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Author Topic: Why not RTGs for electrical generation?  (Read 2895 times)

Offline Eric A. Taylor

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Why not RTGs for electrical generation?
« on: 02/09/2010 06:11:28 »
Radio Thermal Generators (RTGs) are very simple nuclear power plants developed for the space program. They use a highly radio active element (plutonium I think) to generate electricity. They are very simple, very reliable, and last a very long time (decades). They were used to power lunar expansiveness on the moon and used to power deeps space probes like Voyager and Pioneer. Most of them are still working even after 40 years, never having been maintained by humans.

I imagine a house with an RTG buried maybe 50 or 100 feet under the house and providing enough electricity to run the house for 40 or 50 years. All without a single bit of greenhouse gas. This would also completely eliminate the need for transition lines, which are a HUGE drain on energy.

I know there are safety and security problems, but surly these could be worked out. It would be very expensive to have the units installed and replaced but would otherwise be free, which means you'd pay a lot once or twice every 50 years! I'm willing to bet it less expensive than 50 years worth of power and gas bills.


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Why not RTGs for electrical generation?
« Reply #1 on: 02/09/2010 06:52:21 »
Where would you get the plutonium (or whatever)?

Also, but less importantly;
It would turn every major explosion into a potential "dirty bomb".
To extract energy you need a cold sink as well as a hot source; that might be tricky 50 feet underground.
 

Offline tommya300

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Why not RTGs for electrical generation?
« Reply #2 on: 02/09/2010 22:21:46 »
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Dirty bombs... a simple earth tremor, a bad lot of prefabricated housings. Our fresh water table is about 100 feet deep. Even the septic systems are managed to filter the waste naturally.
The 1/2 life of crap compared to the 1/2 life of some nuclear substance. I rather take my chances standing in a pile of crap, than to drive by a pile of nuclear material.
Access is always the bottom line for maintenance, as far as military specifications, the overhead cost will out weighs the end results. I do not think that it will be or it can be commercialized, mass produced, hold a mil spec and be cost affective.
Look what happens when things get to the point to a casual everyday operation. People tend to slack at their jobs, 3rd party inspectors to the rig management to the CEO responsible and then some accident happens.
 If this happens to a situation where nuclear substances are present, oh I am sorry will never fix it.

6 too many accidents from 1952 to 1999, they had teams of educated people managing and supporting them all before the disasters. Can you imagine what would happen with the or when the everyday population has their hands on this stuff? Which one would fit suicide, homicide or genocide

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jmoilane/nuclear/Accidents.html

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chernobyl_burning-aerial_view_of_core.jpg

Way to dirty for my residence, how about it?
« Last Edit: 02/09/2010 23:24:35 by tommya300 »
 

Offline wolfekeeper

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Why not RTGs for electrical generation?
« Reply #3 on: 02/09/2010 23:10:52 »
Also, but less importantly;
It would turn every major explosion into a potential "dirty bomb".
Dirty bombs are a myth. By cost, by far the most dangerous bit of a dirty bomb is the explosive.

Any RTG is going to be sealed up tight with heavy shielding for the radiation, blowing it up is going to be very difficult, and need lots of explosive. And even then you'd be very likely to get big chunks that are very easy to clean up.

No, the big problem with RTGs is the cost, AFAIK they're very inefficient and expensive ways of extracting nuclear energy from fissile material.
 

Offline tommya300

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Why not RTGs for electrical generation?
« Reply #4 on: 03/09/2010 00:03:42 »
What happens to an RTG if it is not properly cooled?
What happens  to the heavy shielding?
Is  pressure venting necessary?
Can this venting contaminate?
« Last Edit: 03/09/2010 01:02:08 by tommya300 »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Why not RTGs for electrical generation?
« Reply #5 on: 03/09/2010 06:54:25 »
"Dirty bombs are a myth. By cost, by far the most dangerous bit of a dirty bomb is the explosive."
For most groups or individuals who would use a dirty bomb, the most useful part is the propaganda.

On a practical basis they are, as you say, a total washout.
Having access to lots of very radioactive material by just opening an RTF would make it much easier to make such a bomb.
 

Offline syhprum

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Why not RTGs for electrical generation?
« Reply #6 on: 04/09/2010 06:50:11 »
There is a world shortage of the highly radioactive form of Plutonium (U239 ?) to the extent that NASA are developing Stirling engine type PSU,s that will generate the same amount of power with less of this scarce materiel.
 

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Why not RTGs for electrical generation?
« Reply #6 on: 04/09/2010 06:50:11 »

 

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