In a prior thread, it was proposed that nuclear fission can evolve into an acceptable solution to our future energy needs using LENR as the key advancement.

There is a compelling case for the proposition that a new and improved small-scale fission device - using mass-produced modules re-engineered as subcritical (using non-enriched fuel) can be as clean as say - wind energy at half the cost or less ... If... that is, the virtual neutron is real. Cheap neutrons permit breeding fissile fuel from natural U and burning waste at the same time . Experimental replication of the neutron experiment here:


http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0608229

The fission implementation is based on the same large dose of optimism as is LENR but there is a partially-proved hypothesis - that simple microwave techniques will produce virtual neutrons which are reactive with fissile isotopes. If you buy into that ... and the literature is impressive, then subcritical nuclear fission may be among the best ways to proceed, even better than Pd-D cold fusion itself. Fission is "almost renewable" (million year supply with ocean mining and breeding) and clean in the sense of burning its own waste, requiring little inventory at the start, with no toxic release during operation.

Wind energy is starting to make a useful contribution in the big picture, and that is a good thing, but make no mistake, wind is not entirely clean. The silly argument about bird-kill is specious, but the argument about hidden coal usage is serious. These facts are often glossed over by promoters but any fool can see the implication of an array of turbines mounted on heavy steel columns with deep concrete bases and thousands of towers required to produce GWhrs. In fact, Wind requires more steel by far (per unit of energy produced) than any other options.

The problem is unavoidable because making steel and concrete both require lots of coal, and typically that coal is in its dirtiest, cheapest form. Steel production represents hidden, up-front pollution in large quantities. Coal, gas or nuclear also use steel and concrete as structural materials, but a factor of 200 times less of it, when compared to actual electrical output. DoE has all the data confirming this.

On average, wind requires about 200 times as much steel and concrete structural material as a natural gas turbine plant of the same capacity. Factoid: a two-megawatt (faceplate) wind turbine weighs about 250 tons (or more), including the tower, nacelle, generator housing and blades, but it only works near full capacity about 40% of the time. It requires about half a ton of coal to make a ton of steel. Add another 25 tons of coal used in making the cement to secure the tower against strong gales - and in the end, you’re talking 150 tons of coal used per real MWhr of capacity for the structure. And the ash from the coal used to make the wind turbine is more radioactive than nuclear waste - see:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste/

This argument may be overblown for effect, but it makes the point that wind energy is not totally clean and other alternative could be acceptable due to lower cost. Nuclear fission (new and improved) has a chance to become the real clean-machine of future energy "if" LENR is incorporated as the source of cheap neutrons. With a modular fission design incorporating a natural U fuel target irradiated by virtual neutrons, direct conversion and a cycle where waste is burned in in situ, along with breeding - fission would definitely be a contender ... Fukushima notwithstanding.

Ironically, the big promoters of Wind energy these days are steel mills, concrete factories and the Sierra Club - strange bedfellows.

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