ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on May 10th, 2012 at 3:49 am

Will Japan Ever Restart Their Nuclear Power Plants?

On Saturday Japan will have closed all 50 of their operational nuclear reactors:

The Fukushima crisis is eroding years of Japanese efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, as power plants running on oil and natural gas fill the electricity gap left by now-shuttered nuclear reactors.

Before last year’s devastating tsunami triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, Japan had planned to meet its carbon emissions reduction targets on the assumption that it would rely onnuclear power, long considered a steady, low-emissions source of energy.

But now it’s unclear to what extent nuclear energy will even be part of the electricity mix.

Japan will be free of atomic power for the first time since 1966 on Saturday, when the last of its 50 usable reactors is switched off for regular inspections. The central government would like to restart them at some point, but it is running into strong opposition from local citizens and governments.

With the loss of nuclear energy, the Ministry of Environment projects that Japan will produce about 15 percent more greenhouse gas emissions this fiscal year than it did in 1990, the baseline year for measuring progress in reducing emissions. In fiscal 2010, Japan’s actual emissions were close to 1990 levels. It also raises doubts about whether it will be able to meet a pledge made in Copenhagen in 2009 to slash emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.  [AP]

You can read the rest at the link but the Japanese have decided to expand the use of fossil fuels to meet baseline demand because unlike Germany which has also ended nuclear power, they don’t have the advantage of being able to buy energy from a neighboring country like the Germans do with France.

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  • kushibo
    3:04 am on May 10th, 2012 1

    I’ve talked about this with some of my Japanese friends here in Hawaii, and the disdain they now have for nuclear power is palpable.

    This was their Three Mile Island to the power of ten. Just like it has taken nearly three decades for the US to finally approve another nuclear plant, the Japanese might go a whole generation before they’ll consider nuclear power again.

    That, unfortunately, may mean they’ve learned the wrong lessons.

  • Dr.Yu
    7:56 am on May 10th, 2012 2

    This is a tragedy for Japanese manga and anime industry. With no more radiation in Japan say goodbye to monsters like godzilla and other mutant monsters to destroy Tokyo …. Power rangers now will fight Muslim terrorist and drug dealers like Hollywood heroes (competition at sight…) and American entertainment industry will pay the bill for this Japanese unilateral decision … I’m sure Hollywood will pressure Clinton to force Japan to stop with this unfair commercial practice ….. Damn Japanese …. :lol:

  • Fuddpucker
    9:17 am on May 10th, 2012 3

    But, but, won’t the fossil fuel plants kill more people than the Fukushima(2 people)nuclear plant disaster?

  • Glans
    4:40 pm on May 10th, 2012 4

    Nuclear fission releases a tiny part of the energy from a supernova.

  • Hamilton
    4:58 pm on May 10th, 2012 5

    #3 This is where the greenies need to get their act together but they won’t they want you to live in a mud hut.

    A properly set up, managed and run nuclear plant provides the cheapest form of energy on the plant and does so with zero carbon emmisions.

    The waste product is highly toxic and also highly manageable with proper storage procedures and highly efficient recylcing technology that has come on line in the past 20 years.

    People who fear radiation don’t understand it at all. We are swimming in it. What you don’t want is leakage and that is managable. Will even a modern reactor survive a meteor strike? No, but they can be designed to withstand to a level where the least of your worries is the reactor.

  • Glans
    5:53 pm on May 10th, 2012 6

    Hamilton 5, I think you mean “planet” and “meteorite”, not “plant” and “meteor”. Right? Also, “disposal”, not “recylcing”. Unless you really meant “recycling”, but then you’d need to explain how recycling reactor waste makes it less hazardous.

  • MTB Rider
    6:13 pm on May 10th, 2012 7

    Three Mile Island killed 0 people. The amount of radiation released was 1/6th of a chest x-ray. The radiation for a coal tailings pile is much, MUCH higher. Then there is the black lung and other assorted deaths involved in coal mining.

    Pebblebed reactors are safe and simple. Radioactive isotopes are impregnated into ceramic spheres capable of withstanding 3300deg f, but the heat generated is only 3000deg. Molten Salt reactors are Gen 4 reactors, and are also inherently much safer than the Gen 1 and Gen 2 reactors currently in use.

