increasing pace. As Toronto expands and grows, attracting more and more people we will require more and more power. Although we want to be “green”, let’s face the fact. Unless we may major changes and investments in renewable resources, along with offering green choices for consumers, we are essentially going to see more nuclear reactors. We are attached to nuclear power, not out of wanting, but necessity.

By: Andy MJ
a.k.a “The GTA Patriot”
Toronto, Ontario