One such ‘Big Difference’ person is Charles Barton who writes about nuclear energy at the Nuclear Green Blog.  By some wee bit of astonishment Mr. Barton has engaged Jesse Jenkins, the Director of Energy and Climate Policy of the The Breakthrough Institute, an active Energy/Environment Blogger, and an active participant on the Energy Collective, in a dialog.  Mr. Barton has graciously allowed us to follow his part in the dialog.  Over the course of some letters Charles hits some critical points that others and we should come to understand about nuclear power in the fission field.  I have linked them in order as I brief you on them below.  These are very well worth some time and coming to grasp with for knowledge’s sake to judge what will be happening particularly in the political arena over the coming years.

Passing by the earliest commentary in Barton’s first letter Mr. Jones has asked Mr. Barton “The trick will be providing on the order of 15-30 terawatts of carbon-free power by 2050 and 25-45 TW by 2100. Can nuclear scale to that magnitude?”  Mr. Barton comes right in with a solid assessment of why that question is too weak, the barriers of construction from the past and what could be a more realistic number; some added 100 terawatts of power in the U.S. alone.

Letter two addresses the idea that existing power generation facilities such as coal and natural gas can be reused with nuclear thermal sources for the steam generators.  Barton broadly covers the advantages, such as exiting grid connections, reusing equipment plus land and location advantages.  It’s an idea that saves too much money not to be out front and center.

At letter three Barton examines the current reactor builder thinking at least from the point of view of Babcock & Wilcox’s Chris Mowry.  Mowry lives in a real world, making payroll, sales and getting it done.  Barton’s observations about the choices that a B&W must make are illuminative.   The labor involved in construction and the amount of time is substantial, such that the newer designs are in need of serious promotion at the regulatory level.  Barton goes on to show the advantages of molten salt over light water for the heat transfer.  The technology presentation isn’t at all daunting, the writing is informative.

Letter four begins where I had almost chose to post about India’s commitment to Generation IV reactors with a ready date so soon as 2011, just two years out.  That leaves the U.S. and others far behind, embarrassingly way behind.  Barton then goes on to discuss how closing the gap could take place using examples of previous national accelerated research and development programs.  Looking at the numbers Barton has acquired about this type of research he makes eminently sensible reasons for the U.S. to jump in to both continued uranium fueled research, but to get underway with thorium research in the liquid fluoride thorium reactors. I dare say at this point Mr. Barton has crossed the metaphoric line of ‘political competency,’ without intense public pressure for thorium fuel, decades will pass and the opportunity, save a fusion breakthrough, will be lost for this century.

Letter five goes directly into thorium fueled reactors. Here, Barton makes another case for the thorium fueled reactor.  In the letter Barton uses the Ed Bettis’ work from the 1960s with graphics of an overhead and elevation view. The letter is as much a work of art as we’ve seen to support the most obvious way to electrify the U.S. cheaply and safely for centuries to come.

By the time this post goes up there could be more letters.  You’ll note that Jones side isn’t being revealed for whatever reason so one hopes Jones continues to inquire of Mr. Barton such that he can inform us more.  This is the link to Mr. Barton’s blog page where any additional letters will appear.

Letter 6, “General Conclusions, More Debate” is posted here.  Thanks Charles!

Another point is to check those comments.  Many quite sophisticated people are following Mr. Barton efforts and adding to the value of his posts.  The letters also are appearing at TheEnergyCollective.

Mr. Barton is doing everyone who uses electrical power a great service by getting what is extremely technical information into useable conversant terms all of can use to help others grasp what out policy could be for certain energy reliance and self sufficiency.  With some storage solutions for electrons coming the power generation field is going to get front and center of the economy much sooner that many expect.


7 Comments so far

  1. Charles Barton on October 24, 2009 12:31 AM

    Letter 6, “General Conclusions, More Debate” is posted here.

    Unfortunately Jesse Jenkins’ only response to my letters was a few short lines, which. of course, I responded too. Thus there was no real dialogue. Nor did the numerous green oriented Energy Collective writers offer any response. The lack of response was of course disappointing, but it is consistent with my impression of Greens generally.

  2. Rod Adams on October 24, 2009 12:56 AM

    Minor correction – Robert Bryce is a journalist and editor in chief of the Energy Tribune, not an employee of B&W.

    He interviewed Chris Mowry, president and CEO of Babcock & Wilcox Modular Nuclear Energy, LLC., for the story that Charles mentions in letter 3.

  3. Brian Westenhaus on October 24, 2009 7:14 AM

    Thanks guys, both matters fixed. BW

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