This article was printed in CONTROL's May 2009 edition.
Nuclear the Way to Go?
I found Mr. Lipták’s article on the “Future of Nuclear Energy” (March 2009) to be dismissive of this form of power generation.
Not considering breeder reactor technology on the basis of weapons proliferation is a weak argument at best, as conventional nuclear reactors breed plutonium (at lesser rates, of course). The promise of limitless nuclear fuel reserves cannot be dismissed so easily. Generation IV (fast neutron) reactors use 60 times the amount of energy from uranium as the conventional and wasteful once-through cycle. All of which, seems to dispute Mr. Lipták’s claims on longevity of our present world-wide nuclear fuel reserves.
No mention is made of pebble-bed, EPR or thermal breeder reactors using thorium, whose present reserves are four times greater than uranium, or of new fuel reprocessing technologies, such as actinide impurification, which would mitigate the dangers of weapons proliferation. Many of the new generation of reactors are improving efficiency, while minimizing waste, and improving reactor safety.
I would expect this kind of article in Greenpeace magazine not in one whose focus is science and technology.
I have never worked for the nuclear industry in any capacity, but it doesn’t take a nuclear physicist to understand that if the energy in an equivalent weight of fissionable uranium (enriched to 4% and assuming a once-through cycle) is 2.2 million times as great as an equivalent weight of petroleum, then the promise of nuclear energy is inescapable.
To meet the demands of a growing world population, bringing developed and underdeveloped nations’ living standards on par with the U.S., meeting global demand for fresh water through desalination and reducing CO2 emissions, the widespread use of nuclear energy is inevitable. Wind and solar energy cannot provide continuous, reliable and sufficient energy to meet these demands. They are effectively a form of energy conservation and can’t realistically meet more than 5 % of the energy demands of advanced industrial economies.
If nuclear energy is inevitable as a long-term global solution, why waste limited resources on wind and solar energy?
Al Rogers, PE
Unfair to Lawyers?
I take offense at the statement in your April editorial ("How Safe is Safe? How Secure is Secure?") that “the lawyers think the company has to do only as much as is necessary about functional safety or functional security to be in compliance.” Maybe that is who you’ve encountered, but none of the lawyers I’ve had the pleasure of practicing with have that attitude, including me.
Laura M. Slenzak, Esq.
I really liked your comment in the March 2009 editorial ("It’s Not Just a Job"): “Welcome to the Hotel Automation! You can check out but you can never leave.” It reminded me of another industry adage: “How do you make a small fortune in process analyzers? Start with a large fortune and find a real job quick!”
Robert E. Sherman
ISA Fellow; BP - Husky Refining LLC
I just listened to your podcast on the future of simulation on ControlGlobal.com (www.controlglobal.com/multimedia/2009/VRsimulation0904.html). Very good material and [you gave listeners] a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.