Saturday, August 20, 2011

Process Heat from Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors Changes Everything

With plentiful process heat provided at temperatures between 700 C and 950 C, a person could kill peak oil and have plenty of energy left to power industry and a broad spectrum of industrial processes.   Specifically, one could:
  1. Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in oil sands (PDF)
  2. Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in coal to liquids and gas to liquids (PDF)
  3. Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in shale oil kerogens 
  4. Provide abundant industrial process heat for production of fertilisers, refining fuels, making plastics, etc 
  5. Split CO2 into CO to use as a hydrogen carrier 
  6. Overturn conventional fears of EROEI and Peak Oil 
Those things, and many more, will be accomplished by next generation gas-cooled high temperature nuclear reactors. Helium gas coolant will run gas turbine generators at high temperatures, which provides electrical power at higher efficiencies than older steam cycle generation systems. And as mentioned above, the higher temperature process heat will find a wide range of practical uses in industrial processes and energy production.

Conventional fears about EROEI and peak oil will be overturned since the energy used to produce hydrocarbon fuels, fertilisers, plastics, and other products of industry and energy, will come from the high temperature heat effluent of nuclear reactions -- of which there is no conceivable near term shortage.

These promising prospects are all vulnerable to political misbehaviour, stupidity, and incompetence. The forces of faux environmentalist lefty-Luddism are strong in governments of the developed world. Energy starvation and carbon hysteria are powerful influences among governmental and inter-governmental policymakers. If industry and commerce are starved of energy -- whether by political design or by political incompetence -- continued economic decline is likely.

Choose wisely at the ballot box.

Adapted from an earlier article on Al Fin, The Next Level, and cross-posted to Al Fin

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