Why isn't nuclear power considered renewable?

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flibber
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Is it because of the radioactive waste left behind by nuclear fission?

If we can harness large scale electricity using nuclear fusion, will it be considered renewable?
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MatthewP15
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No. Nuclear materials will run out whereas wind,water,fire etc are renewable as they are naturally generated and are not destroyed once used to produce energy.
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by flibber)
Is it because of the radioactive waste left behind by nuclear fission?

If we can harness large scale electricity using nuclear fusion, will it be considered renewable?
Because it's not. Renewable means the source has to be naturally replenishable within relatively short periods of times, and that doesn't apply to nuclear. It's nothing to do with the environmental damage - hydroelectric power is renewable but it can be incredibly environmentally destructive - it's simply because it, by definition, isn't renewable.

Whether or not fusion power is renewable would depend on the rate of replenishment of the relevant isotopes so I'm not sure if they're technically renewable. Nevertheless, if - for instance - we used the ocean as a source of Deuterium then the supplies would be big enough to make it effectively a renewable research.
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flibber
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
Because it's not. Renewable means the source has to be naturally replenishable within relatively short periods of times, and that doesn't apply to nuclear. It's nothing to do with the environmental damage - hydroelectric power is renewable but it can be incredibly environmentally destructive - it's simply because it, by definition, isn't renewable.

(Original post by MatthewP15)
No. Nuclear materials will run out whereas wind,water,fire etc are renewable as they are naturally generated and are not destroyed once used to produce energy.
So is the news about nuclear fusion potentially solving our energy problems with the massive amounts of electricity it can generate simply hype?
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by flibber)
So is the news about nuclear fusion potentially solving our energy problems with the massive amounts of electricity it can generate simply hype?
No, I've edited my post. If we use fusion as a fuel source, whilst the resource might not technically be renewable (I'm not 100% sure), it's abundant enough to make it effectively limitless as far as humans are concerned. That doesn't mean it's a perfect energy source. We've not actually managed to get it to work yet (and it's not a certainty that we ever will) and there are questions about where you get the fuel from in the first place. The ocean would be a relatively environmentally friendly source if done properly but there are some people advocating using the moon as a source of certain isotopes which could be very environmentally destructive.

I personally think that true renewables like solar are a better source of energy than fusion.
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flibber
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
No, I've edited my post. If we use fusion as a fuel source, whilst the resource might not technically be renewable (I'm not 100% sure), it's abundant enough to make it effectively limitless as far as humans are concerned. That doesn't mean it's a perfect energy source. We've not actually managed to get it to work yet (and it's not a certainty that we ever will) and there are questions about where you get the fuel from in the first place. The ocean would be a relatively environmentally friendly source if done properly but there are some people advocating using the moon as a source of certain isotopes which could be very environmentally destructive.

I personally think that true renewables like solar are a better source of energy than fusion.
Is there a reason as to why using the moon as a source of isotopes is environmentally destructive?

P.S. Since you like Earth Sciences, do you know of the current book I'm reading called 'The Long Summer' by Brian Fagan?
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by flibber)
Is there a reason as to why using the moon as a source of isotopes is environmentally destructive?

P.S. Since you like Earth Sciences, do you know of the current book I'm reading called 'The Long Summer' by Brian Fagan?
Well, first of all, you destroy the moon.

Secondly, think of all the infrastructure needed to get stuff to the moon and back. That's a huge amount of industrialisation required. On top of that, it's definitely not going to solve any of the geopolitical problems we have with energy at the moment because it's going to be the exact same powers owning the rights over the big energy source.

The Long Summer looks very interesting, I might get it. Thanks for the advice
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BasicMistake
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Correct me if I'm wrong but is 'renewable' the right term for resources such as solar and wind power? I always thought they are 'sustainable' resources. They renew by themselves without intervention/management.
Things like wood and biofuels are renewable as they can be managed to avoid depletion.

Nuclear fission doesn't technically fit into either category. Uranium and plutonium don't exactly replenish with or without management.

Nuclear fusion (if we ever get that far without destroying ourselves) isn't renewable/sustainable either but I think there are enough of the light elements to keep us going.
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uberteknik
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(Original post by flibber)
So is the news about nuclear fusion potentially solving our energy problems with the massive amounts of electricity it can generate simply hype?

It all depends on the final mature-technology fuel solution between the deuterium-tritium fusion process (which requires lithium 6 to breed tritium in the reactor) and the deuterium-deuterium process which only requires refining sea water to extract the deuterium.

At present estimates, the energy produced equates to the consumption of 1 litre of sea water (33 milligrams of deuterium extraction) producing the same energy output as in 300 litres of kerosene. Hence the potential is for a limitless supply of energy.

The tritium process still requires lithium ore and at current rates of energy consumption there are 1000 years of estimated supply available.

Both technologies are a long way from maturity and probably not until the last quarter of this century before fusion reactors are commonplace.
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flibber
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
Well, first of all, you destroy the moon.