    Gen 3 and Gen 4 reactors are by design even safer, but the media whips up the fear factor as high as possible.

  • Hamilton
    6:36 pm on May 10th, 2012 8


    Meteorite is correct since Meteors burn up but Nuclear Plant is fine. Nuclear power plant would be even better.

    The French have made great strides in recycling spent material from nuclear reactors. What was waste and filled dozens of drums years ago now is a small fraction of what it used to be. All of the material is hazardous but only a small fraction is not re-usable and that is the material that requires long term storage in a facility like ours at Yuma.

    As MTB Rider mentioned in #7 the fear people have over radiation is foolish compared to the benefits. Bananas, fertilizer and people all emit radiation. Fire will burn you and is quite hazardous left unmanaged. However as a tool it is indespensible so is nuclear power.

  • Glans
    6:59 pm on May 10th, 2012 9

    Hamilton, you’re seriously saying that nuclear energy is the cheapest energy on the plant? Whatever, dude.

    Recycling waste takes out the good stuff, which is mildly radioactive, and concentrates the bad stuff, which is highly radioactive. It doesn’t decrease the amount of radioactive stuff.

    How dangerous is fire? Among other things, that depends on the fuel. It might put mercury in air and water. It might put sulfur dioxide in the air, causing acid rain. It might take carbon from deep underground, where it’s not bothering anybody, and put it in the air as carbon dioxide, which absorbs infrared radiation.

  • JoeC
    7:10 pm on May 10th, 2012 10


    “People who fear radiation don’t understand it at all.”

    I think, of all the people on earth, the Japanese have legitimate reasons to fear nuclear energy. No one else has experienced the consequences of it’s dark side more.

    That said, one of the reasons for their imperialist expansions of the past has been that they have a resource poor country. They claim they attacked Pearl Harbor because we embargoed fuel to their country. Now again, they have a great need and incentive to obtain fuel sources.

    They and Germany have decided to place themselves on the same side again, both sharing common interests and needs. They have proven to be some of the most frugal, disciplined and industrious peoples over the last century. The same single minded drive that created military industrial superpowers can be refocused in other directions.

    I wouldn’t bet against them making great progress in alternative fuel technology in the near future.

  • Hamilton
    7:55 pm on May 10th, 2012 11

    “I think, of all the people on earth, the Japanese have legitimate reasons to fear nuclear energy. No one else has experienced the consequences of it’s dark side more.”

    Yet people in Dreden presumably still use fire to cook their meals. Baffling.

  • MTB Rider
    8:22 pm on May 10th, 2012 12

    Heck, people in Tokyo still grill on their hibachis…

    No. 1 is the one related to this article. ;-)

  • someotherguy
    8:28 pm on May 14th, 2012 13

    @9 … umm what .. the … huh ??

    Go look up Thorium Cycle and breeder reactors.

    Nuclear reactions are not the same as chemical reactions, your not “taking stuff out” or “putting stuff in”. The power from a nuclear reactor is from the literal destruction of matter and conversion of that matter into energy via e-mc^2. And when I say destruction I’m not talking about burning into ash / gas like what happens in a coal or fossil fuel reactor, I’m talking about the literal destruction of matter. Put in 1000g of fuel pellets, get out 999g of waste material. You put in 1000g of Coal / Fossil Fuel you get out exactly 1000g of waste material, either via ash or gas.

    Right now we’re using a much older uranium cycle, older as in 60+ years old. This cycle is inefficient and results in most of the waste material being unsuitable for further usage without breeder reactors which creates semi-stable plutonium and nobody likes plutonium (the French don’t care). The plutonium can be separated out and made into a weapons grade bomb rather easily, this is in comparison to the difficult problem of having to enrich Uranium to weapons grade status.

    Thorium salt based cycles remedies all these issues, once fueled a reactor can keep reprocessing the same fuel until nearly all 1000g out of 1000g are spent rather then only using a small percentage of spitting the rest out as unstable material. Only issue with Thorium cycle is that it requires special alloys due to how caustic it can be. The MSR-E had to use Hastelloy-N, which at that time was incredibly expensive and few manufacturing companies had experience with it. Every part and component had to be hand crafted which further increased costs. This was in the 60′s by the way. Modern manufacturing can easily mass produce Hastelloy-N made components along modern super high temp turbines to handle the heat from the steam (another issue in the 60′s).

