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Comment Re:Not Enough (Score 1) 147

Near as I could figure it, Fraunhofer doesn't do coal, they only offer renewables (solar and wind) so it's not relevant. Here's a result from Google showing in chart form the last ten years or so of German electricity production (2005 - 2014):

Over the ten year period shown in the first chart non-carbon-emitting green nuclear production is down, renewable production is up and CO2-emitting coal and lignite production is not changing very much. The lowest production was in 2008 and 2009 during a world-wide recession.

As I said before, the non-carbon nuclear supply (currently about 95 TWh) is going away totally by government diktat in 2023. The projected increase in renewables will probably cover that loss in generating capacity (although renewables aren't a good replacement for baseload generation without lots of expensive storage or backstop fossil-carbon gas CCGT) but it means Germany will be still burning lignite in ten years time at the same rate it does today to keep the lights on. It's either that or freeze in the dark.

Comment Re:Not Enough (Score 2) 147

There is zero evidence that Germany plans to abandon burning lignite any time this century, never mind 2040 or 2060. There have been lots of fanciful announcements about renewables taking over and the end of fossil CO2 emissions but the facts don't agree. Ten years ago Germany generated about 40% of its electricity from coal and lignite, about 290 TWhrs. In 2015 it generated about 40% of its electricity from coal and lignite, about 270 TWhrs. The increase in renewables generation over that period has been balanced by a reduction in nuclear non-carbon baseload generation, from about 25% to 15%. That 15% is going away totally by 2023 when the last nuclear power station will be closed by government order. Either the Germans spend a lot more on building out their renewable fleet, improving their grid to handle the fluctuating supply, add large amounts of storage and start replacing their first-generation wind turbines and solar installations which are reaching end-of-life, or they burn more lignite. My bet is on the latter.

Comment Re:Not Enough (Score 2) 147

Germany has no intention of eliminating fossil fuel burning in the near or even the far future. At the moment they generate 40% of their electricity demand from coal and lignite. They *hope* to have reduced their coal and lignite consumption by 2050 but it's a big industry and employer, and they have billions of tonnes of extractable lignite resources within their own borders so it's not going to disappear completely. They have legislated the shutdown of their non-fossil nuclear power plants by 2023 and that means they will have to find another 15% or so of replacement generating capacity when that happens. A lot of that coming shortfall could be covered by burning more coal.

Comment Re:What Hollande says (Score 1) 328

So, for the US, reprocessing must not be economical or it would be happening already.

Freshly-mined uranium is cheap and plentiful and a once-through cycle of mining, enrichment and consumption is less expensive than fuel derived from current spent fuel reprocessing systems, in part because they are based on military-style weapons-grade plutonium production (the PUREX process) since that was the first method developed to deal with spent fuel. There is some research going on into lower-cost and simpler spent fuel reprocessing but it's not a priority given the low cost of fresh uranium and yellowcake production at the moment.

France and other nations such as Russia, Britain and Japan reprocess spent fuel for other reasons -- it vastly reduces the volume of material needing to be stored for long periods of time, for one thing. The Russians are working on advanced fuel cycles to burn spent fuel in fast reactors like the BN-800. Japanese have a breakout capability to make nuclear weapons if they decide to -- The Monju breeder, the reprocessing plant at Rokkaisho and they even have the small Epsilon orbital launcher to repurpose as an ICBM if they choose.

Comment Re: it estimates will be worth 250 billion euros (Score 1) 68

Accuracy per se isn't the real advantage of adding Galileo to the existing Navstar and Glonass global positioning satellite networks since better fix data is more dependent on correction overlay services like WAAS in the US and EGNOS in Europe, using fixed ground stations to provide extra accuracy information to GPS receivers allowing, for example, safe automatic landing of aircraft and shipping movements through restricted waters.

The main benefit of having a lot more GPS satellites in orbit is in places such as cities and mountainous regions where the skyview is restricted and it is possible to lose simultaneous line-of-sight to the four satellites required for a correct position/altitude/velocity result. More satellites means fewer blackouts for a given receiver in such situations.

Submission + - ESA launches four Galileo satellites (

nojayuk writes: From the ESA website: An Ariane 5 rocket has launched four additional Galileo satellites, accelerating deployment of the new satellite navigation system. The Ariane 5, operated by Arianespace, lifted off from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana at 13:06 GMT (14:06 CET, 10:06 local time) carrying Galileo satellites 15–18. The first pair was released 3 hours 35 minutes and 44 seconds after liftoff, while the second separated 20 minutes later. The Galileos are at their target altitude, after a flawless release from the new dispenser designed to handle four satellites.

This was the first flight of a heavy-lift ES-variant of the Ariane V since the ATV resupply missions to the ISS. Previously Galileo satellites have been launched in pairs by Soyuz-Fregat craft from French Guiana. Two additional Ariane 5 launches each carrying four Galileo satellites are scheduled in 2017 and 2018. The full system of 24 satellites plus spares is expected to be in place by 2020.

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 1) 107

Technically, a uranium tamper is still fissioned with fast neutron flux

Not quite. Uranium-238, the main component of depleted and also naturally occurring uranium doesn't fission. It WILL breed up into Pu-239 through neutron capture via an intermediate product and that will fission and produce energy if hit by neutrons.

