TechNet: 'Nuclear world is a green world'

TechNet: 'Nuclear world is a green world'

Summary: TechNet, a bipartisan, political action group of high tech senior executives that promotes the growth of technology and innovation, hosted a dinner last night in Palo Alto to discuss some of its agenda items, which have included stances on education, patent reform, stock options and broadband and Internet policy. The newest agenda, a Green Technologies Initiative, was the subject of discussion last night.

TOPICS: Emerging Tech

TechNet, a bipartisan, political action group of high tech senior executives that promotes the growth of technology and innovation, hosted a dinner last night in Palo Alto to discuss some of its agenda items, which have included stances on education, patent reform, stock options and broadband and Internet policy.

The newest agenda, a Green Technologies Initiative, was the subject of discussion last night. Floyd Kvamme, co-chair of President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), said the group would be making recommendations on energy policy next month to the President. In a preview of the findings, Kvamme said, "Bottom line is we will need 50 percent more electricity by 2030. We are recommending a return to the nuclear world—it’s the greenest of the green." 

Currently, nuclear accounts for about 20 percent the energy supply, Kvamme said, and that level will need to be maintained to make progress, he said. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 has provisions for new nuclear power plant as well for investment in biofuels, such as ethanol and butanol. Kvamme likened the biofuel debate, as to which substance would dominate it to the early days of Silicon Valley, when the germanium and silicon were vying to be the of the semiconductor industry. Ethanol may end up being germanium, but the jury is still out.

John Doerr, of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said there is "no silver bullet," to reduce greenhouse gases and energy consumption. "Biofuels are part of the solution, and we need to accelerate adoption of those alternatives, replacing coal, which is the biggest culprit," Doerr said. Solar energy is a mere .02 percent source of energy today, Doerr said. Less than one percent of sales from oil companies goes into R&D, Doerr cited. He proposed an E-ARPA, modeled after DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to manage and fund basic and applied R&D in green technologies. The Internet, for example, got its start as part of government funded research.

Doerr, who invested in Google, Amazon, Sun and other major hits, and many others in the VC community are betting heavily on green technologies as a next major profit windfall.

Sarbannes-Oxley and HB1 visas also came under fire from the group at dinner. SOX  has had an adverse effect on companies going public, which the VCs don’t appreciate, and the one size fits all regulation penalizes small- and medium-sized companies. As a result, there are more mergers and acquisitions as liquidity events, and companies are going public on foreign exchanges, such as London Stock Exchange. "SOX is a gross overreaction, especially around the definition of 'materiality,'" Doerr said. "It is the accountants full-employment act."

Robert Grady, who heads the Carlyle Groups VC fund and is president of the National Venture Capital Association, said that 25 percent of companies that have recently gone public have at least one founder who is foreign born. For high-tech IPOs, the number is 40 percent. "We are closing the door to the best minds," said Aart de Geus, CEO of Synopsys.

Stay tuned for coverage from the TechNet Innovation Summit at Stanford University, where Charlie Rose will talk with Bill Gates, John Doerr, Jerry Yang, Scott McNealy and other high-tech executives.

Topic: Emerging Tech

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  • Guess they forgot about

    all that nuclear waste with minimum 10000 year half life.

    Whatever happened to the multi billion dollar federal project to build long term storage facilities for this stuff that has yet to work and had all kinds of problems with leaks and what not.
    • So what?

      Better to have stored nuke material than a gazillion tons of crap in the air we breath.

      But hey, if you really want to help, get off the power grid. Then you have some right to complain.
      • Nice conclusion

        I never said that America shouldn't use nuclear waste. Its just that there are reasons why America hasn't built anymore plants in decades.

        I'm all for nuclear power as long as the CURRENT, SIGNIFICANT problems that HAVE NOT BEEN FIXED are corrected before moving forward.

        What good is it to be able to breath the air when you've contaminated the water supply and soil with radioactive waste?
        • No_ax volunteers his backyard

          Sure billions of tons of crap in the air are not better than radioactive junk in the ground.
          Except that when it comes to pick a place for radioactive waste nobody wants it (how about your 'hood No_ax?), and we always find out 15 years too late that the leak-proof tanks are ... leaking (into the Columbia river for example).
          Too much interested is vested in fossil fuels and nuclear energy, they have been dominant for a long time, so they have plenty of $$$ and powerful lobbyists.
          Nuclear is not the only alternative and certainly not a feasible one: so far nuclear energy accounts for a tiny percentage of the energy we use and we already have trouble managing the waste, multiply that by 50 times, and by 3 times (to account for the increase in population and energy need of countries like China), and consider that each of us will be likely to have a radioactive waste facility close to home.
          Bio-fuels, solar, and fuel cells are not enough?
          Brazil has cut his need of oil by 70% and could, if they needed or wanted to, reduce its consumption even more. If somebody would sell me a plug-in electric car (none of the large car manufacturers sell electric car in the US, the ones available are produced in small quantity and are too expensive for the regular Joe) I could charge it from solar panels and get a 100 - 180 miles range. Cars and city buses powered by fuel cells have been driving around California and Canada for many years already. They were already working fine in 1999, so why can't I have one yet, and why do some people keep saying that "fuel cell technology is not an option yet".
          I think that the choice of our sources of energy is mainly a political one, and not based what is feasible and better for the country and for the environment.
  • Land based Nuclear power plants make excellent targets..