    The waste from LFTR’s has a much shorter life time then the waste from PWR/BRW/LWR’s. Due to this the waste is also hotter.

    Something needs to be understood about radioactive materials, their radioactive because their undergoing decomposition at the sub-atomic level, basically their slow disintegrating and they’ll keep disintegrating until they reach stability. The rate of that disintegration is how radioactive it is, the faster it’s disintegrating the hotter and more dangerous it is but the shorter the time till it reach’s it’s stable form. Low radiation materials can last a very long time but are not hazardous unless in very large doses, we use low radiation materials everyday, in medical science and glow-in-the-dark markers. The nasty stuff is just hot enough that it’s dangerous to humans in small amounts, but cold enough that it takes a long time (to us) to reach a stable form. So high radioactivity and low radioactivity aren’t really an issue, it’s the medium stuff that we’re concerned about. Nuclear waste tends to be predominately low radioactive material, with a dash of high and some medium thrown in. The high is gone rather quickly in the waste cooling ponds, its the small amount of medium left that makes handling such an issuel. Thorium cycle produces waste that can be reprocessed near infinitely with very little needing to be removed / stored / disposed of. I’m not talking a 50% or 100% reduction, no were talking a couple orders of magnitude difference 1,000% to 10,000% less radioactive material. A multi GW power plant that could go 50~100 years without needing to be refueled.

    And I just told you why the NRC and various lobyist groups absolutely do not want a LFTR or MSR built in the USA (reactor companies make most of their money from proprietary fuel rods).

  • Glans
    4:20 am on May 15th, 2012 14

    someotherguy, recycling reactor waste takes out fissile material, which is mildly radioactive and can be reused as fuel. It leaves in dangerously radioactive fission products. Recycling doesn’t change the total amount of radioactive material.

    The great law E = mc^2 is just a conversion factor. 9*10^16 J = 1 kg. In nuclear reactions, compared to chemical reactions, a larger fraction of the total energy is released. However much coal and air is required to produce 9*10^16 J (and it’s a heck of a lot), the mass of the resulting carbon dioxide is 1 kg less.

  • someotherguy
    7:03 pm on May 15th, 2012 15


    Huh what you said makes absolutely no sense. Your also throwing out a red herring at the end.

    You have very little knowledge on how current nuclear reactors are fueled, that is obvious by your statements about recycling and removal.

    Current reactors in the USA use uranium fuel pellets in graphite fuel rods that inserted into water for fission. The material in the rod has a small amount of highly enriched uranium and a large amount of common uranium that is used as feeder material. The highly enriched uranium fissions at a high rate and produces excess neutrons, those neutrons are slowed through the water and caught by the mined uranium which then cause’s it to fission. This process allows the highly enriched uranium to create more fuel by converting the feeder uranium into fuel by fast neutron capture. Unfortunately less feeder uranium is created then it used and eventually you run out of the highly enriched uranium to start the reaction. Once this happens the fuel rod is now deplete and must be removed, most of the uranium is still present but there is not enough highly enriched uranium to sustain the reaction. The rod must then be put inside water to cool and allow the highly radioactive materials to decay. Once that’s done you have two options, reprocess the radioactive fuel rods and put more enriched uranium into them (a process that will inevitably create plutonium) for continued use (this is what the French do) or store the whole thing for a few thousand years for the medium radioactive materials to decay off.

    Now lets talk about a thorium cycle. You still have highly enriched uranium as your starting material, but you’ve also included thorium and regular uranium into the mix. Instead of a fuel pellet in a graphite rod, you have the whole thing dissolved into a molten fluoride salt. The salt acts as the mediating agent for neutron capture and something else happens. Instead of having to rely on fast neutron capture for breeding more fuel during reaction you can instead use thermal capture. This allows more of the uranium to be breed into actual fuel during the reaction, thermal capture actually breeds more fuel then is used and thus it never stops until all the material has been converted into energy or your reactor vessel becomes too brittle to sustain the reaction. You don’t run out of enriched uranium, the fuel never becomes useless radioactive waste. All that needs to be done is on-site removal of radio active byproducts, the actinides that you don’t want in your reaction chamber. These account for less then 1% of the mass of the reactants, all due to side and secondary reactions. This can be all done in the same facility that your reactor is at, all Gen IV MSR / LFTR designs have a reprocessing building adjacent to the reactor building. That is why you can actually use 99% of the fuel material instead of the 1~5% that is typically used in a GEN II pellet / fuel matrix reactor. No cooling ponds needed, no meltdown possible, less then 1% waste. These are reactors that can go 40+ years on a single refueling, that is how self-contained they are. No truck loads of radioactive rods being driven to permanent storage.

