How 1,500 Nuclear-Powered Water Desalination Plants Could Save The World From Desertification

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2019/07/14/megadroughts-and-desalination-another-pressing-need-for-nuclear-power/

How 1,500 Nuclear-Powered Water Desalination Plants Could Save The World From Desertification

By James Conca

July 14, 2019

About 20% of the world’s population has no access to safe drinking water, and this number will increase as the population continues to grow and global freshwater sources continue to decline. The worst-affected areas are the arid and semiarid regions of Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

UNESCO has reported that the freshwater shortfall worldwide will rise to 500 trillion gallons/yr by 2025. They expect water wars to break out in the near-future. The World Economic Forum says that shortage of fresh water may be the primary global threat in the next decade.

But 500 trillion gallons/year only requires about 1,500 seawater desalination plants like the ones being built in California and Saudi Arabia. At a billion dollars a pop, that’s a lot cheaper than war and starvation.

Unfortunately, we presently desalinate only 10 trillion gallons/year worldwide.

As reported in the Tri-City Herald and NYTimes, stock exchange mutual funds have even formed surrounding water scarcity and have done quite well, like the AllianzGI Global Water Fund. This fund has averaged almost 10% since 2010 compared to under 6% for its average peer fund. These companies mainly deliver, test and clean drinking water.

In California, the MegaDrought, that ended in 2017 ran for five years, severely straining water supplies, agricultural needs and wildlife. It clarified the need to build new desalination plants like every other modern arid population in the world. Most of Abu Dhabi’s gas-fired power plants provide electricity to their huge desalination plants that deliver over a billion gallons of drinking water a day, at about 40¢/gallon. And it tastes good, too, I’ve tried it.

California needs 30 large desalination plants to deal with future megadroughts. They did recently build one in Carlsbad, but it’s not nearly enough.

Desalination technologies are capable of treating water from a wide variety of sources, including brackish groundwater, surface water, seawater, and domestic and industrial wastewater. While the wastewater from desalination is itself problematic, MIT has developed a process to turn it into useful products.

The two main types of desalination are:

– thermal desalination (using heat energy to separate the distillate from high salinity water), represented by Multiple Effect Distillation (MED), Multi-Stage Flash distillation (MSF) and Mechanical Vapor Compression (MVC), the latter primarily used to desalinate highly salty waters and industrial wastewater for industrial use, not necessarily for drinking.

– reverse osmosis (RO) membrane separation, which uses a membrane barrier and pumping energy to separate salts from the water. These are common in homes and businesses.

Electrical energy is used for membrane-based systems and thermal energy is used for distillation systems. Some hybrid plants combine both membrane and distillation.

Most desalination plants in the world use fossil fuels to power them, but it’s even better to power them with nuclear energy. The new fleet of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) are ideal as they produce both thermal energy and electrical energy without producing greenhouse gases.

But only 15 out of the thousands of desalination plants operating today worldwide are powered by nuclear. A small one is at the Canyon Diablo Nuclear Plant in California, slated to be closed soon. The plant could power several huge desalination plants for decades that could desalinate its own cooling water, removing the most commonly stated problem with the plant.

In contrast, all nuclear-powered naval vessels routinely use nuclear energy to desalinate seawater.

SMRs, like NuScale’s, allow places with smaller electrical grids and limited infrastructure to add new electrical and water capacity in small increments and allow countries to site them as needed at many distributed locations. NuScale’s small power module is in its last stages of licensing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and will be ready in only a few years.

NuScale’s small power modules are about 60 MW each and up to 12 of them can be put together to make a power plant up to 720 MW – a 12-pack. They use standard 17×17 PWR fuel assemblies, but only at half the height, with an average U235 enrichment of only 3.8%. A single NuScale nuclear power module is 76-feet tall and 15-feet in diameter, and sits in a plant covering 32 acres or only 0.05 square miles.

Refueling of any SMR does not require the nuclear plant to shut down. The small size and large surface area-to-volume ratio of the reactor core, that sits below ground in a super seismic-resistant heat sink, allows natural processes to cool it indefinitely in the case of complete power blackout, with no humans needed to intervene, no AC or DC power, no pumps, and no additional water for cooling.

This reactor cannot melt down.

Studies by Ingersoll and others show how nuclear power and desalination can be coupled, and how much it costs. They coupled a NuScale power plant with eight modules to each of the desalination technologies – Multiple Effect Distillation (MED) and Multi-Stage Flash distillation (MSF) with either high pressure (HP) steam taken before admission into the turbine, medium pressure (MP) steam taken from a controlled extraction of the turbine, and low pressure (LP) steam taken from the exhaust end of the turbine, and reverse osmosis (RO).

They sized the desalination plant to have a production capacity of 50 million gallons per day (190,000 m3/day) of drinking water, typical of a large municipal desalination plant like the Carlsbad Desalination Plant, and that can support a population of 300,000.

The table below summarizes their economic analysis. For drinking water, the NuScale-RO design is the cheapest and produces the most water per energy used, with LP-MED distillation a close second. Since a NuScale power plant will last at least 80 years, the payback­­­ is even better.

There are other technologies that have been, and are ­­being, used as well, including the more economical water reuse. The City of Redlands in California is using a membrane bioreactor technology from GE that recycles over 6 million gallons/day of municipal wastewater.