    Within a few decades low yield 10 to 20kt, nuclear weapons will be readily available on the black market. It's just a matter of time before one or more of them are smuggled into the USA (Jericho).

    (All thanks to the adminstration(s) lack of port, boarder security, and it's blanket invitation to illegal aliens.)

    Targeting a land based nuclear power plant would result in huge amounts of collateral damage. Wide scale food chain contamination, >100,000 sq miles off limits for hundreds of years. (I.E. Chernobyl *20, est early death ~600,000 people and still climbing.)

    The resulting dislocation and economic disruption would effectively kill millions of people. Just dealing with the refugee problem, (10's of millions for the remainder of their lifetimes), would place a tremendous burden on our remaining society.

    Compare that to targeting of a large metropolis, with a downtown explosion killing a couple of hundred thousand people outright and destroying a couple of square miles. (Leaving a vast majority of the remaining ~1000sq mile metropolis mostly intact).
    Area destroyed are would be rebuilt and reinhabited within 20 years.

    Ask yourself.. Which target is the obvious choice?


    Meanwhile our future energy solution is obvious.

    Invest in conservation, renewables (solar/wind/water), recycling, and expanding grid infrastructure. Shift from ICE based autos to EV's where possible. (Excess EV energy storage could be used to help even out grid variations.)

    Use excess renewable energy to make H2 gas, store it in depleted NG wells(90-95% eff)...Feed H2 back in high eff combined cycle gas turbine plants (60% eff) when needed.


    Any future for fission power must include enhanced evasive and defensive capabilities. Ocean going nuclear power production vessels, moored 20 miles offshore, protected by the navy. Able to quickly sail out of harms way in times of crisis (20+knots).
    • Guess you never seen LNG go up.

    • Nuclear is safe in responsible hands.

      I am for it and it should be used to jump start the renewable industry. We only have about 100 years left of mining uranium and it is depleted for all time. The best is wind power and CIGS solar for most bang for the buck. Build these renewables now with power than by hand a hundred years from now on the scramble.

      Forget Hydrogen for it takes 8 units of energy to produce 1 unit of hydrogen. Just charge the cars directly off the windmills or grid. Toshiba now has a non-explosive lithium ion polymer battery that can be 80% charged in 1 minute from dead flat. Hydrogen will be for a niche market in power supply were cost of energy is a small percentage. Biodiesel is better coming from switchgrass.

      You must be a Russian to think of floating fission power plants. That is the most dangerous idea in the world. If it sinks you will contaminate the world with the under currents. Since they are profit driven, maintainence will not be as robust as it should. This will make your land scenerio look very safe by comparison.

      Russia doesn't have a good engineering reliability record when it comes to nuclear programs. Even their military hardware is awful. Thank God they are broke and cannot mass produce junk in numbers. Norway is extremely concerned.
      • High temp KOH process can make H2 with decent eff.

        High temp/moderate pressure KOH electrolysis can produce H2 with 90 to 95% efficiency.

        Burning H2 gas in a large gas turbine/steam combined cycle plant will get you upwards of 62% of the energy converted back into electricity.

        That's probably the best energy storage system we can deploy on a large scale.. (which is suitable for most regions)..

        Biodiesel achilles heel.
        The diesel engine.. Low eff.. 28 to 35% max.

        As for Russian floating plants.. NO.. not even close.. We need something vastly superior..

        The proposal would use a large multihull ocean(40 to 80 thousand tons) going vessel with at least two multi-gigawatt reactors (Possibly breader types). (Nimitz class carriers are currently equiped with a pair of 600MWt HEU reactors).

        Electric Pod Propulsion would be capable of station keeping or providing rapid acceleration on very short notice.

        The moring points would be similar to the Loop offshore super tanker terminal. (instead of Oil.. HVDC would carry the electrical energy ashore..)

        Multple offshore floating terminals could be installed in central locations. These ships would be moved to where they're needed. (Seasonal demands..) Moved out of harms way.. (Hurricanes, tidle waves, pending war.) They would be centrally built in just a couple of ship yards with high levels of QC.

