A Department of Energy-sponsored report estimated in 2014 that the US nuclear industry would produce 94 percent less fuel waste if big, old reactors were replaced with new smaller ones.
For example, they can add up how much gasoline is being burned and how many fossil fuel power plants are running at a given time, to calculate how much carbon is being exhaled into the atmosphere.
Do this again and again in a series of centrifuges known as a cascade, siphoning off the U-235 each time, and pretty soon you’ll have low-enriched uranium, fuel for a traditional nuclear reactor.
But a hidden crisis is unfolding too: The carbon emitted by war machines is helping warm the planet at a critical moment in human history, when every day not spent decarbonizing adds to the compounding misery of climate change.
Last fall, researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability predicted that retrofitting traditional diesel locomotives with battery power could save railroads $94 billion in fuel costs over 20 years, after buying the batteries, and would keep tons of pollutants out of the air.
But hydrogen technology and infrastructure is more expensive, says Collins, while the skill sets in the industry for using electric buses are also likely higher than for hydrogen.
That’s because airplane engines are designed to operate in the air, says Hamsa Balakrishnan, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT who studies airport operations.As a result, “there’s a lot of inefficiency that gets built in,” says Balakrishnan, the MIT professor.
I made a list of all the interesting climate startups, around 2,000 of them, and turned it into an ebook so I could read it on my phone at night.
A wildfire that would once chew through a few dozen acres of underbrush, making way for new plant growth, now burns with extreme ferocity, producing so much heat and smoke that it can generate its own thunderclouds , which light more fires.
The researchers demonstrated that with the right catalysts, both of these reactions work extremely well and produce a mix of hydrocarbons with properties similar to that of jet fuel.
“If people see that their mail delivery people are driving electric vehicles, they’ll get the confidence they’ll need,” says Doug Kettles, director of the Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition, a Department of Energy-supported group that promotes advanced vehicle technologies.
But before putting any taxpayer money on this train, consider some inconvenient truths: First, the carbon farming practices being promoted as something new have all been in use for decades, and all were originally adopted for reasons unrelated to climate change.
By adding heat (350 degrees Celsius, which is 662 degrees Fahrenheit) to citric acid, hydrogen, and a catalyst made of iron, manganese, and potassium to the carbon dioxide, the team was able to produce liquid fuel that would work in a jet engine.
When powered up, brine flowed through the device, splitting into pure oxygen gas captured on the anode side and pure hydrogen gas on the cathode side.DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2008613117 (About DOIs).This story originally appeared on Ars Technica.📩 Want the latest on tech, science, and more?
“The magic of cellular automata is that by aggregating very simple rules in a space, it actually is able to capture what is called an ‘emergent behavior,’ which is a behavior that is extremely complex,” says Imperial College London engineer Guillermo Rein, coauthor of a new paper describing the work in the journal Proceedings of the Combustion Institute.
For years, the Vehicle Technology Office has been focused on swapping out conventional gasoline with more environmentally friendly biofuels .“An internal combustion engine can utilize a wide range of fuels, and some of those can be partially renewable,” says Howell.
In a conventional nuclear reactor, the main line of defense against a meltdown is the fuel control rod, which power plant operators use to control the fission rate in the core.
When a company buys carbon offsets , it funds projects elsewhere to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as planting trees in Indonesia or installing giant machines inside California dairies that suck up the methane produced by burping and farting cows and turn it into a usable biofuel.
The latest shipment of fuel arrived at the plant well before the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a standstill, says Greg Cameron, the nuclear communications director at Palo Verde.
In the case of, say, a gasoline-powered car, the fuel is mixed with air, crammed into a piston chamber, and set alight, causing it to jump more than 1,000 degrees in temperature.
The grazers might also prefer grasses to shrubs, which changes the vertical structure of the vegetation, further increasing the fire risk.So while the grazers are doing a helpful job of eating up some potential tinder, they’re leaving behind vegetation that is extra-flammable—which is a mixed bag, in terms of wildfire prevention.
For the past year, scientists at INL have started recycling spent uranium to meet the fuel needs of a new generation of small commercial reactors.