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USEC Inc. Message Board

muffdad1 13 posts  |  Last Activity: Dec 24, 2014 5:05 PM Member since: Jan 30, 2006
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  • muffdad1 muffdad1 Dec 24, 2014 5:05 PM Flag

    Lewis, this information is important for both historical and technical reasons. Much like New York State failing to allow fracking (in my considered opinion, no scientific basis for doing so), the Carter Administration seemed not to be interested in this form of nuclear technology.

    As Dr. Zhang has indicated, the uranium-238 isotope is underutilized in comparison to the uranium-235 isotope. What he has not stated for attribution is that uranium-238 can be a neutron absorber. This means that when an atom of uranium-238 accepts a neutron, it becomes uranium-239. The uranium-239 isotope can undergo two beta decays to initially generate neptunium-239 and shortly thereafter plutonium-239.

    The formation of any of the plutonium-239 isotope is what likely (pun intended) spooked the Carter Administration. The safe handling of the plutonium-239 isotope ought to be articulated by the Chinese. The technology has improved in many ways in the past four decades, so we need to learn from the Chinese.

  • muffdad1 muffdad1 Dec 23, 2014 5:12 PM Flag

    Mickey, this is a good question. I trust that the answer is NO, but with most politicians, it is unclear how they will act when chemicals are involved.

    The issue with ammonium nitrate is that it becomes a source of oxygen and therefore enables the combustion process of carbon-bearing fuels. The other complication with ammonium nitrate is that when it reacts, many of its reaction products are gases. This creates potentially serious issues with pressure build-up and containment.

    When handled properly, the tails cylinders ought not exhibit similar hazards.

  • Reply to

    OT: Fracking Banned in New York

    by lewis_whokeyser Dec 17, 2014 8:21 PM
    muffdad1 muffdad1 Dec 23, 2014 5:06 PM Flag

    Sarge, back at you with Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

    The gent from Chillicothe is still with us. He remains a great friend and ally.

    Many of us who are college football fans appreciate what the Buckeyes mean to Ohio. For three-and-one-half hours, "the world stops" for me when the Buckeyes are on the gridiron.

  • Reply to

    Docu-drama on Hyman Rickover on PBS

    by sponge_bob_is_no_square Dec 18, 2014 3:09 PM
    muffdad1 muffdad1 Dec 20, 2014 2:17 PM Flag

    JJP, the Paducah Plant was limited (by design) to enrich to LEU levels (and not to HEU levels). The NRC license (during the recent years of operation) indicated the maximum enrichment level. My recollection was at or less than 10% in the uranium-235 isotope.

    I'm not sure how large the HEU stockpile is, but the likelihood is that there is enough of it for the near-term needs. While some of us (me specifically) are often cynical about what the federal government does, it would be hard to imagine that the HEU situation was not factored in to decision to close the Paducah Plant.

    The immediate need in uranium enrichment is for LEU (as commercial reactor fuel). The ACP (when operational) will be vastly more efficient than the Paducah Plant (and the previously closed Portsmouth Plant). The Paducah and Portsmouth Plants used gaseous diffusion technology for effecting enrichment.

    While I am not privy to the details of the ACP design, it ought to be possible for additional centrifuges to be included in the enrichment cascade. These additional centrifuges would (theoretically) enable an increase in the concentration of the uranium-235 isotope to levels beyond LEU. If this were to be the case, then the NRC license would reflect the intention for this higher level of enrichment.

  • Reply to

    OT: Fracking Banned in New York

    by lewis_whokeyser Dec 17, 2014 8:21 PM
    muffdad1 muffdad1 Dec 19, 2014 9:39 AM Flag

    From my perspective, Gov. Cuomo's decision is wrong for at least two reasons.

    The first one is that when the fracking operation gets going, there is a significant new (and probably multi-decade) revenue stream to NYS. When one considers that NYS is effectively a welfare state, these funds would enable this historical largesse to continue. [These words are spoken (to all who listen) by a native son, who had been educated through graduate school in the Empire State, and who has effectively "been in exile" for 40 years.]

    The second one is that the politicians who run NYS seem to be petrified about what can happen if ordinary citizens acquire private wealth via their mineral rights. When people have the resources to give to charity, to build material wealth, and to significantly reduce their debt, etc., this is accompanied by less dependence on their fellow tax-payer. In short, for those of Gov. Cuomo's political bent, it means exercising less fiscal/monetary control over NYS citizens (subjects?) than presently exists.

    If this were truly a scientific issue, then NYS should have consulted with the regulators in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Since it was clearly (in my considered opinion) a political decision to ban fracking, there was no reason for Gov. Cuomo et al. to get the (inconvenient) facts from knowledgeable people in these two nearby states.

  • Reply to

    Docu-drama on Hyman Rickover on PBS

    by sponge_bob_is_no_square Dec 18, 2014 3:09 PM
    muffdad1 muffdad1 Dec 19, 2014 9:25 AM Flag

    JJP, unless the design on the reactors has changed (and the specification for the fuel), the Navy reactors did require highly enriched uranium (HEU) to operate. The low enriched uranium (LEU) business developed as the commercial energy market grew. As the Cold War wound down, production of LEU become the most significant component in this business (that it is today).

