Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Comparison between Coal and Nukes

I understand there are people defending coal on the grounds that nuclear waste (or maybe unclear waste) is so terrible. Let's run some numbers.

A typical coal reactor will use 53.8 Tons/hour for 100 MWe. That's 538 T/hr for 1000 MWe. Since there are 8760 hours/year, that's 4,712,880 T/yr.

Coal contains 1–4 ppm of uranium. At the low end, that means a 1000 MWe coal-burning power releases around 5 tons of nuclear waste per year.

On the other hand, the fission products are temporarily more radioactive than uranium. On the gripping hand, in the long run, they are less radioactive. A natural uranium or thorium atom will release 50 MeV of radiation by the time it decays. The fission products will release less than half of that.


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