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August 01, 2014
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Current Concerns  >  2012  >  No 12, 19 March 2012  >  Nuclear energy without radioactivity – no dream [printversion]

Nuclear energy without radioactivity – no dream

From Uranium to Lithium nuclear fuel – introduction of the brochure by Dipl. Ing. Heinz Werner Gabriel

bha. A year ago, Japan was hit by a nuclear disaster of unprecedented extent. The uncertainty of the population concerning the release of radioactivity continues unabatedly; the political debate in our country about the withdrawal from nuclear energy programs prevents taking into account a central concern of man in the nuclear age, namely:

The production and release of large amounts of radioactivity, since the fission of uranium is a source of serious damage to people, animals and the environment.

The tragedy of Fukushima which the world cannot get rid of by whatsoever eloquent explanations, the tragedy of the reactor explosion at Chernobyl in Ukraine and several nuclear disasters more whose implications have been played down for a long time – the core of these tragedies is the amount of the released radioactivity. Economic losses for the state and society by major reactor accidents additionally hit the countries’ vital  nerve by the loss of arable land.

While WHO and IAEA stick steadfastly to their model of masking true statistics on disease outcomes such as after the Chernobyl disaster, various medical research findings irrefutably reveal the fact that once released ionizing radiation has somatic and genetic effects on human cells.

While the debate on renewable energy sources creates a stir, – which makes sense by the way, because humanity should learn to deal in a more modest and thrifty way with our natural resources – the debate should be expanded on the subject of the release of ionizing radiation and its consequences for health and the environment.

With his brochure “Nuclear energy without radioactivity” the author, graduate engineer Heinz Werner Gabriel, makes an important contribution to health and energy policy and to the debate on the closure of aging nuclear power plants. The central message is that a country could be supplied with enough energy if we changed the paradigm so far underlying nuclear technology, i.e. that nuclear fission and release of energy was only possible by means of uranium. A new world opens up to the reader – and the debate on the withdrawal from nuclear energy programs has gained an important constructive dimension more.

The following provides the reader with a sample of the brochure.


Foreword

The idea to deal with the topic of “nuclear energy without radioactivity” dates back to the year 2001. In the vicinity of several nuclear facilities particle-bound radioactivity could be tracked as well as beryllium 7 according to documents from 1986/87.

The type of radioactivity is a clear indicator that lithium was handled there.

Knowledge of the fissility and energy release of lithium has been growing for decades; the knowledge that nuclear power could be produced without radioactive emission has grown accordingly.

Hoping that this research will provide a small contribution to a less risky future, I dedicate this book to my children and grandchildren Ines and Andreas, Anna-Lina and Aurelia.

H.W Gabriel, 20.01.2012

Summary

If asked why they argue against the use of nuclear energy, people mainly answer that “The threat imposed on us by radioactivity and nuclear waste is intolerable”.

If asked whether nuclear power plants could be built that do not produce radioactivity, scientists virtually always answer “no”.

This assessment does not correspond with the latest research in sciences. If the previously used nuclear fuel uranium is replaced by lithium, the nuclear fission process will produce energy without radioactivity.

This process becomes comprehensible if we look at the fragmentation of lithium 6 by intruding deuterium. First an atom consisting of four protons and 4 neutrons is produced, which is then split up in two similar inactive helium atoms.

However, with the fission of uranium, consisting of 92 protons and 143 neutrons, several hundred fragments are generated.

The absence of radioactivity eliminates the risk of an emergency and the necessity of finding a permanent repository for highly radioactive-waste. Nuclear energy can thus become economically usable and acceptable for society.

Lithium fission has been known since 1932 whereas that of uranium has been known since 1938. Documents and patents for the use of lithium in reactors have been available since 1955 or 1975.

We have received only scarce information about the construction of small lithium-reactors. So far hybrid reactors have been used as sources for neutrons in order to procreate fissile material.

Civil construction projects with electricity generation costs of 5 cent/kwh have been announced for 2008.

Periods fixed for construction are at an estimated 5 years in case practical experience with hybrid reactors was amply available.

The question why uranium was the preferred initial fissible atom can easily be answered: uranium was weapon-grade material; lithium however was not, due to the lacking chain reaction.

Considering the lithium resources worldwide the primary energy demands of the world could be covered for more than 800 years without producing any radioactivity.

Accepting the creation of short-term radioactivity (half-life period < 12 years), the timeframe could be extended threefold.

