The power industry generally makes incremental improvements over time. This is becuase the machinery is large, complex and expensive. It is a matter of economics. Improving materials to be more effective and long lasting will wring improvements out of the plants thus improving effeciency, always the goal of the power industry.
Having this in Germany is interesting at this time as well. Germany has decided to shut down their nuclear plants, so they need to improve effeciency. They are also, of course, very advanced when it comes to metalurgy.
Thanks, naperlou, for weighing in on this subject. I would guess that the size of the machines and systems dictates a longer design and production cycle. The conference location plus the facts that Germany is looking for alternatives to nuclear power and is advanced in metallurgy are points well taken. Thanks for mentioning them.
I do not see how we will be able to move away from nuclear power. The amount of power our world requires is daunting. Nuclear power is the most promising kind of power. I can see fusion reactors becoming popular 100years from now with a considerably cleaner operation. Until then conventional fission reactors will be used. Any country that will move away from cheap energy will find it hard to keep the industry within their nation. There are several factors that cause mega corporations to bring production plants in your country. Here are some:
And while most people look at wage more than anything else. In some cases of heavy industry the two key factors are logistics (border control included if materials need to be shipped internationally) and cheap energy.
Everything has it's time. How would it be if we had rushed into nuclear as soon as we could with the old dangerous technology? No, we are still learning nuclear and if we can hold off long enough, we may not need it full scale. Something better, like as you said "fusion", supposedly safe nuclear, may be better.
I think rebuilding the old infrastructure is smart as long as we have fuel and can burn it clean.
While I'm at it - "Border Control": US and Mexico are already one country in so many ways, it is humanely irreversible. We are now accepting these facts and working on the details. I think we should send an "invitation of annexation" to the Mexican people to fuel their thoughts. (Opportunity is in US - might as well allow it to come home.)
I think the use of nuclear power after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster is, at best, not a wise move. It's going to take 40 years and $13 billion (that's only the current estimate) to clean up the mess. That's not counting the people who are radiation poisoned. All it takes for disaster isn't a tsunami, but a lack of electricity for a critical period of time. This risk/benefit tradeoff does not make sense to the Germans, or to many Japanese.
Burning it clean is a bad term to use. Nuclear there is nothing burning (oxidizing) there is nothing released to the atmosphere. The only difficulty is storage of the waste. There is a million ways to do this safely. Let's not forget that everything on earth us included are radioactive to some degree. So this is mostly cold war paranoia still in high gear. Fission and Fusion are both clean energy sources based on definition of a dirty power plant (releasing harmful materials to the environment). However fission requires a sure fund to maintain the storage after the fuel is used.
As energy efficiency becomes more and more a concern for makers of electronics devices, researchers are coming up with new ways to harvest energy from sound vibration, footsteps, and even electromagnetic fields in the air.
The government wants to study your brain, and DARPA wants to use similar information to give robots true autonomy beyond any artificial intelligence developed to date. Sound like science fiction? It's not.
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