  • Reply to

    Docu-drama on Hyman Rickover on PBS

    by sponge_bob_is_no_square Dec 18, 2014 3:09 PM
    muffdad1 muffdad1 Dec 19, 2014 9:21 AM Flag

    After Admiral Rickover's passing, my recollection is that an exam was given to determine one's qualifications for entry in the Navy Nuclear program. My memory indicates that the score had to be in the upper 90s to qualify. I'd have to check my files, but as high as I apparently had scored, it was below the minimum required. My score was acceptable for the Surface Warfare program. It is my considered experience that only the best of the best are accepted into the Navy Nuclear program (in parallel for the incredibly mentally/physically fit to become SEALs).

  • muffdad1 muffdad1 Dec 9, 2014 9:22 PM Flag

    Lewis, if 7 ounces of U-238 is worth $2.1 million, we can estimate the value of 48 tons by dividing by 16 (for pounds), multiplying by 2000 (for tons), and then scaling by 48 for the full weight noted. My initial calculation is on the order of $12.6 billion.

    As you know, tails cylinders may be half full or less. Irrespective of how full each cylinder is, the value is (by this reckoning) at least $3 billion. I cannot imagine how this could possibly be correct, since the tails cylinder inventory could then theoretically be liquidated to eliminate the national debt!

    On a related note, several years ago the NY Times published an article about water reservoirs in California. The Times reported the water volumes in acre-feet. This volume term is effectively the amount of water that can cover one acre of land to a depth of one foot. Since there are 43,560 square feet in an acre, one acre-foot = 43,560 cubic feet.

    My recollection is that The Times considered that California had a need for trillions of acre-feet of water, rather than billions of acre-feet of water. The key point is that when one trillion square feet are converted to square miles, the answer is on the order of 36,000 square miles! This area is (of course) greater than that of some states! [Reservoirs larger in area than some states was of considerable interest to me!]

    Several of us wrote to The Times and the correction was made!

  • muffdad1 muffdad1 Dec 6, 2014 9:28 AM Flag

    The nuclear reactor and the accelerator both need neutrons to produce additional neutrons. The connection of ACP to the production of neutrons is based on the production of uranium-235 isotope to a sufficiently high level in an efficient uranium enrichment process. This is (per my understanding) where the ACP comes in.

    It is the bombarding of the uranium-235 isotope with (slow) neutrons that enables nuclear fission. The uranium-235 isotope's nucleus is split into (theoretically) two new smaller nuclei (where the atomic numbers of these new smaller nuclei sum to 92) and neutrons. The number of neutrons formed will vary, but the key is that the mass balance is maintained (the sum of the atomic masses or weights of the two smaller nuclei and the neutrons so produced must total 235 mass units).

    Tritium is a form of heavy hydrogen. It has the one proton (characteristic of hydrogen = atomic number 1) and two neutrons (yielding an atomic mass or weight of 3 mass units) in its nucleus. The additional neutrons must come from somewhere. Neutrons captured/collected via the accelerator and nuclear fission processes appear to be effective sources of neutrons in generating tritium.

  • Reply to

    World Has Gotten Hotter, Weirder

    by danageorge21 Dec 4, 2014 8:03 AM
    muffdad1 muffdad1 Dec 4, 2014 10:54 AM Flag

    Peter, thank you for sharing the facts!

  • Reply to

    OT: Energy From Salt Water

    by lewis_whokeyser Nov 27, 2014 12:26 PM
    muffdad1 muffdad1 Nov 27, 2014 12:37 PM Flag

    Lewis, my thinking on this is that pore size in the filters needs to be precise/selective (e.g., small for the sodium ions and a little bit larger for the chloride ions). In addition, when these two ions are allowed to come together in the aqueous medium (this would need to be well controlled), the lattice energy associated with the formation of salt crystals is likely what is harnessed (in some fashion) as the source of the so-called blue energy.

  • Reply to

    OT: Iran Nuke Talks Fail

    by lewis_whokeyser Nov 24, 2014 9:51 AM
    muffdad1 muffdad1 Nov 24, 2014 11:08 AM Flag

    The rank amateurs involved in the negotiations with the Iranians simply are incapable of understanding why any relaxation of sanctions must be a non-starter. If the Iranians are interested in producing low enriched uranium (ca. 3% to 5% of the uranium-235 isotope) for commercial power reactors (alleged peace-time use), then there is no reason for them to have the additional centrifuges necessary for enrichment to 20% of the uranium-235 isotope.

    Unless otherwise declared, there isn't any reason for domestic Iranian uranium enrichment to exceed 10% in the uranium-235 isotope. When the feedstock is 20% enriched in the uranium-235 isotope, the amount of energy required to prepare bomb-grade material (ca. 90% enrichment in the uranium-235 isotope) is drastically reduced.

    So that there is no ambiguity for Secretary Kerry et al., what I have described in the previous paragraph MUST NEVER HAPPEN in Iran, especially with current apocalyptic regime in power.

  • Reply to

    my centrifuge is bigger than your's

    by gojeera Oct 5, 2014 10:12 AM
    muffdad1 muffdad1 Oct 5, 2014 12:46 PM Flag

    The Urenco centrifuges are the equivalent of Toyota cars built prior to about 2010. Good, reliable, and solid vehicles that last and last. The ACP centrifuges are the equivalent of cars built after 2010. The reliability issues of the ACP centrifuges are being determined now. The separative efficiency ultimately will be better via the ACP process with the proviso that the centrifuges "keep on turning." The net result ought to be lower costs over time. I am far enough removed from the loop to know if projections have been made to compare the per SWU cost between each of the manufacturers.

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