Monday, January 26, 2009

Nuclear Power

I'm not sure that many people actually consider this, but ... nuclear power is going to be as finite as fossil fuels are. Current estimates peg nuclear power as being capable of powering the world at current rates for the next 200 years. Then, that's it folks.
According to the NEA, identified uranium resources total 5.5 million metric tons, and an additional 10.5 million metric tons remain undiscovered—a roughly 230-year supply at today's consumption rate in total.
There are a couple more options though ...
Two technologies could greatly extend the uranium supply itself. Neither is economical now, but both could be in the future if the price of uranium increases substantially. First, the extraction of uranium from seawater would make available 4.5 billion metric tons of uranium—a 60,000-year supply at present rates. Second, fuel-recycling fast-breeder reactors, which generate more fuel than they consume, would use less than 1 percent of the uranium needed for current LWRs. Breeder reactors could match today's nuclear output for 30,000 years using only the NEA-estimated supplies.
That's a bit more comforting. The question is ... would future developers actually develop these technologies sometime other than the 11th hour like we're currently experiencing with oil?

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