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Comment Re:Cultural? (Score 1) 464

Emissions isn't their problem. It's the Mechanical Engineer's problem.

Actually, emissions are their problems as well. Consider that the emissions can be fixed by pure software changes. Much of the physical operation of the engine, specifically tuning for power, emissions, and fuel economy are done by the ECU, a computer running software.

In a gasoline engine, how much fuel do you feed to the air? When do you trigger the spark plugs, at what advance? In a diesel, when do you inject the fuel, and how much? Etc...

In modern cars, the software and mechanical engineers have to work closely together.

Comment I'd trust them a touch further (Score 1) 202

Fact of the matter is, providing comprehensive insurance as part of the package for buying a new car is actually a thing over in Europe. They're generally economy shitboxes that a person could probably stop with a hard shove, but a lot of new/bad drivers end up buying said new cars because it's the cheapest option - over even buying a used one because the insurance costs are so high otherwise.

Liability for a new driver overwhelms the expense of everything else. If the self-driving cars have half the *average* accident rate, it'll be an OOM better than the 'new driver' accident rate. So self-insuring will be quite affordable even without playing games.

After that, consider that once a person is used to using a self-driving car that it'll be like automatic transmissions in the USA. They'll tend to stick with self-driving. Successful upsale!

Comment Self-Insured (Score 1) 202

Lawyers will probably be lining up for contingency fees to go after the corp.

Assuming that Volvo does the 'smart' thing and retains an insurance company to act as a *processor* for claims, they might not be so ready to line up. Volvo would be able to show, in most cases at least, that a reasonable payment offer was extended. This tends to limit punitive damages, which is where they can really make their money.

At least until Volvo has enough self-driving cars to justify having their own claims office and people.

Comment Re:Your Friend's Job (Score 1) 202

How long will your friend have a job if insurance companies only have to deal with a few car companies?

Given that he's a claims adjuster and not a salesman, his job should be fairly secure - he might have to scale back from 40 hours to 30 hours.

Remember, he's not just adjusting claims for on road accidents, but things like windshield repairs, vandalism, theft, etc...

For that matter, you might end up with an interesting split - liability is taken by Volvo for any damage caused by the car, including something like hitting a tree. It's still a good idea for the driver to pick up:
Under/Uninsured Motorist, theft, non-moving accident, etc... IE the rest of the 'comprehensive' package.

Then again, you might end up with Volvo being a bit like GM once was - before it's bankruptcy GM had essentially turned into a loan company than happened to sell cars.

BTW, car makers/car dealers offering insurance coverage on the sale of new cars is not a new thing over in Europe. It's quite common for a young adult's first car to be a brand new econo-shitbox because the provided coverage makes it cheaper than anything else.

Comment Re:We already use the hydro places. Also slush fun (Score 1) 415

That still leaves a related question - why does US discussion of renewable energy focus on solar-electric 99% of the time, despite the fact that solar-electric is approximately the least efficient possible solution in most cases?

Personally, I'd go with "freedom" and "individuality". Solar panels are the green energy solution that can realistically be installed by the most people.

Take the power source in the op article. Wind. Wind turbines scale up well, down not so much. In order to be economical, you want to install a HUGE one. For solar panels you can pretty much start with 1 panel if you wanted, and it wouldn't even be that much more expensive per watt than 10 with modern micro-inverters. With wind you're looking at the cheapest cost per watt being a huge turbine reaching up over 100 feet and producing enough power for a dozen homes.

Fifteen gallons of hot water is plenty enough for a shower. Black pipe outside that's 8 feet long and 6" ID will provide that, no problem (at least in the southern half of the country, and northern summers). That costs $20.

You haven't priced out pipe lately, have you? 10' of 6" PVC runs $50, getting black CPVC(good for hot potable water) will be more expensive.

8' isn't really a standard length.

So why are we promoting having an electric water heater plugged into an inverter, which is connected to a big bank of batteries full of hazardous chemicals, which are connected to a charge controller, which is in turn connected to a bunch of solar-electric panels? Seriously WTF?

We aren't, that's your thing. A more common setup will be solar panels running a heat pump to cool the home, complete with a desuperheater, such that rather than exhaust all the heat outside, some ends up in a hot water tank. After that, you also have the option of a 'heat pump' type water heater that can pull heat in from the house.

Another thing to realize is that substantial numbers of people are also hooked up into natural gas and propane systems - so their hot water/heat is via that, not electricity. Heck, the only electricity I need for heat is to run the controls - my heat is oil(because I live so far north that propane might liquify...).

