June 8, 2006 7:40 PM PDT

Silicon Valley, Greenpeace co-founder say yes to nuclear

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Microbes enlisted to capture uranium

May 22, 2006
Peter Wagner, a general partner at venture firm Accel, predicts there will be nuclear powered cars on the streets of San Francisco in a decade.

You've just got to think of it more as indirect nuclear power. Cars won't have reactors, he explained during a panel discussion at the Venture Capital Investing Conference taking place in San Francisco. Instead, nuclear power will become a more acceptable form of energy to the American public as gas prices continue to climb and global warming worsens.

Nuclear power will provide electricity to the grid, and individuals will charge electric cars by plugging them into the wall, in a scenario laid out by Wagner. Some drivers will also possibly be able to charge their cars through solar panels mounted on garage roofs.

"The only thing that can move the needle (in fossil fuel consumption) in scale and cost is nuclear," he said. "A nuclear renaissance makes very compelling logic."

While few are on the road now, electric cars are gaining a smattering of adherents. Some hobbyists are building plug-in hybrids, which run almost completely on electricity, while start-up Tesla Motors next month will start selling an all-electric sports car.

Nuclear power is still politically unpopular, and some scientists say it shouldn't be used to address global warming. The Union of Concerned Scientists, for example, points to three deal breakers: nuclear waste, the risk of catastrophic accidents and the potential for terrorists to target nuclear plants. Still, nuclear power is cropping up more these days. Patrick Moore, a Greenpeace founder, has founded GreenSpirit, an environmental group that supports nuclear power.

"I believe the majority of environmental activists, including those at Greenpeace, have now become so blinded by their extremism that they fail to consider the enormous and obvious benefits of harnessing nuclear power to meet and secure America's growing energy needs," the controversial Moore testified in front of Congress in April 2005. "If America is to meet its ever increasing demands for energy, then the American nuclear industry must be revitalized and allowed to grow."

Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman has written articles with Moore in support of nuclear growth in recent weeks.

In Europe, nuclear has never gone out of fashion. Last year, French government officials touted their country as a tech destination and one benefit was the cheap cost of energy. France has excess nuclear-generated electricity so it can export it to Spain and Italy.

Researchers in the U.S. are also trying to make nuclear power safer. At Georgia Institute of Technology, researchers have isolated a microbe that can prevent uranium in the soil from leeching into groundwater.

Li-Bu Tan, chairman of venture firm Walden International, said he wouldn't mind seeing a comeback in nuclear, but partly for personal reasons. He is trained as a nuclear engineer.

See more CNET content tagged:
nuclear power, co-founder, fossil fuel, venture-capital company, electricity

30 comments

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Nuclear powered cars?? yeah right
It would take a warehouse of paperwork to put in a nuclear power plant with 20 ft. thick concrete walls and they think we will have nuke cars in 10 years?

I quit reading there and I already know the people making that claim obviously have a financial interest in the attention gained from making it.

I think it takes 10 years just to get approval to put in a nuclear power plant. I think we should look at some of the emerging technologies, but I also think the idea that we would start with something portable and accident prone like automobiles is a very stupid idea.

Lets figure out how to use clean energy for the grid first then see where we can go from there.

It is a shame you had to start off such a potentially useful article by making such an irresponsible claim.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry :/
I should have continued reading, but my blood pressure spiked and my vision blurred in anger as soon as I finished "..venture firm Accel, predicts there will be nuclear powered cars on the streets of San Francisco in a decade."

Although I suppose the sensationalism was intended to get reader intention, it is a bit like saying "MySpace founder Tom expected to rape thousands females by 2016" and then elaborating later to say that he is only providing the technology used by others to do it.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Link Flag
Why not???
I know that there are government regulations that make the process so hard, but it's not impossible, especially if the government is the one that wants to pursue it. Look at nuclear power currently used in the military. Also, back in World War II when we, as a nation, worked in a mad frensy to develope the atomic bomb before anyone else. It certainly didn't take years of paperwork and regulation then did it? The US government just needs a little motivation and it'll do whatever the heck it wants to. Point being if another country, most likely China or Japan starts research for automobile nuclear production, you better believe the US will jump right on that band wagon as they always have.
Posted by scooter2486 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Nuclear powered cars?? yeah right
It would take a warehouse of paperwork to put in a nuclear power plant with 20 ft. thick concrete walls and they think we will have nuke cars in 10 years?

