Co-Located Power Stations
Gyr Ater, Ph.D.

Abstract

Efficiency is improved by locating conventional power stations near wind farms.
Nuclear power plants are efficient, and can help reduce global slowing.
Nuclear fuel preparation reduces background radiation.
Coal-fired power plants can replenish lost radionuclides.
Wind turbines can distribute coal radionuclides.

 

Reversible Wind Turbines

In an earlier paper, Windmills: Curse or Cure? we discussed possibilities of reducing, and even reversing global slowing by using excess electrical energy to drive wind turbines during periods of off-peak demand.  The purpose of this is to restore vital kinetic energy lost from our abused atmosphere when the wind turbines generate electricity in their energy-sucking mode, purloining vital wind energy.  We must prevent stagnation of our planet!

 

Co-Location

In the interests of efficiency, we should locate conventional power plants in the near vicinity of all large wind-turbine farms, thus reducing costs and inefficiencies involved with transmitting electrical power over long distances.

 

Nuclear Power Advantages

Although there are many kinds of conventional power plants which could be co-located with wind farms, ordinary nuclear-fission plants have several important advantages.  Compared to fossil-fuel plants, nuclear plants require much less fuel, are simpler to operate, and they emit almost no side-stream products needing to be handled with auxiliary processing equipment.

Other than electricity, the main output of a nuclear power station is a small amount of low-level waste heat, recovered when the low-pressure steam exiting from the generating turbines is condensed to water, prior to its being reheated and reused for another pass through the turbines.  Most typically, that waste heat is delivered to the atmosphere through Evaporative Cooling Towers.

The characteristic shape of those Cooling Towers is firmly implanted in the public's mind as a signature of Nuclear Power Generation.

 

Cooling Tower Design

At the Global Slowing Research Laboratories, we pioneered the use of Reversible Wind Turbines to help replace atmospheric kinetic energy lost during peak periods of wind-power generation.  We continue to examine additional techniques deemed promising for the same use.

Conventional Nuclear Power generating plants use a few large Cooling Towers, all of which exhaust vertically.  These towers add some thermal energy to the atmosphere in their immediate vicinity, but virtually no kinetic energy.  We have begun test operations on a Cooling Tower of modified design, intended to greatly increase the horizontal thrust component of its output, directed so as to help counteract global slowing.

Early measurements on this prototype Nuclear Cooling Tower, pictured below, show promising results, particularly because operators of Nuclear Generation equipment tend to run those stations at a relatively constant, and relatively high level of output to help meet base-load demand efficiently.

Our experimental Cooling Tower is mounted on a rigid base, but we anticipate that future designs will investigate potential benefits from placing the entire assembly on a rotating turntable, allowing for directional adjustments.  Calculations suggest that a steerable-exhaust capability could enhance our modified Cooling Tower even further.

Figure 1.  Global Slowing Labs Research Cooling Tower.

 

Nuclear Power Challenges

All life on Earth developed in the presence of ionizing radiation from natural sources.  The only type of Cosmic Radiation known to have an adverse effect on human life is our Sun's Ultra-Violet, non-ionizing radiation, which causes millions of cases of skin cancer every year.

At Global Slowing Laboratories, we do not wish to understate the health problems associated with that non-ionizing radiation, but we believe its study is already in the hands of many other capable researchers throughout the world.  In this paper, we choose to focus upon the ionizing forms of radiation bathing our natural environment.

Three main sources contribute to this gentle background stimulation all living things enjoy on our planet.

(1)  Solar Radiation

As the nearest star, our Sun emits important amounts of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.  Non-ionizing radiation is in the form of Radio Waves, as well as Infrared, Visible, and Ultraviolet Light Waves.

Ionizing Cosmic Radiation from our Sun includes X-Rays, Gamma Rays, Electrons, Protons, and Solar Neutrinos.

Over history as we know it, the radiation output from our Sun seems to fluctuate somewhat with the poorly understood 11-year cycle of sunspots, but no significant changes in long-term trends of Solar Radiation have been observed.  We assume that the long-term average amount of Solar Radiation will remain about as steady as it has been in the past.

Even though our Sun is near enough that there could be theoretical possibilities of modifying its radiation through appropriate seeding, we consider it unlikely that any such manipulative control strategy will become necessary in the foreseeable future.

