Nuclear Power the solution to global warming? 2

I think not! One of the problems with nuclear power plants, is that they require some type medium to cool the reactor and keep the nuclear reaction under control. On the majority of reactors they use water flowing around the reactor to manage the temperature. Unfortunately water can only absorb a limited amount of heat energy. The amount of heat that can be absorbed is a function of the temperature difference between the water and the item to be cooled. The higher temperature, the less heat it can absorb at a given flow rate. Now that the heat transfer lesson is complete, here comes the problem. Nuclear plants are typically constructed near bodies of water like rivers and lakes. They draw in cold water, pass it around the reactor and eject the hot water.

Nuclear power has been proposed as a way to produce power without creating green house gases. The problem this week as Europe bakes in a heat wave similar to what we are seeing here, is that the temperature of rivers has risen so much that nuclear plants sitting on their banks can’t be cooled enough to operate. So as the demand for power for air conditioning reaches a peak, many of the power plants are shutting down because they can’t cool down enough to operate safely. So what do you do now? We need to use less energy!!

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2 thoughts on “Nuclear Power the solution to global warming?

  • Eric


    (I’m having trouble leaving comments…am I using the wrong name or something?)

    The European problem sounds more like a design flaw. They didn’t plan for hot weather. Remember, we have nuke plants like Palos Verde in Arizona and Comanche Peak in Texas that don’t shut down just when their customers need the power.

    But, yes, light water reactors main liability is heat removal. There are next generation designs that don’t require water for moderator or heat removal — the pebble bed design, for example.

    But getting new ideas to proceed through production, financing, construction and regulatory hurdles is tough in any case. Throw in the nuclear fear factor and progress grinds to a standstill.