    And the icing on the cake, the whole damn reactor is passively safe. Meaning should Glans in a fit of Eco-fanaticism decide to take an axe to the power lines on the cooling system, the reactor will not melt down. There is a freeze plug at the bottom that needs to be cryogenicly frozen. Should the cooling loop fail then the plug will melt and the whole molten salt mix drains into a chamber under the reactor. The chamber is lined with neutron absorbing material, and once the salt starts to cool it will then freeze back into a solid block, it is a salt matrix after all. The salt must be kept over a few hundred degree’s C to maintain it’s liquid form and it’s nuclear reactions can only take place when it’s in liquid form. No Chernobyl, no Three Mile Island.

    But please, continue the anti-nuclear FUD tactics.

  • Glans
    8:54 pm on May 15th, 2012 16

    someotherguy, certain isotopes of the heavy elements plutonium, uranium, and thorium can undergo fission in a controlled fashion, giving up about a tenth of a percent of their mass as heat. These isotopes are mildly radioactive. The fission products, however, have too many neutrons for their protons, and are much more radioactive. In spent fuel, not all of the fissile isotopes have been used, in fact, some less fissile isotopes have been made more fissile. Reprocessing takes these fissile isotopes, so they can be used in a reactor again; we’re giving them a second chance to undergo an energy-producing fission. The result is that mildly radioactive heavy elements are turned into highly radioactive middle-weight elements. Reprocessing doesn’t prevent that, it just insures that more, and ideally all, of the fuel will become fission products.

    Your previous comment about E = mc^2 seemed (to me) to suggest that it applies only to nuclear reactions. Not so. It’s universal. c^2 is just a conversion factor that tells you how many joules equal one kilogram: 9*10^16. You know what a joule is, but for other readers I’ll explain that it’s a watt-second. If you use a 1000-watt appliance for an hour, you turn 3,600,000 joules from the electric company utility into heat. They’ll bill you for a kilowatt-hour.

  • Glans
    12:22 pm on September 13th, 2012 17

    Anti-proton driven fusion will some day send someotherguy to Jupiter. Mike Wall of explains at ScientificAmerican.

  • MTB Rider
    4:30 pm on September 13th, 2012 18

    While taking a break on a bike ride, I read this article:
    1,2,3 and maybe 6 apply…

    Love the way you totally missed the point, Glans. Kind of how you miss the point every time an ancient village is discovered under the ice.

    Yes, the world is indeed warming. Is it a bad thing?

    I wish I could find this one pic showing Global Warming… In the first pic it shows a frozen wasteland, in the second trees are growing all over the place. The pics are 50 years apart. True, proof that Global Warming exists (which I don’t deny, and never have), but makes you wonder if it truly is a “bad thing.”

    I wonder how much potentially arable land is in Siberia… Russia could become the “Breadbasket of the World.”

  • Glans
    5:05 pm on September 13th, 2012 19

    You missed the point, MTB Rider. If you coat little specks of deuterium and tritium with uranium, and you zap them with anti-protons, which will annihilate when they hit the uranium and cause it to fission, the deuterium and tritium will fuse. someotherguy will perfect this technology over the next fifty years, and he’ll be able to build a spacecraft which can reach Jupiter in four months. My friendly advice to you: make your reservation today.

  • TheKorean2
    5:47 pm on September 13th, 2012 20

    Good news for Korea. :lol:

  • someotherguy
    6:47 pm on September 13th, 2012 21

    Lol at glans saying stupid things.

    Your talking about muan catalyst fusion, it’s been known about for decades. Hell fusion is easy, stupidly easy. Glans even someone like you can build a small fission reactor for under 10 grand USD. The problem is making an efficient fusion reactor, efficient as in it produces more energy then it takes to run. That pretty much shoots muan catalyzed fusion into the ground as making the muans takes entirety too much energy. Also tritium is an unstable element with a half life of approx 12 years. I understand your knowledge of it is based entirely on Spiderman 2, so I must bear with you here. Most fusion reactions involved DD not DT, though you can breed tritium inside a DD reactor as it’s one of the side reactions that happens. DT is easy to get to fuse, it’s making enough Tritium that is the issue.