        Same goes for refuelling and overhaul. Pull up anchor and sail back to special serving shipyard designated for that purpose. (Newfoundland and labarador??) Another power ship takes it place @ moring point.

        Transport & reprocessing of spent fuel problem mostly solved. Ships would be staffed/commanded by US citizens, protected by US navy, and their electrical output could be leased to other countries. Eliminating most of the risk of nuclear proliferation while provinding a needed energy to less fortunate countries. (Ships, reactors, and all fuel byproducts remain in US hands).

        As for sinking.. The enormous mass of the ocean cools, shields, and dilutes any leakage to fairly harmless levels. There are quite a few nuclear reactors (~half a dozen) and nuclear weapons (several hundred.. mostly H-bombs) already sitting on the bottom of our oceans. Which is vastly superior alternative when compared to the contamination of earth's limited crop growing surfaces.
        • Nope, its a loss.

          And it takes energy to heat it up that high. Are you famaliar with the Bernoulli Equation? It states the universe is in entropy. All of hydrogen is produced from natural gas. Once all the hydrocarbons and uranium is depleted, it will be wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, wave and biopetroleum with niche hydrogen.

          Why convert wind to electricity to hydrogen and back to mechanical power when you can convert wind to electricity to mechanical and skip the hydrogen and its drawbacks. An electric motor over 100hp is 95%. You have to look at the overall loss cycle from wind to tires. High temperature is out and so are turbines for cars due to eff. drop off varying the throttle and deceptive acceleration causing accidents (runaway condition). Turbines are only 18% eff in the small size for cars and expensive to make. Diesels are 60% eff in the 100,000hp range and 35% for cars and trucks.

          You should check out electric cars. They are not your daddy's golf cart anymore. An interium solution would be to use turbo biodiesel/hybrid. They hardly pollute and the machines could use the existing infastructure. Electric in the city (with larger battery packs) and diesel for the road. Diesel from switchgrass.

          Nuclear power will never get out of the way of an attack due to the time needed to shove off shore. To much mass to get going. These vessles take 12 miles to stop going 25 knots.

          As for contaminations, the ocean is where life started. Most of the earths oxygen comes from the sea and the second source is the Taiga or Boreal Forest. We need to tread lightly in those places.
          • Every energy conversion step has a loss..

            The key thing is to minimize the energy losses.

            EV's were already listed as part of the initial solution.. But
            their energy storage capabilities won't be enough to compensate for our variable weather systems.

            A high temp/medium pressure KOH electrolysis process reduces the amount of electrical energy need to split H20. Additionally the process can recover thermal energy from the products to preheat the reactants.

            The proposal to generate and store H2 on large scale is to facilitate renewable energy storage on a VERY LARGE SCALE. (I.E. Don't throw away that excess renewable power generation. SAVE at least SOME of that ENERGY energy for the next rainy day/week/month/year.)

            Even the best batteries have their limitations. A 50kWh battery pack can store enough energy to travel a few hundred miles or power a typical house for a couple of days... But that's about it. Making large stationary batteries would consume too much of the available mineral resources.

            Note: H2 would displace existing NG consumption by our Oil refineries. (7 to 10% of US annual NG consumption, just to make H2).

            A Combined Cycle Gas turbine power plant is roughly as efficient as the BEST fuel cells, but CG plants are readily available in the hundred+ MW range and deals with fuel impurities that would choke a fuel cell.

            As for using nuclear power generation ships moored ~20 miles offshore.
            One can establish much larger exclusion zones..
            Min 5 miles for ships/boats.. 15 miles for aircraft. Even greater distances for known enemy combatants. Only those who are cleared can approach within the zone. )

            Missiles and planes can be shot down.
            Ships sunk, torpedoes blocked..
            A small boat is no match for a modern Gatling canon.
            First sign of hostility. The ship disconnects and set's sail for deep water/open ocean with it's escorts. Their would be other layers of defenses, I won't mention them here. A vastly superior replacement to existing nuclear power plant defenses.

            As for oxygen from the ocean, only the top layer produces O2, ~200ft, beyond than sunlight doesn't penetrate. No sunlight == no photosynthesis. No photosynthesis == no Oxygen from CO2.
            Average ocean depth 4 km or ~13,000ft.
          • That is correct

            Exactly. Eliminate the hydrogen step. Since it takes 8 units of energy to create 1 unit of hydrogen, it will be 12.5% eff if the hydrogen cycle is 100% eff over the energy food chain.

            It has been solved with lithium ion polymer batteries. The car can be fully charged in 2 hours on 220vdc and has a 300 mile range. Mass production will drop the price. So will if they make less in profit and make it up in volume (Henry Ford).

            Forget Hydrogen. It is a niche energy supply for small devices, not a society mover.