(2)  Extra-Solar Cosmic Radiation

Cosmic Radiation arriving at the Earth from other stars in the universe includes very little non-ionizing radiation, but does include X-Rays, Gamma Rays, Muons, Pions, Protons, Anti-Protons, and Neutrinos.

Stars other than our Sun are very far away.  We have no imaginable technology which could enable us to control any significant upsets in Extra-Solar Cosmic Radiation.  If a cataclysmic event such as a Gamma-Ray Burst would occur in our galactic near vicinity, we would be unable to protect our environment from it.  We can only hope that our history and good fortune of experiencing no such nearby events will continue into the far future.

For now, we must rest with the assumption that all such Cosmic Radiation will remain approximately constant, at least to the level where it affects Earth's life forms.  Interestingly, taken together, the Solar and Extra-Solar Cosmic Radiation represents only about 13% of the total ionizing radiation we receive on Earth.

(3)  Terrestrial Radiation

By far the largest portion of our day-to-day supply of radioactivity has its origins in our own planet.

Natural terrestrial radioactivity comes from fissionable elements distributed throughout Earth's crust and in its deeper levels as well.  Unfortunately, the mining and refinement of Uranium ores, in order to prepare fuel for our world's nuclear power plants, has the effect of removing radioactive materials from our immediate surroundings, bottling them up securely inside heavy containments.

We do not have enough information to predict accurately what the long-range effects may be from depriving animal and plant life of this naturally occurring radioactivity.

In the interests of maintaining the delicate balance of nature, we recommend a program to replenish the vital radionuclides which are being gradually taken out of our environment for the purpose of fueling our conventional fission-type nuclear reactors.

Fortunately, coal is an excellent source of radionuclides.

 

Coal to the Rescue

Coal occurs in nature along with many other trace elements, some of which are radioactive, and some of which are not.  The most common of the radioactive constituents in mined coal are:

    -Uranium
    -Thorium
    -Potassium-40

and the products of their radioactive decay (some of which are radioactive themselves):

    -Radium
    -Radon
    -Polonium
    -Bismuth
    -Lead.

Other materials naturally occurring with coal are metals which have higher chemical toxicity but negligible radioactivity, and so are of no value in restoring lost radionuclides to the environment:

    -Arsenic
    -Selenium
    -Mercury.

The concentration of Uranium in coal varies somewhat from region to region, but it is typically in the range of about 1-4 parts per million.  Thorium often is up to 3 times as abundant as Uranium.

When coal is burned, the volatile radionuclides escape directly to the flue gases, but the non-volatile Uranium and Thorium concentrate into the ash residue.  The resulting ash is about  ten times as rich in Thorium and Uranium as the coal originally mined.

Normalized to an average 1000-Megawatt installation, a typical coal-burning plant in one year produces about 12 Tons of Thorium, and 5 Tons of Uranium, which naturally includes 38 kilograms (74 pounds) of pure, radioactive, U-235.

Uranium enriched to as little as 3% U-235 can be suitable fuel for Nuclear Power Reactors.

The total nuclear energy content available from the uncollected radionuclides produced by burning coal is greater than the total amount of thermal energy released in combustion of that coal!

Coal-burning power plants are an under-appreciated source of valuable radionuclides.

 

Radionuclide Replenishment

When we redistribute radionuclides from coal sources, we are substituting them for the radionuclides which were removed from our biosphere to create Nuclear Fuel.  However, we do not need to replace the radionuclides on a one-for-one basis.  The coal-plant radioactivity can be kept in closer contact with our biosphere, making it considerably more effective than the raw Uranium ore was before it was mined.

The key factor in Radionuclide Replenishment is in the way we choose to redistribute it widely.  Since we are advocating co-location of Conventional Power Plants along with powerful Wind Turbines, we suggest an innovative operating mode for those turbines.

 

Windmill Snowmaker Mode

For each Coal-Fired Generating Station, the radionuclide-enriched effluent can be ducted to the nearby electrically driven turbines, and introduced to the resulting air flow into the atmosphere.  The effect will be a grand-scale reproduction of the effective methods for artificial snow-making at ski resorts around the world.  Radionuclides, launched high into the atmosphere will gradually settle downward over a huge area, and restore Natural Radioactivity in the Balance of Nature.

The Solution to Pollution is Dilution.

 

Further Study

We need further studies to determine with better precision how many Nuclear Stations can be served by the radionuclide output from each single Coal-Fired Power Station.

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