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Comment: Re:Intermittancy (Score 1) 441

by brambus (#47348893) Attached to: Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year

You should calm down a bit and educate yourself on wind production stability a bit: http://www.gridwatch.templar.c...

The UK has better than 10GW of installed on-shore and off-shore wind over a geographical area >1000 km across and yet over the latter half of the month of June overall average production was

You trash engineers as too stupid when they tell you this is a serious unresolved problem, but then call on them to find a solution? Have you ever considered the possibility that the grid engineers have a bit more knowledge on the subject than you and so they understand the magnitude of the problems better? Of course not, because they're all in cahoots with "big coal" or whatever anti-corporatist conspiracy theory floats in the blogosphere this week.

Comment: Re:WTF? (Score 1) 365

by brambus (#47340143) Attached to: Germany's Glut of Electricity Causing Prices To Plummet
Unfortunately, paying somebody to take it off them is really the cheapest option. Grid scale storage systems simply do not exist. Pumped hydro is the closest (only ~25% process loss rate and ~$45 billion per GW in year-round baseload equivalent) and there simply isn't enough places to put them in Germany (at present they have 35 of them, they'd need >500 just to replace the remaining nuclear fleet, not to mention the fossil fuel plants, of which there is 4-5x as many). What's worse, most of the locations for pumped hydro is in the hilly south of Germany, whereas most of the wind resources are in the north, especially off the coast in off-shore wind, so they'll need to beef up their high-voltage transmission network (also add ~7-8% additional transport losses on top). By one estimate, it'll take an additional 100000 to 140000 miles of high-voltage lines to get to their 80% renewable target in 2050. At a cost of ~$1M/mile, that'll be another $100 billion - $140 billion on top of any storage capacity (the government budgets ~$50 billion for new lines through ~2030). Batteries are extremely expensive per Wh stored. If battery storage plants were being built, it wouldn't be shiny recyclable lithium-ion cells, which are expensive as heck (about 5-10x as much as pumped hydro), but the cheapest lead-acid crap you can find. Storage losses in batteries are somewhat lower (only about 5-10%), but their lifetime compared to pumped hydro (~10 years for batteries vs. >40 years for pumped hydro) make the capital expenses impact on ROI much worse. Hydrogen is unfortunately also a no-go. Small scale electrolysis can be up to 80% efficient, but it uses exotic metals on the electrodes and those are consumed over time via ion diffusion. Large scale electrolysis is much less efficient (maybe 50%) and even so nobody's demonstrated that it can be done on a grid level (there's no 500MW electrolysis plant anywhere). What's worse is storage. Hydrogen is extremely nasty stuff, liquid storage requires >1000 PSI (so it takes a lot of energy to compress - another significant efficiency decrease) and it's still about 12x less dense than water, so the tanks have to be HUGE. Metallic pipe embrittlement is a serious issue, as are unintended fires. Imagine a hydrogen storage plant catching fire. Hydrogen is extremely volatile and burns with an invisible flame - enjoy putting those out. The detonation speed is much higher than say butane-air so any detonation of a hydrogen-air mixture is much more destructive than, say, a natural gas explosion. Quite simply, common environmentally conscious people have been not been told the full truth about the scale of the problem by the media and it's no wonder - this is complicated stuff.