Secondly, think of all the infrastructure needed to get stuff to the moon and back. That's a huge amount of industrialisation required. On top of that, it's definitely not going to solve any of the geopolitical problems we have with energy at the moment because it's going to be the exact same powers owning the rights over the big energy source.

The Long Summer looks very interesting, I might get it. Thanks for the advice
1) You're welcome. The only reason that I'm reading it is because my Geography teacher made me to since I failed to beat my Year 10 End of Year exam in my mocks. It's still very interesting nonetheless.

2) Isn't it hard arguing against moon exploitation/asteroid mining given that they're not animate objects, and no organisms live there? The only argument against it is that of 'beauty', which is quite flimsy. Roughly c.f. Earth where cities wouldn't have existed without us changing the Earth's appearance.

3) I do agree with the huge logistical problems.


(Original post by BasicMistake)
Correct me if I'm wrong but is 'renewable' the right term for resources such as solar and wind power? I always thought they are 'sustainable' resources. They renew by themselves without intervention/management.
Things like wood and biofuels are renewable as they can be managed to avoid depletion.

Nuclear fission doesn't technically fit into either category. Uranium and plutonium don't exactly replenish with or without management.

Nuclear fusion (if we ever get that far without destroying ourselves) isn't renewable/sustainable either but I think there are enough of the light elements to keep us going.
Lol I always thought that you could obtain Uranium and Plutonium from the nuclear decay of other elements! Perhaps I was completely wrong!
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by flibber)
1) You're welcome. The only reason that I'm reading it is because my Geography teacher made me to since I failed to beat my Year 10 End of Year exam in my mocks. It's still very interesting nonetheless.

2) Isn't it hard arguing against moon exploitation/asteroid mining given that they're not animate objects, and no organisms live there? The only argument against it is that of 'beauty', which is quite flimsy. Roughly c.f. Earth where cities wouldn't have existed without us changing the Earth's appearance.

3) I do agree with the huge logistical problems.
Well first of all, my argument isn't just limited to beauty (in fact it's got nothing to do with beauty at all). The crux of my argument literally just is that humans aren't even capable of managing our own planet responsibly so why on earth should we start spreading our destructive influence to other planets? I don't understand why destruction seems to be an acceptable cost for consumerism. Now obviously, that's just a personal view and I do have other arguments. As I've said, the logistics are difficult and it would stop fusion being an environmentally friendly fuel, defeating the object (I have other objections to fusion power, too). On top of that, the moon is a scientific treasure trove, precisely because it's so untouched. Damaging the moon could destroy discoveries that we don't even know about.
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BasicMistake
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(Original post by flibber)
Lol I always thought that you could obtain Uranium and Plutonium from the nuclear decay of other elements! Perhaps I was completely wrong!
Isn't the point of radioactive decay that elements like uranium decay into elements like lead? I always thought that lead-206 has the last stable nuclei, anything more decays into lead or something else.

There was the whole thing about some mercury isotope decaying into some gold isotope. Really slow alchemy I guess.
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flibber
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(Original post by BasicMistake)
Isn't the point of radioactive decay that elements like uranium decay into elements like lead? I always thought that lead-206 has the last stable nuclei, anything more decays into lead or something else.

There was the whole thing about some mercury isotope decaying into some gold isotope. Really slow alchemy I guess.
You're probably right. 99% of the time when I get a different answer to somebody else, I'm the one who gets it wrong. Well physics isn't my strongest subject given an awful teacher in Year 9 which means that many of the stuff on the specification is stuff I'm learning for the first time.
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flibber
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
Well first of all, my argument isn't just limited to beauty (in fact it's got nothing to do with beauty at all). The crux of my argument literally just is that humans aren't even capable of managing our own planet responsibly so why on earth should we start spreading our destructive influence to other planets? I don't understand why destruction seems to be an acceptable cost for consumerism. Now obviously, that's just a personal view and I do have other arguments. As I've said, the logistics are difficult and it would stop fusion being an environmentally friendly fuel, defeating the object (I have other objections to fusion power, too). On top of that, the moon is a scientific treasure trove, precisely because it's so untouched. Damaging the moon could destroy discoveries that we don't even know about.
Surely, one can make the point that even though we've been destroying our own planet (arguably except for Antarctica and its ice cores), that hasn't stopped us from finding out tons of information about it? Furthermore, your argument seems to imply that there are some organisms out there which will be impacted by our negative influence in other planets. Thirdly, geopolitical problems can work both ways. For example, not using any oil may cause geopolitical problems. On a purely geopolitical basis, one can say that if the oil rich region of Kurdistan (or at least the Iraqi part of it) becomes an independent country, it'd be better to not phase out fossil fuels completely to keep in good terms with a potential Middle Eastern ally by buying their oil to give them a good source of revenue. Some strategists of this planet believe that we also need to keep in good terms with the other oil producing states (terrible their human rights records may be) to ensure cooperation in certain areas (war against terror, for example). I have no further objections to your arguments.