            Still promoting it. I was there once. Got to see the overall picture. Oil from shale will be very expensive and I keep hearing that. Crude has to be over $100 per barrel to be worthwhile.

            That is false. Lithium is very abundent and extremely light. It can also be recycled to keep the cost down.

            I am at the windmill stage. Beyond burning something to generate power. They have 5mw wind turbines in Germany and Denmark. Northern Germany gets 40% of their electricity from wind without interruption. It is cheap. We have 850,000 sq. mi. in this country that can produce electricity as cheap as hydro with windmills. Hydrogen? What's that?

            Naw, even if they could move quick, you will use a lot of energy. Better to transport electricity.

            Nuclear power plants cannot be penetrated by a direct hit. Besides a GPS cruise missle will take out both reactors so mobility is a waste of time.

            That is correct. And it does its job quite well. A radioactive ocean will eventually mix by currents and kill the plankton. No floaters dude.

          • Hydrogen is possible with a Nuclear economy

            You're absolutely right about Hydrogen not being practical. BUT, creating Hydrogen using intense heat from a Nuclear reactor is extremely efficient.
          • You're in need of additional education..

            "Nuclear power plants cannot be penetrated by a direct hit."

            When using a nuclear weapon, one doesn't even need to be next to the reactor. No need to penetrate anything except a few feet of dirt. Instead you'll find a large crater where the ENTIRE nuclear power plant used to be.

            As for the specifics. Sorry, you'll have to dig those up on your own. Government's have always hidden the true extent of the their vunerabilities from the public. They might be able to withstand conventional attack, but they never were intended to withstand assault by a nuclear weapon.
          • LOL, you're worried about a reactor when you just got nuked?

            Let me see, you're worried about a nuclear reactor that might release some waste from being blown up by a nuclear bomb? That's like being worried that a stick of dynamite might get set off in your house if a 2000 lb bomb landed on your roof. Someone needs a head examination.
          • Hydrogen is the latest love affair.

            Hydrogen is not a long term solution George. There is only 100 years of uranium ore let on earth until it is depleted (ceases to exist). All nuclear power will be shutdown forever unless we fire up breeder reactors from renewable sources. Why bother doing that and just use the electricity directly. Hydrogen takes 8 times the energy to make than it yields. That is not an energy supply. It is an energy sink. It would be like going after the last 2 barrels of oil in a depleted field with a spatula.
          • Re: formal education

            A direct hit means by ramming a jet liner into it. Nothing will withstand a bunker buster or a cruise missle that I all ready just said would destroy it. A nuke that goes off 1/8 from the plant and 1 mile up and it really doesn't matter. By the way, a nuclear weapon will have more fallout than a nuke plant splitting open because a nuke is detonated over 1 mile up for max dispersal of fallout and concussion damage and firestorm afterwards. I would believe the IAEA over Greenpeace and other non-profits with an ax to grind. By the way, education is a lifelong process. Try to listen to other professors in life along the way.
          • To george.. osreinstall..

            Yes, George taking out an operating fission power plant has deadly serious consequences. Each day the reactor operates, the fuel becomes progressively more deadly to humans. Roughly three 20kt fission weapons worth for each day of reactor operation(3GWt, 1GWe).

            (Note: Multistage fusion weapons are way cleaner, per KT of yield, than fission weapons.)

            Just one weapon can release all those fission nasties stored in those fuel rod assembles, effectively irradiating (via fallout) the countryside with the equivalent of several thousand fission weapons. (In some cases one plant == ten's of thousands).


            As for OS reinstall..
            You don't take out a nuclear power plant with an air burst. Air burst is for soft targets, like cities, airports, military bases, etc.
          • To truth_z

            It doesn't matter if the nuclear plant was taken out by a direct hit. The air burst would kill 100 times the lives. If the nuke hit the plant the blast radius would be much less and the number of people killed would be less. The amount of nuclear fuel in a reactor is not as great as a bomb to minimize an explosion in a run away condition (control rods stuck). However a hydrogen warhead was designed for blast radius.

            What really is ironic about your approach to nuclear power is, you would rather set it up on water for safety reasons when the potential for disaster is increased greatly. Contaminating the ocean is way worse than land since all life on earth started from the sea. Therefore it is safer on land. Anything can be targeted by GPS guided missles so there is no safe place on earth. The Germans have GPS guided artillery shells. No tank is safe anymore. Therefore no target is safe anymore. No floaters dude!
          • to osreinstall.. You need to get an education!!

            You're clueless when it comes to topics about n-weapons or fission reactors. I'll leave it at that.
          • Keep is civil falsehood.

            You are not too bright and refuted what all the experts have to say. You are the one in need of an education, desperately. Floating nuclear power was my first clue you were talking out your backside.