I quit reading there and I already know the people making that claim obviously have a financial interest in the attention gained from making it.

I think it takes 10 years just to get approval to put in a nuclear power plant. I think we should look at some of the emerging technologies, but I also think the idea that we would start with something portable and accident prone like automobiles is a very stupid idea.

Lets figure out how to use clean energy for the grid first then see where we can go from there.

It is a shame you had to start off such a potentially useful article by making such an irresponsible claim.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry :/
I should have continued reading, but my blood pressure spiked and my vision blurred in anger as soon as I finished "..venture firm Accel, predicts there will be nuclear powered cars on the streets of San Francisco in a decade."

Although I suppose the sensationalism was intended to get reader intention, it is a bit like saying "MySpace founder Tom expected to rape thousands females by 2016" and then elaborating later to say that he is only providing the technology used by others to do it.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Link Flag
Why not???
I know that there are government regulations that make the process so hard, but it's not impossible, especially if the government is the one that wants to pursue it. Look at nuclear power currently used in the military. Also, back in World War II when we, as a nation, worked in a mad frensy to develope the atomic bomb before anyone else. It certainly didn't take years of paperwork and regulation then did it? The US government just needs a little motivation and it'll do whatever the heck it wants to. Point being if another country, most likely China or Japan starts research for automobile nuclear production, you better believe the US will jump right on that band wagon as they always have.
Posted by scooter2486 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Pebble Bed Modular Reactor
People interested in this may want to check out some information on the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR). <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor</a>

Slashdot ran an article a while back where China was planning to construct one here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/08/184232" target="_newWindow">http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/08/184232</a>

Some claim it is a ""meltdown-proof" alternative to standard water-cooled nuclear power stations." and one of the largest breakthroughs in nuclear technology.

Additional info describing the technology can be found here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="https://www.pbmr.com/index.asp?Content=4" target="_newWindow">https://www.pbmr.com/index.asp?Content=4</a>

I would expect that after the first few PBMR are operational in South Africa, China, etc. that the US will not be far behind in adopting the technology.

Quite a bit will likely be learned from the construction and operation of the first few plants.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Indeed
Indeed, I have seen numerous articles, television shows on the history channel, etc. that all claim that nuclear technology has been developed to the point that those worries about meltdowns no longer need to be of concern. Apparently there are a couple different techs, including the pebble-bed setup that the parent was referring to, that can acheieve "meltdown-proof" nuclear reactions.
Posted by duerra (76 comments )
Link Flag
US based pebble bed projects
You might be interested in knowing that there are some US firms
that are working on pebble bed reactors. One is a branch of
PBMR Pty LTD, the South African firm, and it is also closely tied
to Westinghouse, a partner in the PBMR project.

I did an interview with Dr. Regis Matzie, the leader of that effort
for Westinghouse, about a year ago. You can find the article
about that interview here:

<a href="#">http://www.atomicinsights.com/
AI_06-07-05.html</a>

There is also a tiny, distributed start-up firm that has been
working on the technology in home offices in various locations
around the world since 1991. That company, <a href="#">Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.</a> has
been sharing information about its developments for nearly a
dozen years on the web.

Though the company essentially went to sleep when everyone in
the US utility market was busy predicting that natural gas would
remain cheap for decades, the design work continued at night
while the company principles got day jobs to pay the bills.

Sometimes patience pays off.

Rod Adams
Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.
Posted by Rod Adams (74 comments )
Link Flag
US based pebble bed projects
You might be interested in knowing that there are some US firms
that are working on pebble bed reactors. One is a branch of
PBMR Pty LTD, the South African firm, and it is also closely tied
to Westinghouse, a partner in the PBMR project.