    Again … efficiency is the problem.

  • Glans
    8:08 pm on September 13th, 2012 22

    Thanks for bearing with me, tiger. Click on the link. You’ll see that it’s based on anti-protons, not muons. Not even muans! And it’s DT, not DD. Heck, if you can produce anti-protons in sufficient quantity, tritium ain’t no problem. Come on, someotherguy, you can do it! Even without ChickenHead.

    Matter can work miracles.

  • Scientist
    8:23 pm on September 13th, 2012 23

    “we use low radiation materials everyday, in medical science and glow-in-the-dark markers.”

    Someone is mistaking phosphorescence, a harmless quantum effect of delayed photon re-emission, with radioluminescence, which drives phosphorescence through ionizing radiation.

    Radioluminescence has probably never been used in “glow-in-the-dark markers” for a number of reasons.

    “Happy birthday, Billy, here is your radium-infused marker. Why don’t you draw a nice glow-in-the-dark picture of a bone cancer patient at the children’s hospital.”

  • someotherguy
    9:30 pm on September 13th, 2012 24


    No I was specifically speaking about tritium paint / devices not phosphorescence. This is a military board and the military happens to use quite a few devices with tritium inside them. It’s used in devices that need to be see at night hence the “glow in the dark” reference. Next time I’ll be a bit more clear.

    Problem with DT is making the T in enough quantity. That’s why it’s breed in the reaction of DD instead of before hand, more efficient that way.

    Liberal arts majors shouldn’t’ be attempting to discuss nuclear physics, they always get it wrong.

  • Glans
    6:06 am on September 14th, 2012 25

    someotherguy, do you still not get it? This fusion technique, which I think you can master within a few decades, uses anti-protons. They are even harder to make and store than tritium. When you’ve solved the problems of anti-protons, tritium will be utterly trivial. Click the link in Glans 17. This is a serious proposal, which you should be able to implement before 2062.

  • Setnaffa
    7:44 am on September 14th, 2012 26

    It’s so easy… That explains why no one is using it… Because Exxon is holding them back, eh? Or is it still Bush/Cheney/Halliburton? :mrgreen:

  • Setnaffa
    7:58 am on September 14th, 2012 27

    @23, Your statement “Radioluminescence has probably never been used in “glow-in-the-dark markers” for a number of reasons.” shows a lack of attention to detail…

    Please do research before posting obvious and easy to refute positions… :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  • Glans
    12:15 pm on September 14th, 2012 28

    Scientist 23, maybe you thought glow-in-the-dark markers were felt-tip pens with radioactive ink. No, they’re sealed buttons, as you can see at Oak Ridge Associated Universities.

  • Scientist
    1:32 pm on September 14th, 2012 29

    No research was needed, Setnaffa. My statement stands. Radium paint is not a “glow-in-the-dark marker” as I understood it.

    As Glans pointed out, I took that to be a Magic Marker which, unlike dried (and often contained) radium paint, would be a potential hazard to the user; just as liquid radium paint was to the Radium Girls.

    I now understand “marker” in this context to mean a sealed container of radioluminescent material used to mark things. That’s fine.

    Although, with a halflife of 1601 years, one could wonder what happened to all the old “markers”.

  • Teadrinker
    6:46 pm on September 14th, 2012 30


    Yup, and I think anyone who’s served in the military would be aware that they are using tritium in the same manner nowadays.

    (I’ve also used tritium when doing protein electrophoresis, but that’s a whole different story).

  • Teadrinker
    7:00 pm on September 14th, 2012 31

    Here you go…

  • Setnaffa
    7:43 pm on September 14th, 2012 32

    Apparently some scientists don’t need research… They just receive “Divine Inspiration” from the soju they drink…

  • Setnaffa
    7:44 pm on September 14th, 2012 33

    Sorry… “scientists”…

  • Teadrinker
    9:27 pm on September 14th, 2012 34


    Sorry I had missed that you had already mentioned tritium.

    Brilliant argument, by the way. ;-)


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