Nuclear drive trains for long haul transport

Nuclear drive trains for long haul transport

Despite the obvious fact that CO2 has no discernible influence on climate nor weather.

Despite the fact higher CO2 in the atmosphere leads to a literally greener planet.

Doom sayers profess any CO2 content in the atmosphere higher than 350 ppm will be our downfall. Regardless that farmers using enclosed growing facilities upping the CO2 to 1000 ppm to get the best crop results without killing the workers by some incomprehensible mechanism part of humanity is convinced that more CO2 in the atmosphere is the cause of global warming, global cooling and changes in weather patterns.


Assuming that what are the alternatives? Wind and solar are too independent on natures whims and the day/night cycle to be a reliable source of sustainable energy as United Kingdom/Germany/Australia and many other nations have empirically proven.

So what is a real alternative? Only one. Direct matter->energy conversion. At this point in time the most efficient one, nuclear fusion, is unfortunately not yet within our level of technical prowess.

So the next best thing, Nuclear Fission, is our only realistic alternative to wind/solar. It delivers reliable energy with the least accidents per capita per kw/h per person.

How does this tie in with transport? Well since space-stations need a safe, reliable powerplants the development of those come to being.

Examples which could be adapted to transport are:

The SAFE-400 space fission reactor (Safe Affordable Fission Engine) is a 400 kWt HPS of 100 kWe to power a space vehicle using two Brayton power systems – gas turbines driven directly by the hot gas from the reactor. Heat exchanger outlet temperature is 880°C. The reactor has 127 identical heatpipe modules made of molybdenum, or niobium with 1% zirconium. Each has three fuel pins 1 cm diameter, nesting together into a compact hexagonal core 25 cm across. The fuel pins are 70 cm long (fuelled length 56 cm), the total heatpipe length is 145 cm, extending 75 cm above the core, where they are coupled with the heat exchangers. The core with reflector has a 51 cm diameter. The mass of the core is about 512 kg and each heat exchanger is 72 kg. SAFE has also been tested with an electric ion drive.

A smaller version of this kind of reactor is the HOMER-15 – the Heatpipe-Operated Mars Exploration Reactor. It is a15 kW thermal unit similar to the larger SAFE model, and stands 2.4 metres tall including its heat exchanger and 3 kWe Stirling engine (see above). It operates at only 600°C and is therefore able to use stainless steel for fuel pins and heatpipes, which are 1.6 cm diameter. It has 19 sodium heatpipe modules with 102 fuel pins bonded to them, 4 or 6 per pipe, and holding a total of 72 kg of fuel. The heatpipes are 106 cm long and fuel height 36 cm. The core is hexagonal (18 cm across) with six BeO pins in the corners. The total mass of reactor system is 214 kg, and diameter is 41 cm.


With minimal investment/longevity/efficiency as compared to EV Long Haul vehicles those vehicles equipped with such an derived reactor could not only drive around for 10 years on a single refuel, they could also be powered to haul long haul truck trains as currently being used in Australia.

Even better, when not being used as transport vehicle the onboard reactor could be fitted with a generator and supply electricity to the local grid.

All it needs is an open mind and a reasonable amount of engineering capability

France’s electricity to remain cheap

There are artificial self-imposed targets, plans and even laws – and then there’s reality, if ‘keeping the lights on’ is a priority. Scrapping nuclear capacity implies either having something convincing to replace it with, or risking the wrath of the voters if/when things start to go wrong. The French environment minister Nicolas Hulot says the […]

via France delays reduction of nuclear power — Tallbloke’s Talkshop

A Nuclear Paradigm Shift?

A Nuclear Paradigm Shift?

U.S. regulators may radically revise safety assumptions about atomic radiation.


Wade Allison, emeritus professor of physics at Oxford, has a more realistic idea for fighting global warming than any being promoted at this week’s climate summit in Paris: Increase by 1,000-fold the allowable limits for radiation exposure to the public and workers from nuclear power plants.

Sweden a few years ago finally acknowledged nearly a year’s supply of reindeer meat was needlessly destroyed after Chernobyl. A Japanese survey in 2013 found 1,600 premature deaths from “evacuation stress” (including suicides and loss of access to critical health care) among those forcibly protected from Fukushima exposures that posed little or no threat and were less than residents of, say, Finland experience on a normal basis.

In 2001, America’s then-chief nuclear regulator cautiously admitted that “excess cases of leukemia that can be attributed to Chernobyl have not been detected.”

In the 1980s, 1,700 apartments in Taiwan were built from recycled steel contaminated with radioactive cobalt. In a 2006 study that found residents suffered unusually low cancer rates, the authors suggested that, by correcting our risk estimates, “many billions of dollars in nuclear reactor operation could be saved and expansion of nuclear electricity generation could be facilitated.”

They were right: Exaggerated radiation fears have been crucial in driving up the safety, waste storage and licensing costs of nuclear power. But change may finally be coming—a paradigm shift in how we think about nuclear risk.

By now hundreds of papers have added evidence against LNT. A study last year from Munich’s Institute of Radiation Biology showed a specific mechanism by which low levels of radiation induce a nonlinear response in certain cell protection mechanisms.

The consequences have been incalculable. Not from any intrinsic cost, safety or efficiency advantage coal became the world’s go-to electricity source in the early 21st century. China and India today would not be opting for coal. They would be choosing among an array of off-the-shelf, affordable, safe and clean nuclear reactors developed in the advanced industrial countries.

How foolish have we been? In a month, coal mining kills more people than all nuclear power industry accidents since the beginning of time. Though it opens a can of worms, by the standards of LNT, coal is also more dangerous than nuclear. The particulates, heavy metals and radioactive elements coal plants emit are estimated to cause 13,200 deaths a year, according to the American Lung Association.

Wall Street Journal