I did an interview with Dr. Regis Matzie, the leader of that effort
for Westinghouse, about a year ago. You can find the article
about that interview here:

<a href="#">http://www.atomicinsights.com/
AI_06-07-05.html</a>

There is also a tiny, distributed start-up firm that has been
working on the technology in home offices in various locations
around the world since 1991. That company, <a href="#">Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.</a> has
been sharing information about its developments for nearly a
dozen years on the web.

Though the company essentially went to sleep when everyone in
the US utility market was busy predicting that natural gas would
remain cheap for decades, the design work continued at night
while the company principles got day jobs to pay the bills.

Sometimes patience pays off.

Rod Adams
Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.
Posted by Rod Adams (74 comments )
Link Flag
US based pebble bed projects
You might be interested in knowing that there are some US firms
that are working on pebble bed reactors. One is a branch of
PBMR Pty LTD, the South African firm, and it is also closely tied
to Westinghouse, a partner in the PBMR project.

I did an interview with Dr. Regis Matzie, the leader of that effort
for Westinghouse, about a year ago. You can find the article
about that interview here:

<a href="#">http://www.atomicinsights.com/
AI_06-07-05.html</a>

There is also a tiny, distributed start-up firm that has been
working on the technology in home offices in various locations
around the world since 1991. That company, <a href="#">Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.</a> has
been sharing information about its developments for nearly a
dozen years on the web.

Though the company essentially went to sleep when everyone in
the US utility market was busy predicting that natural gas would
remain cheap for decades, the design work continued at night
while the company principles got day jobs to pay the bills.

It looks like patience may someday pay off.

Rod Adams
Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.
Posted by Rod Adams (74 comments )
Link Flag
US based pebble bed projects
You might be interested in knowing that there are some US firms
that are working on pebble bed reactors. One is a branch of
PBMR Pty LTD, the South African firm, and it is also closely tied
to Westinghouse, a partner in the PBMR project.

I did an interview with Dr. Regis Matzie, the leader of that effort
for Westinghouse, about a year ago. You can find the article
about that interview here:

<a href="#">http://www.atomicinsights.com/
AI_06-07-05.html</a>

There is also a tiny, distributed start-up firm that has been
working on the technology in home offices in various locations
around the world since 1991. That company, <a href="#">Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.</a> has
been sharing information about its developments for nearly a
dozen years on the web.

Though the company essentially went to sleep when everyone in
the US utility market was busy predicting that natural gas would
remain cheap for decades, the design work continued at night
while the company principles got day jobs to pay the bills.

Sometimes patience pays off.

Rod Adams
Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.
Posted by Rod Adams (74 comments )
Link Flag
Pebble Bed Modular Reactor
People interested in this may want to check out some information on the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR). <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor</a>

Slashdot ran an article a while back where China was planning to construct one here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/08/184232" target="_newWindow">http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/02/08/184232</a>

Some claim it is a ""meltdown-proof" alternative to standard water-cooled nuclear power stations." and one of the largest breakthroughs in nuclear technology.

Additional info describing the technology can be found here: <a class="jive-link-external" href="https://www.pbmr.com/index.asp?Content=4" target="_newWindow">https://www.pbmr.com/index.asp?Content=4</a>

I would expect that after the first few PBMR are operational in South Africa, China, etc. that the US will not be far behind in adopting the technology.

Quite a bit will likely be learned from the construction and operation of the first few plants.
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Indeed
Indeed, I have seen numerous articles, television shows on the history channel, etc. that all claim that nuclear technology has been developed to the point that those worries about meltdowns no longer need to be of concern. Apparently there are a couple different techs, including the pebble-bed setup that the parent was referring to, that can acheieve "meltdown-proof" nuclear reactions.
Posted by duerra (76 comments )
Link Flag
US based pebble bed projects
You might be interested in knowing that there are some US firms
that are working on pebble bed reactors. One is a branch of
PBMR Pty LTD, the South African firm, and it is also closely tied
to Westinghouse, a partner in the PBMR project.

I did an interview with Dr. Regis Matzie, the leader of that effort
for Westinghouse, about a year ago. You can find the article
about that interview here:

<a href="#">http://www.atomicinsights.com/
AI_06-07-05.html</a>

There is also a tiny, distributed start-up firm that has been
working on the technology in home offices in various locations
around the world since 1991. That company, <a href="#">Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.</a> has
been sharing information about its developments for nearly a
dozen years on the web.

