Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I'm Going to go Tour Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant Tomorrow

I'm going to go tour Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant tomorrow.   Looking up things about nuclear power I found out tours are available, and I thought it would be kind of cool to see a nuclear power plant with my own eyes.   When I get back I'll edit this post adding how it went... 

I had a lot of  fun. I got there a little early.  Waited about 20 minutes until it opened.  I started of at a visitor center called the  PG&E Energy Education Center.  I started by looking around at the exhibits.  Here is a replica fuel assembly that I thought was neat.

Unfortunately I'm not so great a photography.  After I looked around a little they had a lecture.  Most of it stuff I already know, but one interesting fact is that Fukushima was only 20 feet above sea level, while Diablo Canyon is 85 feet above sea level.  Quit the difference.  The lecture left me with a nifty souvenir.

Its a plastic replica fuel pellet.   On it is written that it is the equivalent of 149 gallons of oil, one ton of coal or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas.  Rather nicely done I thought.

After that we drove to the plant.  They didn't let me take any pictures inside the plant, but I was allowed to take this one outside it.

Security was really tight.  I didn't know nuclear power plants had so much security.  Inside the plant was fairly normal looking for the most part.  I got the see the turbine rooms which was really impressive.  It was amazing to sit there and think about how much power is flowing through such a small area.  I also got to look into the control room through a small window in the door.  The dry cask waste storage was a lot smaller then I thought it would be.  I was impressed by the number of things they changed in response to Fukushima.

 Over all I would have to say I was very happy with the tour, and impressed by the whole operation. Also, it's nice to now be able say I've seen a nuclear power plant with my own eyes. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Comment Donation Bank

A comment donation bank would be a website where people donate their comments with the understanding that other people will copy and past them various places on the Internet.

This is an idea I've been thinking about for a while.  There is a lot of work involved in responding to the repeated bad ideas put forth by people who choose to remain ignorant.  This website would exist to help reduce that work of fighting those bad ideas and misinformation by allowing people to keep repeating the same responses every time. 

How I picture it working

Anyone will be able to make comment pages.  Comment pages will have tags attached to them which help organize them.  Tags will be for what the comment can be used to respond to.  Some possible tags might be for things like nuclear waste, and nuclear proliferation threats, or responses to individual papers and websites.  People can make their own tags or use tags that other people made.  Comment pages will have their own comment section, a way to flag inappropriate or inaccurate comments, and a way to rate the usefulness of the comments to give feedback about how effective individual comments are in practice.   

Some Costs Matter More than Others

In any in depth discussion about energy invariably costs get brought up at some point.  Cost are very important, but I would argue that some costs matter than others though.  

Costs of raw material and production costs are the most important because these cost can give you some idea of the EROEI.  The cost of raw materials give you some idea of the energy needed in order to gather and refine them.  The cost of production gives you an idea of how much energy is needed in order to assemble the raw materials. 

Labour costs are much less important because people have to work doing something anyway.  Also, the amount of labour needed matters more than the  the dollar amount because it can give you some idea of how much labour will be available for other pursuits if the energy source in question became more prevalent. 

Costs imposed by governments are also much less important, because they often correlate mostly to labour costs, and because they can be changed at some future date. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Week Long Trip to China

My sister decided to go to China and she was kind enough to take me with her.   I decided to take a break from the usual topics to talk about my trip. 

First Stop Beijing

Beautify city.  While there I say the great wall, the forbidden city and a number of temples.  The city has a great subway system.  It was the first time I've ever used a subway.  I was impressed.  Every major city should have one.  Also impressive to me was the electric tram system, and the rent a bike stations all over the place.  There was also a lot of small vehicles which I'm guessing were fuel efficient.

Traffic was insane.  Traffic lanes and lights were more like suggestions then rules.   Seat belts and turn signals were not widely used.    Instead people seemed to rely mostly on their horns for telling other cars what they were doing.

The air quality was a bit bad.  There were some evergreen trees I saw which were decidedly lacking in the green part.

Second Stop Xi'an

After a few days in Beijing I took a sleeper train to Xi'an.  As the name implies a sleeper train is a train with beds.  There were four beds to a room.  Lucky my sister got the same room as me.  Her bed was above mine.  It was a bit hard to figure out what to do at the train stop since no one seemed to speak English there.  Lucky by following the crowed we figured it out eventually.  It is a good thing we didn't have to buy the tickets ourselves or we would really have been lost. 

When we got there we saw the Terracotta army.  They were rather impressive.  We also saw a temple and the cities wall.  Unfortunately there was no subways in this city so we were a bit limited in what we could do. 

Third Stop Shanghai

We took a sleeper train to Shanghai.  It was an impressive city.  Unfortunately my sister was a bit sick so we didn't do much there.  We saw the museum and the people's square then went back to our hotel.  I went out and got some food by myself latter.  It was only 15 yuan (Around $2.40 US) which was pretty amazing for the amount of food I got.  The less touristy places in China are a lot cheaper.  The next day we left.  I went home, and my sister went to New Zealand.  She'll be back in about a month.