Natural uranium has about 0.6% U-235 which will fission so it's a better tamper than depleted uranium which is usually about 0.2%-0.3% or so, providing more bang for your buck as it only takes one neutron to cause an atom of U-235 to fission whereas the U-238->Pu-239 breeding and fission process requires two neutrons. This all has to happen in a short period of time, too before the expanding bubble of fissionable material gets too large.

Comment Re:Wake up call - Jobs is dead (Score 1) 299

Jobs hated holes in his Precious. There are few holes in the current generation of Apple hardware. Jobs adored slim, the new laptops and phones are slimmer than ever. The legacy is being carried on all too well, with a dead man at the helm.

Comment Re:So... (Score 1) 156

ESA have already put two space observatories, the Herschel infrared telescope and the Planck cosmic microwave background telescope into the L2 location. The JWT is being launched and deployed by ESA so it's not an absolute first for them.

ESA is paying for the launch and that entitles European scientists access to the instrument and data collected by it.

Comment Re:Good, then we can scrap that stupid f-35 (Score 0) 325

And those forward operating bases need to be protected from enemy raids so adding hundreds of troops, vehicles, fuel, logistics etc. to the front lines. The backfield bases operating planes like the F-15SE are usually already in place in friendly territory or on carriers and they can do the same job or better than the A-10 without the frontline logistical load.

Basically the A-10 is an older weapons system in a world which has moved forward. The F-35 is a sniper picking off targets from beyond light AA range (MANPADs, heavy machine guns and rapid-fire cannon) while the A-10 conducts hand-to-hand combat with the enemy if it tries to use its Big Stupid Gun. It's not like it can fly without the BSG either, the entire airframe is built around it. Other aircraft can carry guns with similar capabilities in terms of rate of fire in conformal packs or underwing if the mission requires it but they don't HAVE to cart them around if they're not needed.

The A-10 is stiffy-inducing like battleships. They're obsolete like battleships and a waste of manpower and effort like battleships. There are folks who think battleships should be in the armoury today, for no real reason other than the stiffy they induce. The A-10 is a flying battleship, basically.

Comment Re:Good, then we can scrap that stupid f-35 (Score 1) 325

They were built cheap to be flown by ANG pilots over West Germany to get shot down by self-propelled AA guns and short-range missiles deployed with Soviet spearpoint armour brigades. The Big Stupid Gun was designed to chew up personnel carriers and trucks and other targets of opportunity and maybe damage/kill tanks but to use it the pilot had to get within a kilometre or so of the opposition and then fly straight toward them, not a good thing to do against anyone who can shoot back en masse. Times have changed and now there are better CAS weapons in the toolchest -- Maverick, Brimstone etc. which can do this kind of work from tens of kilometres out from any short-range defensive weapon systems that can knock down an attacking aircraft. They need to be deployed by smart platforms like the F-35 although older-generation aircraft like the F-16 can act as ammo mules for them with the F-35's instrumentation and C3 capabilities taking over after launch. The A-10 is too dumb in terms of battlefield networking to be of much use even in this role and besides the single pilot is busy flying the aircraft.

As for fast WWII strike aircraft, the Mosquito and the Typhoon were in the same speed range as the A-10. The F-35, F-15SE and F-18 can be on station in half the time it takes to get an A-10 into position to do some good.

The A-10 needs a full-length runway to operate from unlike the carrier-based F-18 and the F-35. That means several kilometres of airfield perimeter to protect from raids by enemy forces which means lots of troops, logistics etc. A fast CAS/strike aircraft can operate from bases in safe ground far from the enemy and still get to operational areas in time to do some good if needed.

Comment Re:Good, then we can scrap that stupid f-35 (Score 3, Informative) 325

The A-10 isn't in production, the last airframe came off the production line in 1984, over thirty years ago.

There's a porky programme ongoing for Boeing to re-wing some of them since they're falling apart, having been built cheaply to fly and die over the West German countryside against Soviet armour and air defences in an all-out war. Luckily they've not had to face a real air defence network for the past ten years or so but even against the Iraqis severely degraded systems a bunch of them were lost in 2003.

A-10s are not actually very effective in the CAS role, being a single-seater where the pilot has to fly the plane in rough air close to the ground while also identifying targets and delivering fire. The number of blue-on-blue incidents listed against A-10s reflects this time-management problem. They also have to come within reach of ground-based anti-artillery guns to use their Big Stupid Gun rather than standing off and killing the enemy with ranged weapons. Before anyone points out how rugged they are ("titanium bathtub!") remember that significant damage is a mission kill, they have to get out if they get chewed up and leave the ground-pounders to their own devices.

A-10s are surprisingly slow (slower than some WWII strike/CAS piston-engined aircraft!) which means they have to operate from full-sized air bases close to the front line to provide a quick-response CAS capability which in turn require defence from attacks, supply, logistics etc. Any of the really capable CAS aircraft existing today and the future F-35 have speed and range on their side as well as carrier capability which is less logistically intensive. They aren't also sitting ducks in case they operate against anything more dangerous than Bushmen with spears.

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