Even today lithium fission is a feasible alternative for the not yet available large scale civil nuclear fusion.
According to recent statements (prior to the Fukushima disaster), “uranium and plutonium” are to be split instead of “lithium-deuterium” in the compact reactors announced for 2008.

Who could make an objection to “lithium as long-term energy source free from radioactivity”?

The Fukushima disaster clearly showed the necessity to use energy systems without radioactivity or with strictly reduced radioactivity: both owners and operators of nuclear power plants cannot compensate for the damage caused by an accident – and the state will have to substitute. To sum up: nuclear-energy with today’s amount of radioactivity cannot be operated on a private basis.

Chapter 1: Renouncing nuclear energy – a political comedy

The last three explosions and meltdowns in nuclear reactors so far took place in Fukushima in March 2011.
Again, some countries want to renounce nuclear power, others are holding on to their nuclear reactors.
Both attitudes are well marked by political opportunism, incompetence and irresponsibility.

Lately one performs somersaults to the citizens’ disadvantage because the conflict between security and economics has not yet been solved.

Those who focus the use of nuclear energy on the operation of conceptually outmoded types of nuclear power plants from 1955 may be called incompetent.

A comparison: a car, the VW-Beetle, often causes lethal rear-end collisions due to the explosion of the fuel tanks located at the front. As a consequence, politicians enact a general prohibition of car driving.

Incompetence that is hazardous for the community is also demonstrated when yesterday a 40 billion euro product (NPP) was declared safe and today it is declared unsafe.

Those people who have not sought to install a fundamentally new product after more than seven core meltdown accidents since 1960 (in physically similar reactors) must be called irresponsible. Instead, a tiger (which can eat up a big city in case of failure) was only covered under a sheepskin. The sheepfold is then called “robust” for sheep running against it after a “stress test”.

Legislation for the “nuclear phase-out-phase-in” in Germany was not a great moment of expertise on scientific policy.
Below, the key decisions in the development of nuclear energy are discussed, which ultimately led to today’s technology and its problems.

The loss of credibility in politics, economics and science should be counteracted in order to be able to objectively asses and realize the chances of nuclear energy use without radioactivity.

These opportunities are not a dream but a professionally proven reality.

The potential for accidents with radioactivity and the necessity for radioactive waste disposal for thousands of years would be eliminated.

Some countries, such as in Switzerland, have taken a step towards objectivity and put strict, supposedly not satisfactory safety criteria for new nuclear power plants forward for discussion:

a) Leakage of radioactivity to the environment must be excluded.
b) Large releases of radioactivity should be excluded, but not following the principle of likelihood in gambling.
c) The radioactive lifetime of radioactive waste should be in the range of a generation.

With lithium-deuterium nuclear fuel such criteria can be met!

The fact that such a decisive perspective can be overlooked results from a restricted nuclear physics education, in which the scientists teach and learn from industrial production only.

The safest way of civilian use of nuclear energy was not allowed to be either named or pursued.
The objectification of the term “security” via fixed criteria was not desirable.

The marketing of standard plants for decades was not permitted to be disturbed by a new “security level of science and technology”.

Concern about the spreading of nuclear weapons is being misused by dominant countries to interfere with economic competitors when they develop new methods for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. •

About the author

Heinz Werner Gabriel is a graduate engineer in technical physics. He was active in the planning, construction and operation of five nuclear power plants and was leading projects on the development of safety-enhanced nuclear reactors and nuclear reprocessing plants.

In the scientific staff of the German Bundestag he was part of the shaping of future nuclear energy policy. As an independent expert he supported the legal authorities in investigations of offences against the Atomic Energy Act and the War Weapons Control Act for many years. With specific analytical methods, he cleared the basic origin of trafficked fission materials and the event time as well as the cause of concealed accidents in several nuclear installations.

E-mail: li-energy.info@arcor.de

Quotations on the introduction  ...

Oath of a professor in front of the administrative Court

I swear, a reactor pressure vessel can not burst.

An upright professor at the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

You will not be able to cope without risk assessment considering probabilities.

Reproach of a coworker

“A few years working in the nuclear energy policy has probably damaged your rationality – in the nuclear safety one plus one must still be two.”

Answer with a counterquestion: “You are married and have a beloved child. Are you not practicing an extensive rationality in which ‘one plus one’ may take the value three as well?”

Retrospective complaint of a nuclear physicist

Conceited because of the high professional prestige,
being annoyed with doubts of simple-minded citizen,
defending with lies externally controlled,
uncertain about the future of children,
shameless concealment of past actions,
hoping to make up for lost opportunities.

From the brochure:
Nuclear energy without radioactivity – No dream