Whatever technologies are selected, southern California needs to build the equivalent of 30 desalination plants the size of Carlsbad’s to produce over a billion gallons a day, solving most of the water problems of southern California. The Central Valley would need another 30 plants to deal with its agricultural needs as its groundwater is becoming increasingly salty.

Powered by SMRs, these plants would more than pay for themselves by their own revenue, although a small water tax would get them started faster.

California better get moving. It’s been a reasonable two years, but more MegaDroughts are on the way.

January 27, 2022. Tags: , , . Desalination, Nuclear power, Technology. 1 comment.

Germany’s phaseout of nuclear power is causing an increase in the use of fossil fuels, which is causing more than 1,100 additional deaths each year

This is a quote from a scientific paper on Germany’s phaseout of nuclear power:

“Put another way, the phase-out resulted in more than 1,100 additional deaths per year from increased concentrations of SO2, NOx, and PM. The increase in production from hard coal plants is again the key driver here, making up roughly 80% of the increase in mortality impacts.”

Source: Page 25 at this link https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w26598/w26598.pdf

Either the people who support this phaseout are extremely illiterate when it comes to science, or they are deliberately killing these people. I wonder which one it is.

September 29, 2021. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Nuclear power, Science, Technology. Leave a comment.

Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than do nuclear power plants

https://environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2017/6/21/are-we-headed-for-a-solar-waste-crisis

Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than do nuclear power plants.

If solar and nuclear produce the same amount of electricity over the next 25 years that nuclear produced in 2016, and the wastes are stacked on football fields, the nuclear waste would reach the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (52 meters), while the solar waste would reach the height of two Mt. Everests (16 km).

solar waste

June 1, 2021. Tags: , , , , . Environmentalism, Nuclear power. Leave a comment.

In the past five years, in order to protect the environment, California has shut down 9,000 MW of natural gas capacity – enough to power 6.8 million homes

By Daniel Alman (aka Dan from Squirrel Hill)

August 23, 2020

In the past five years, in order to protect the environment, California has shut down 9,000 MW of natural gas capacity – enough to power 6.8 million homes.

I can understand shutting down the natural gas plants – if they were being replaced by new nuclear plants.

But instead of building new nuclear plants, California has been shutting down its already existing nuclear plants, and is planning to close the very last last one in 2025.

Solar power doesn’t work when the sun isn’t shining.

Wind power doesn’t work when the wind isn’t blowing.

Anyone in California who opposes both fossil fuels and nuclear power, but also complains about electricity blackouts, is a hypocrite.

August 23, 2020. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Nuclear power. 3 comments.

Save the World with Nuclear Power – Leslie Dewan – TEDxUniversityofRochester

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoAcntoAVXE

December 14, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Nuclear power, Science, Technology. Leave a comment.

TED Talk: Michael Shellenberger explains why he switched from being anti-nuclear power to pro-nuclear power

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciStnd9Y2ak

September 14, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Nuclear power, Science, Technology. Leave a comment.

TEDx Talk: Michael Shellenberger explains why nuclear power is cleaner, safer, cheaper, more reliable, and more environmentally friendly than solar power and wind power

This 18 minute TEDx Talk by Michael Shellenberger is one of the best pro-nuclear power, anti-solar power, anti-wind power arguments that I have ever heard.

He cites a huge number of statistics to show that compared to solar power and wind power, nuclear power is far better for the environment, far cleaner, far better for animals, far safer for humans, far more reliable, far cheaper, and has a far smaller environmental footprint.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-yALPEpV4w

March 14, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Nuclear power. 2 comments.

Vermont just replaced its only only nuclear reactor (which had accounted for 71.8% of the state’s electricity production) with fossil fuels obtained from fracking

For the past 42 years, Vermont’s only nuclear power plant was responsible for 71.8% of the state’s electricity production. This huge amount of electricity was generated by a single nuclear reactor.

Vermont has just shut down this reactor.

The replacement energy source for this shut down reactor is shale gas, a fossil fuel whose combustion causes global warming, and which is obtained from fracking.

And all this time, I had thought that liberals in Vermont were against fossil fuels, fracking, and global warming.

Meanwhile, France, which gets 80% of its electricity from nuclear power, has the cleanest air in the industrialized world, and the cheapest electricity in Europe.

There are new nuclear power plants currently under construction in the U.S., but all of them are in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, which are not exactly thought of as bastions of liberalism and environmentalism.

 

 

February 1, 2015. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Nuclear power, Politics. 23 comments.

The world’s supply of resources is getting bigger, not smaller

According to the laws of physics, the total quantity of mass and energy is fixed. Therefore, we cannot “create” new mass or energy, and we cannot “use up” the mass and energy that we already have.

But there is something else that we can do – we can invent, build, and use technology to increase our standard of living. For example, petroleum was worthless until someone with a brain invented a way to use it, at which point the petroleum became a valuable resource. Likewise, today we take rocks that used to be worthless, and turn them into computer chips that are worth trillions of dollars.
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July 5, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Desalination, Economics, Environmentalism, Nuclear power, Overpopulation, Politics, Science, Technology. 11 comments.

Germany replaces nuclear power with coal power, at insistence of environmentalists

In recent years, the environmental movement in Germany has persuaded the country to shut down one third if its nuclear power generating capacity.

Of that shut down nuclear capacity, more than 80% of it has been replaced with fossil fuels.
(more…)

July 5, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Nuclear power, Politics, Science, Technology. 1 comment.