Reasonable, effective, efficient uses of solar, such as solar heating, don't get talked about because there's no billion-dollar grant program for that.

You can get a tax credit for installing a solar heating system just as easily as a solar electric. It's just that everything about heating is cheaper than electricity.

Comment Re:Not the total cost! (Score 1) 415

Speaking of renewables in the U.S. why is hydro never mentioned when discussing renewables?!

The problem with hydro is that it's tapped. Between domestic, industrial, and agricultural use, there's less water available than before. Due to environmentalism, dams are harder to place than ever. All the 'easy' spots have already been tapped.

The net result is that while hydro used to be just over 20% of our electric energy production, it's declined to about 17%, not because capacity has dropped, but because we've grown and it hasn't. Sort of like with nuclear plants, some extra power can be obtained by installing more efficient turbine systems and other efficiency improvements, but by and large, it's tapped.

In my standard non-carbon power mix, I put things at about 40% nuclear, 20% solar, 20% wind, and 20% 'other' including hydro. Which means that, realistically speaking, only 3-5% would be provided by things like geothermal, because hydro would make up the majority of the last 20%.

Comment Re:Show us the data (Score 1) 415

The TSA on the other should be laughed at when they request we spend $180 million to save a single life, when no one else thinks it is worth $10 million.

You make a good point here. Yes, this is where I was picturing the money to come from to help boost NHTSA's budget so that it starts valuing human life at more than half a million, which would save more lives than the TSA's expensive security theater. Every 200 million you pull out of the TSA should cost ~1 life, but put it into the NHTSA and you should save ~350.

Comment Re:Show us the data (Score 2) 415

Yes. This is primarily what is hurting the older technologies that have fixed costs, but also fuel costs. When the price of power drops the fossil fuel generators shut down as they are no longer economically viable, but their fixed costs still accumulate.

Actually, this tends to mean that power plants keep operating while overall financially nonviable because the price of power is above the marginal cost for the fossil plant to produce it, but below the fixed costs even at full output.

IE power might be selling for $0.10 per kWh, the marginal cost is $0.05 to produce, but they'd actually need $0.12 per kWh to break even on the fixed costs...

Comment Re:Show us the data (Score 1) 415

Interesting information. It can help explain why some actions are 'crazy' restrictive and others aren't. I do note that it's easier for the EPA to value human life high - they aren't the ones having to pay to fix the problems deemed necessary by their valuation. The NHTSA is much more likely to have to shell out.

For others - keep in mind that there are costs involved with valuing a human life higher, as well as valuing it 'too low'. For example, if the EPA valued human life at what the NHTSA uses, they wouldn't mandate as much in the way of pollution controls, and many things would be somewhat cheaper. For example, new cars might be $1k cheaper due to fewer pollution controls. On the other hand, because the NHTSA values life so low, dangerous road conditions tend to not be fixed as quickly, leading to more fatal car accidents.

Some other valuations:
FAA: $6M
DOT: $6M
OHSA: $250k, at least for asbestos.
Another figure commonly seen is $5M

I agree with you; it's probably better to make these valuations consistent than it is to worry about the exact dollar amount. The difference between 5 and 6 million dollars is probably minor even if it is a 20% difference.

Meanwhile, it might be a good idea to tell the EPA to back off a touch, while diverting funds into the NHTSA if it's determined that the reason why they value a life so low is because they don't have the funding available to address concerns that would be an issue if they valued it higher. IE they can address the problems that cost $550k per life saved, but they run out of budget before they hit $600k.

Comment Re:Fukushima factoid - Thorium and Thallium (Score 1) 139

It's the gamma radiation that makes it less of a proliferation risk. Can't have detonators around that.

As for the radioactivity, yes, it's highly radioactive, but properly processed the waste is in said highly radioactive state for a substantially shorter period of time. Basically, it'll reach background levels in a period shorter than human civilization, not longer.

I'm fine with going with IFR, but I'm not sure what you mean by 'loose energy' (lose energy) for mining and processing Thorium - Thorium is currently a byproduct of rare earth mining and refining; currently they're avoiding some of the richest Thorium ore because there's no demand for thorium, thus it's expensive to handle the ore.

Start up a few thorium reactors such that there's a commercial demand for the metal, and it'll get mined along with the other stuff. One thing I've learned is that a 'pure' mine is actually pretty rare. Copper and gold mines also tend to produce silver. Rare earths are usually mixed. Etc...