Though the company essentially went to sleep when everyone in
the US utility market was busy predicting that natural gas would
remain cheap for decades, the design work continued at night
while the company principles got day jobs to pay the bills.

Sometimes patience pays off.

Rod Adams
Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.
Posted by Rod Adams (74 comments )
Link Flag
US based pebble bed projects
You might be interested in knowing that there are some US firms
that are working on pebble bed reactors. One is a branch of
PBMR Pty LTD, the South African firm, and it is also closely tied
to Westinghouse, a partner in the PBMR project.

I did an interview with Dr. Regis Matzie, the leader of that effort
for Westinghouse, about a year ago. You can find the article
about that interview here:

<a href="#">http://www.atomicinsights.com/
AI_06-07-05.html</a>

There is also a tiny, distributed start-up firm that has been
working on the technology in home offices in various locations
around the world since 1991. That company, <a href="#">Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.</a> has
been sharing information about its developments for nearly a
dozen years on the web.

Though the company essentially went to sleep when everyone in
the US utility market was busy predicting that natural gas would
remain cheap for decades, the design work continued at night
while the company principles got day jobs to pay the bills.

Sometimes patience pays off.

Rod Adams
Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.
Posted by Rod Adams (74 comments )
Link Flag
US based pebble bed projects
You might be interested in knowing that there are some US firms
that are working on pebble bed reactors. One is a branch of
PBMR Pty LTD, the South African firm, and it is also closely tied
to Westinghouse, a partner in the PBMR project.

I did an interview with Dr. Regis Matzie, the leader of that effort
for Westinghouse, about a year ago. You can find the article
about that interview here:

<a href="#">http://www.atomicinsights.com/
AI_06-07-05.html</a>

There is also a tiny, distributed start-up firm that has been
working on the technology in home offices in various locations
around the world since 1991. That company, <a href="#">Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.</a> has
been sharing information about its developments for nearly a
dozen years on the web.

Though the company essentially went to sleep when everyone in
the US utility market was busy predicting that natural gas would
remain cheap for decades, the design work continued at night
while the company principles got day jobs to pay the bills.

It looks like patience may someday pay off.

Rod Adams
Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.
Posted by Rod Adams (74 comments )
Link Flag
US based pebble bed projects
You might be interested in knowing that there are some US firms
that are working on pebble bed reactors. One is a branch of
PBMR Pty LTD, the South African firm, and it is also closely tied
to Westinghouse, a partner in the PBMR project.

I did an interview with Dr. Regis Matzie, the leader of that effort
for Westinghouse, about a year ago. You can find the article
about that interview here:

<a href="#">http://www.atomicinsights.com/
AI_06-07-05.html</a>

There is also a tiny, distributed start-up firm that has been
working on the technology in home offices in various locations
around the world since 1991. That company, <a href="#">Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.</a> has
been sharing information about its developments for nearly a
dozen years on the web.

Though the company essentially went to sleep when everyone in
the US utility market was busy predicting that natural gas would
remain cheap for decades, the design work continued at night
while the company principles got day jobs to pay the bills.

Sometimes patience pays off.

Rod Adams
Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.
Posted by Rod Adams (74 comments )
Link Flag
New Reactors
I can't fathom a reason why they can't build giant "reactor farms" in remote areas where people aren't likely to ever live (like the Mojave desert in the west) and build secure storage facilities right on site. This would solve storage and trasportation problems associated wit the waste. Then pipe the power to the grid.

The problem with previous efforts was that they built nuke plants near large population centers. How dumb is that! Look at the East Coast..

This method would be more costly in some ways, but cheaper in others. It would certainly pay off by getting us less dependent on fossil fuels.
Posted by cidman2001 (223 comments )
Reply Link Flag
New Reactors
I can't fathom a reason why they can't build giant "reactor farms" in remote areas where people aren't likely to ever live (like the Mojave desert in the west) and build secure storage facilities right on site. This would solve storage and trasportation problems associated wit the waste. Then pipe the power to the grid.

The problem with previous efforts was that they built nuke plants near large population centers. How dumb is that! Look at the East Coast..

