This guy scares me. He writes this long entitled, “A new dawn for nuclear power”.
In this article he states,
“To keep this process under control most reactors require a moderator – usually made of graphite or water because their light atoms are good at absorbing the kinetic energy of the neutrons.”
For those who are not familiar with the operation of a “thermal” nuclear reactor, that is to say a nuclear reactor in which the chain reaction is perpetuated by slow “thermal” neutrons, the function of a moderator is not to “keep the process under control”. The function of the moderator is to slow the neutrons down so that they can readily be absorbed by another U-235 atom and cause another fission. Faster neutrons are not as efficiently absorbed.
Control rods are used to keep the process under control by absorbing a portion of the neutrons above that which is required to achieve break-even (a sustained reaction rate in which each fissioning atom results in exactly one additional fission reaction on average).
So what is scary about this? People who don’t know what they’re talking about write articles all the time. Well here is what is scary.. In the about the author section it states that,
“Paul Norman runs the postgraduate MSc course in the physics and technology of nuclear reactors at the University of Birmingham, UK; Andrew Worrall and Kevin Hesketh are at Nexia Solutions in the UK”
This guy “runs” a post graduate course in the physics and technology of nuclear reactors… I guess this explains a lot about the industry.
I am actually in favor of increasing the use of nuclear fission to provide for our energy needs, provided that it is done right. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that in this country or the UK that has a prayer of happening. It doesn’t have a prayer of being done in this country because flawed economics dictate the direction of the nuclear industry as well as every other industry. The economics are flawed because they do not take into account external costs, such as the real cost of waste disposal or the cost of negative health effects.
The paranoid restrictions on scientific exchange have motivated many scientists to leave this country to pursue a career elsewhere where academic and other freedoms still exist. These restrictions are stupid; even the most primitive countries understand how to make a nuclear weapon.