Comment Re:Fukushima factoid - Design (Score 1) 139

Well the AP1000 is the only approved design and my understanding of that design doesn't lead me to that conclusion. Safer reactor designs are already available, the features aren't implemented in AP-1000 because they are too expensive so the AP-1000's design still falls short. For accident mitigation the EPR design is better. Briefly the buildings that service the reactor are split into four (main) operational divisions (and the reactor containment). An accident, failure or maintenance in the other areas can be mitigated by the other divisions. It's planning, and being prepared for, problems.

You know, it's odd, I searched my posts multiple times and didn't find the AP1000 listed? I didn't even mention GenIII.
First: I was pretty much talking globally in my posts, thus the NRC could be considered a 'local' issue.
Second: More designs can gain approval.

AP1000 vs EPR: Per wiki the AP1000 has a core damage frequency of 5.09e-7 per plant years, EPR is rated at 6.1e-7 per plant year. So by that metric they're both neck and neck (e-7), with the AP1000 having a slight lead over the EPR. The EPR is about 50% more powerful though, so on a per kWh basis it's a touch safer, as you'd need 3 APs to replace 2 EPR. You're still very close though.

For example, Yankee Rowe, was a controlled shutdown of a functioning reactor. It cost half a billion dollars to clean-up and it was only 137 Megawatts, less than a quarter of the size of TMI-2.

The problem here is that you're assuming a linear relationship between clean-up costs and reactor power size. Personally, I figure that the cost has an extremely large static component - IE the relationship is not linear, and should be cheaper per MW the larger the reactor.

Basically, just getting set up to handle the cleanup is more expensive than actually doing it, especially for a smaller plant.

NRC guidelines permit the venting of radioactive effluents into the environment every two weeks Firethorn. There is no evidence that the AP-1000 series improves on that.

Citation? Hell, citation that plants routinely vent radioactive materials into the environment outside of emergency circumstances!

Actually it is specifically the Thermal Containment ratio, which refers to how much concrete is in the dome, is higher in TMI than other NPP concrete domes.

My point was that even a normal dome will still tank an aircraft.

AP-1000 is a rehash of the Standard Westinghouse Nuclear Utility Power Plant (SNUPPs) examples of which are installed at Wolf Creek [] and Callaway,

This is a bit like comparing a 4 stroke 4 cylinder from the '80s to a modern 4 stroke. Sure, there may be broad similarities, but there's also refinements in pretty much every aspect.

I'm afraid that I have to go - I've re-entered college to upgrade my degree and have to get to class. I need to get some other work done, so I'm afraid that I'm going to take a while to respond to your other posts, as well and being unable to go quite as deep into the research as I'd like.

Personally, rather than going 'greenfield', I'd prefer to do an immediate reconstruction in most areas - remove the old reactor, and put a new plant down in it's place, whether that be an AP1000, EPR*, or one of the other dozen approved GenIII designs out there. AP1k might be the only one in production, but it's not the only one approved.

*EPR might not be approved in the USA, but getting it so shouldn't be a huge regulatory hurdle, relatively speaking, especially if it's as safe as you say.

Comment Re:Fukushima factoid (Score 1) 139

First you are talking about GenIII's and AP-1000, then you are saying thorium reactors, then you talk of reprocessing.

That's because there's different issues at play. I'm not a 'one true power' believer, so in a non-hydrocarbon fueled world, my benchmark is around 40% nuclear, 20% solar, 20% wind, and 20% 'everything else'.

I'm also not a 'one true' believer in the 'solution' for nuclear power. IE there's space for GenIII reactors such as the AP1000 to run alongside reactors that are more theoretical at this point, providing incentive to recycle current nuclear waste.

The breaks between quotes are there for a reason, each section is in response to a specific section of your post.

As for 'deadly to our genome', that's actually very common. There's plenty of chemical hazards out there.

To summarize: I'd like to see a number of GenIII(minimum) plants produced, in sufficient quantity such that they aren't all effectively prototype plants, but can share developmental knowledge in order to reduce expenses. Along with that, I'd also like to see a GenIV plant developed and deployed, but realistically we'd be looking to break ground for one of them around the time we have most of the GenIII's powered up, enabling us to shut down most of the coal and oldest nuclear plants. I happen to like the promise of the molten salt reactor, given that the thing can't suffer a meltdown because that's it's normal operating mode. This enables higher temperatures, with a real-world efficiency of slightly over 50% possible. This would shrink the size necessary for the thermal reactor, so it could be placed in smaller areas, and combined with higher efficiency, the waste heat could be used industrially, or for district heating.

Uncertain fortune is thoroughly mastered by the equity of the calculation. - Blaise Pascal