We can carry on this discussion elsewhere if needbe, although I admit I lose debates most of the time since I just haven't done any research on the topic. My arguments have been scientifically proven to have the same centre of mass as a pyramid of cards!

Thank you for answering my original question.
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by flibber)
Surely, one can make the point that even though we've been destroying our own planet (arguably except for Antarctica and its ice cores), that hasn't stopped us from finding out tons of information about it? Furthermore, your argument seems to imply that there are some organisms out there which will be impacted by our negative influence in other planets. Thirdly, geopolitical problems can work both ways. For example, not using any oil may cause geopolitical problems. On a purely geopolitical basis, one can say that if the oil rich region of Kurdistan (or at least the Iraqi part of it) becomes an independent country, it'd be better to not phase out fossil fuels completely to keep in good terms with a potential Middle Eastern ally by buying their oil to give them a good source of revenue. Some strategists of this planet believe that we also need to keep in good terms with the other oil producing states (terrible their human rights records may be) to ensure cooperation in certain areas (war against terror, for example). I have no further objections to your arguments.

We can carry on this discussion elsewhere if needbe, although I admit I lose debates most of the time since I just haven't done any research on the topic. My arguments have been scientifically proven to have the same centre of mass as a pyramid of cards!

Thank you for answering my original question.
There is information about the solar system and about Earth that we can only get from sources outside of the Earth because there's not been any significant activity for billions of years. Industrial activity on the moon wouldn't completely invalidate its archives but once again, I ask the question: Why? We can easily cope with the resources we have on Earth if we behave responsibly. To have to resort to the moon is to accept that we are incapable of managing our own resources properly and if that's the case, isn't it incredibly irresponsible to start trashing other bodies once we've sucked our own planet of usefulness? I've used the virus analogy before and I think it works well. I'd like to think that humans are better than viruses, that simply exploit a host until it's no longer useful before discarding it and moving over to a new host. We can live sustainably, it just requires care and putting value in the importance of sustainability and nature, as well as accepting that we are simply intelligent animals rather than god-like dominators of nature.

Your geopolitical argument doesn't make sense. As long as you've got particular groups dominating resources that everyone needs, you're sowing the seeds for conflict. The only way of solving this is by using energy sources that everyone can access.
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(Original post by BasicMistake)
Correct me if I'm wrong but is 'renewable' the right term for resources such as solar and wind power? I always thought they are 'sustainable' resources. They renew by themselves without intervention/management.
Things like wood and biofuels are renewable as they can be managed to avoid depletion.

Nuclear fission doesn't technically fit into either category. Uranium and plutonium don't exactly replenish with or without management.

Nuclear fusion (if we ever get that far without destroying ourselves) isn't renewable/sustainable either but I think there are enough of the light elements to keep us going.


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Fusion is renewable. nuclear fuaion won't destroy anything your confusing yourself.Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe.
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(Original post by flibber)
Is it because of the radioactive waste left behind by nuclear fission?

If we can harness large scale electricity using nuclear fusion, will it be considered renewable?


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Yes, Nuclear fusion is renewable since hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe.Nuclear fusion is renewable in the same context as solar and win power, nuclear and wind power is only renewable as long as the Sun keeps shining but Hydrogen will still be there.
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(Original post by Chlorophile)
Well first of all, my argument isn't just limited to beauty (in fact it's got nothing to do with beauty at all). The crux of my argument literally just is that humans aren't even capable of managing our own planet responsibly so why on earth should we start spreading our destructive influence to other planets? I don't understand why destruction seems to be an acceptable cost for consumerism. Now obviously, that's just a personal view and I do have other arguments. As I've said, the logistics are difficult and it would stop fusion being an environmentally friendly fuel, defeating the object (I have other objections to fusion power, too). On top of that, the moon is a scientific treasure trove, precisely because it's so untouched. Damaging the moon could destroy discoveries that we don't even know about.


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The problem with fusion isn't anything to do with logistics, the problem is that currently it takes more energy to fuse the hydrogen atoms than the energy released by the process.We don't need any fuel in the same sense as fission does.
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(Original post by MatthewP15)
No. Nuclear materials will run out whereas wind,water,fire etc are renewable as they are naturally generated and are not destroyed once used to produce energy.


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Fusion is renewable.Fusion uses hydrogen as the its energy source and hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe. nuclear fusion is renewable in the same sense as solar and wind, those will only last as long as the Sun keeps shining.Even if the Sun stopped, shining Hydrogen will still be available.
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flibber
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(Original post by edahmu)
Fancy winning £150? We're creating a version of Khan academy for A levels and would love to get responses- survey takes 2 mins

One person gets £150 and we've not gotten many responses please help us out!

surveymonkey.com/s/5NPGQF6
Maybe post this in a separate thread! I shall complete the survey when I have time.
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