This method would be more costly in some ways, but cheaper in others. It would certainly pay off by getting us less dependent on fossil fuels.
Posted by cidman2001 (223 comments )
Reply Link Flag
reasonable
The problem with most global warming "advocates" is that they refuse to consider reasonable solutions to what they claim is a crisis of immediate and unprecedented proportions. This is the main reason why most of the public is highly skeptical of global warming. If the sky is falling, then you can't worry about windmills killing bats, dams making snail darters go extinct, solar furnaces destroying desert ecosystems, or nuclear waste poisoning our descendants in 1000 years. Is global warming a crisis, or not? Let's hear it for the ex-Greenpeace dude!

Meanwhile, I drive a dinky car, live only a few miles from work, don't fertilize or water or over-mow my lawn, don't keep a dog or cat, minimize business travel (esp. by air), and treat A/C as a luxury. None of this is terribly painful or bad for the economy, and will help the environment regardless of global warming.
Posted by dmm (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
Properly run reactors are definitely "GREEN" power. To many eco-sensitive types are unreasonably terrified by the word "nuclear".
Posted by PzkwVIb (462 comments )
Link Flag
reasonable
The problem with most global warming "advocates" is that they refuse to consider reasonable solutions to what they claim is a crisis of immediate and unprecedented proportions. This is the main reason why most of the public is highly skeptical of global warming. If the sky is falling, then you can't worry about windmills killing bats, dams making snail darters go extinct, solar furnaces destroying desert ecosystems, or nuclear waste poisoning our descendants in 1000 years. Is global warming a crisis, or not? Let's hear it for the ex-Greenpeace dude!

Meanwhile, I drive a dinky car, live only a few miles from work, don't fertilize or water or over-mow my lawn, don't keep a dog or cat, minimize business travel (esp. by air), and treat A/C as a luxury. None of this is terribly painful or bad for the economy, and will help the environment regardless of global warming.
Posted by dmm (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
Properly run reactors are definitely "GREEN" power. To many eco-sensitive types are unreasonably terrified by the word "nuclear".
Posted by PzkwVIb (462 comments )
Link Flag
What's the temperature?
"Patrick Moore, a Greenpeace founder, has founded GreenSpirit, an environmental group that supports nuclear power."

Hell has, indeed, frozen over! I never thought I would live to see the day when anyone associated with Greenpeace would take any sort of reasoned stance with regard to such an issue.
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What's the temperature?
"Patrick Moore, a Greenpeace founder, has founded GreenSpirit, an environmental group that supports nuclear power."

Hell has, indeed, frozen over! I never thought I would live to see the day when anyone associated with Greenpeace would take any sort of reasoned stance with regard to such an issue.
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Old research, still good
Back in the 80s and early 90s, Argonne National Laboratory did
quite a bit of experimental work on a reactor and fuel cycle that
attempted to address reactor safety, waste hazard reduction, fuel
use efficiency, and nonproliferation. This involved a real reactor
and a real fuel cycle facility. It was cancelled in 1994 but might still
be worth looking into. See the Wikipedia article, "Integral Fast
Reactor"
Posted by billmosby (536 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Old research, still good
Back in the 80s and early 90s, Argonne National Laboratory did
quite a bit of experimental work on a reactor and fuel cycle that
attempted to address reactor safety, waste hazard reduction, fuel
use efficiency, and nonproliferation. This involved a real reactor
and a real fuel cycle facility. It was cancelled in 1994 but might still
be worth looking into. See the Wikipedia article, "Integral Fast
Reactor"
Posted by billmosby (536 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Westinghouse AP 1000
Westinghouse has already developed an advanced, passively safe reactor. It has obtained Final Design Approval by the NRC and it's essentially ready to go.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ap1000.westinghousenuclear.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.ap1000.westinghousenuclear.com/</a>
Posted by gatornuke (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Westinghouse AP 1000
Westinghouse has already developed an advanced, passively safe reactor. It has obtained Final Design Approval by the NRC and it's essentially ready to go.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ap1000.westinghousenuclear.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.ap1000.westinghousenuclear.com/</a>
Posted by gatornuke (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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