Comment: Re:WTF? (Score 3, Informative) 365

by brambus (#47339657) Attached to: Germany's Glut of Electricity Causing Prices To Plummet
I'm afraid it's a bit more complicated than that. The EEG is currently running a dangerous experiment with a highly questionable outcome with the German electricity grid and economy. The EEG guarantees renewables a feed in tariff for the next 20 years to make them appear to be ultimately profitable and forces grid operators to take the electricity regardless of the spot price on the market. Grid operators must then direct traditional plant operators to either throttle or even shut down to keep the grid stable. This is a problem for plant operators, because power plants are forced to operate fewer hours of days (prolonging amortization and ROI on the plants) and are forced to operate less efficiently (you know what it takes to restart a brown coal plant?). And what if at some point the grid operators get too much energy from renewables? More than they need or can handle? Well, they transport or even sell it abroad to the Netherlands, Poland and the Czech republic, often at negative prices, meaning, Germany pays for the others to take it. But if you remember, they were forced to purchase the energy at the renewable plant operator (solar or wind) at a guaranteed feed-in tariff, so who's paying for the difference? Partly the taxpayer and partly the grid operator, which is also one of the a reasons why their profit margins are thinning. Sooner or later this mix will blow up into German's faces, but unfortunately, the political elite is in denial, the media fuels an anti-corporatist frenzy and common people who don't know much about how electricity generation, distribution and marketing work such as yourself are simply taken along for the ride on the lie train. And unfortunately, there is no practical solution in sight.

Comment: Re:Better headline... (Score 2) 174

by brambus (#47098099) Attached to: Organic Cat Litter May Have Caused Nuclear Waste Accident
It was "hot" in a chemical, not radioactive sense. From James Conoca's article on the subject:

Beginning over 30 years ago, activities involving separating americium (Am) from old weapons materials generated a moderate amount of transuranic waste contaminated with americium (Am), plutonium, uranium and minor amounts of other radionuclides, and containing various metal-nitrate salts (strong oxidizers), such as (Mg,Ca)(NO3)2 with minor amounts of Fe, Na and K. When dewatered, these hot evaporator bottoms were poured onto a tray, vacuum dried, flashed crystallized, rinsed with cold water and put in bags, where they sat for 30 years.


It was recommended sometime later that inorganic kitty litter made from silicate minerals be added as a sorbent (widely used in radiochemistry as well as the home litter box), but also to dissipate heat and generally mitigate auto-oxidation reactions of the kind we think occurred in these drums in WIPP. Anhydrous citric acid (a reducer) was used to bring the pH down if over-adjusted.

For reasons perhaps related to good intentions, or merely related to dust generation, the inorganic kitty litter was replaced by organic wheat-based litter early on in the process. There were a few other components of not much import in the drums, but additional organic components just added more fuel.

Some decisions regarding these additives are vague and not attributable to a real chemist.

So it seems it was a case of a well meaning idiot making stupid decisions.

Comment: Re:Better headline... (Score 5, Informative) 174

by brambus (#47095513) Attached to: Organic Cat Litter May Have Caused Nuclear Waste Accident
First off, this is from the weapons program, not power. Also, not all waste is created equal. Drums are only used for low level stuff - think lab coats, glassware, tools, etc. that at some point might have come into contact with radioactive stuff and so can have trace residue on it. This is *NOT* spent fuel. If you had cared to read the original articles, you'd know that the incident was the first in this facility's 15 year history, wasn't their fault, was extremely small, was immediately contained and rootcaused so that corrective measures could be taken. From where I'm standing, this is a good example of safety working as intended. Unlike your average coal ash spill.

Comment: What cute little car (Score 1) 262

by brambus (#47064795) Attached to: The Brakes That Stop a 1,000 MPH Bloodhound SSC
From TFA:

While most of the retardation will be done by air brakes and parachutes, a set of car-like disc brakes still have to haul it down from 160 mph to a standstill on the slippery earth of South Africa's Kaksken Pan. At that speed, the car's steel wheels will still be spinning at 10,000 rpm.

If at 160 mph the wheels are spinning at 10,000 rpm, then it means that the wheel are about 14 cm in diameter, which, looking at the Bloodhound SSC side on ( means that the car's body is about 30cm tall. Truly a marvel of miniaturization, including the driver! In related news, motoring journalists still suck at delivering factual information to the public.

Comment: Re:Lets just keep on trying... (Score 1) 568

The sicence behind Global Warming is so fake

If it's so fake, why do you think it is that the vast majority of climatologists (you know, scientists who actually study the climate) are in agreement that climate change is happening and that it's caused by our actions? A vast global conspiracy across thousands of researchers in hundreds of universities and research institutions with no financial, cultural or organizational commonalities? If you think that, then you've got your tinfoil screwed on a little too tight.

If we REALLY wanted to clean up the environment we would agressive upgrade our energy production facilities like we do with our PC's.

Fully agree, but it's a little more difficult than with computers - large scale industrial processes aren't so easily modified due to the complexities and the expense involved, not to mention the physical difficulties in achieving quantum leaps in technology other than semiconductors. Here's a hint: you're not the smartest person on the planet, so you can rest assured that other, smarter people have already thought about. Why do you think things aren't moving along as quickly as you think them possible, despite smarter people being on the forefront of them? Do you think it's possible that these much smarter people see a little deeper than you into these areas and have good reasons why they don't think it's as easy?

Thorium Nuclear power would be a good place to start.

Thorium is great, but it's still got tons of unresolved issues. Reactor designs need to be developed, certified and tested. The reprocessing and refueling chemistry is still largely theoretical and untested. These are not minor issues, but large projects that will take years, if not decades to resolve and perfect.

Chemical Fusion

What's chemical fusion? Chemistry deals with molecules and electron-electron interactions.

Low Energy Fusion would be another nice place to start.

Would be, albeit nobody has found a way to demonstrate it. LENR and "cold fusion" are scams.

We have tons of energy solutions for personal cars/transport and mass transit. We are refusing to do these things because it disrupts the power structures, all of them political.

Like which ones? Hydrogen fuel cells? LiOn batteries? All of those have serious scaling, performance and cost issues (though BEVs are slowly improving).

There world seems to be stuck in a rule by Oligarchs

Ok, un-tighten your tinfoil hat again. Learn about the physics in these areas first - these are NOT easy problems.

Comment: The Internet: Where Religions Come To Die (Score 4, Insightful) 1037

by brambus (#46674745) Attached to: How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion
Great video by a Youtuber on exactly this topic: The Internet: Where Religions Come To Die. Religions simply can't survive on the open marketplace of ideas. Religions work by indoctrination, shaming and isolating subjects to get them to believe absurd shit and then try to shield them from outside influences to make sure they don't find out. On the Internet, this ploy simply doesn't work.

Comment: Re:My Advice to Tesla (Score 1) 329

by brambus (#46251347) Attached to: Tesla Model S Caught Fire While Parked and Unplugged

[Elon Musk] is a narcissistic douche

You mean the guy who spent all of his $150 mil goldmine out of the PayPal acquisition on starting two very risky businesses with high probability of failure - a revolutionary rocket and car business - that actually advanced the state of the art in both fields and influenced the way the public views technological advancement for the better. You call *that* guy a "narcissistic douche"? My response.

Comment: Re:Arithmetic denialism (Score 1) 734

Except that only works while there's a fairly small amount of solar on the grid and the government is meddling in the market by imposing regulation such as giving hard preference to solar at the expense of other operators. At higher proportions things stop looking so rosy (recommend you read this nice paper on the real costs associated with intermittency - the reason you're not seeing them in your bill is because of government forcing the price offset onto other users, in effect subsidizing you while taxing others).

Comment: Re:Arithmetic denialism (Score 1) 734

by brambus (#46051283) Attached to: Will Electric Cars and Solar Power Make Gasoline and Utilities Obsolete?
Meanwhile, in reality, you ignored the following tiny caveats:
* the average price of a 16kW solar PV rig will be around $72480
* 1/10 of that will buy you around 1812 gallons of gas (at $4/gallon)
* a good, fuel-efficient gasoline car with around 50 mpg will drive approximately 90600 miles on that
* at the average of 15000 miles driven per year this will last you around 6 years
* 72 months is easily above the average amount of time that owners hold on to cars (somewhere around 60 months)
Oh and lest we forget, during the day, when your solar rig is producing the most power, is also when you're most like to be out with your car, i.e. not charging it. This effect will be least problematic during the summer (longest day, lowest energy consumption by car), and most problematic during the winter (highest energy consumption by car, and a day most probably too short to get any sunlight on the panels while the car's in the driveway).

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.