A Practical Implementation of Strategic Principle

December 13 2008 / by Will
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 3

Cross-posted from Where There's A William by Will Brown, with edits from the original.

I recently examined some of the strategic principles involved in advancing a position in a competitive environment, in particular in this comment exchange. I have found little opportunity to demonstrate the practice of the principles I study on this page heretofore.

Continuing on, Brian Wang of the Lifeboat Foundation, has compiled an instructive post on the recent nomination by President-elect Obama of Professor Steven Chu to the cabinet post of Energy Secretary. As Director of the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics, Secretary-nominee Chu is well versed in both the scientific realities of energy generation and distribution systems and the - quirks - of government agency operations.

I have in the past stated my thoughts on effecting a national energy strategy. While this proposal was specifically intended only to rectify the forecast US shortfall of electrical generation and distribution predicted for the next decade or so, Professor Cho is eminently qualified to judge how well it can also serve as a mechanism to bridge the country through to wide-spread construction of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors which are capable of supplying both base load as well as demand load electrical grid requirements to any level of generation capability we wish to build, whether or not options such as solar or wind grid power are further developed. 

As I am confident the Secretary-designate will point out to the President-elect, there is a sufficiency of nuclear fuel remaining, regardless of the reactor type chosen.

He is also well positioned to make clear that Molten Salt Reactors and Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors leave unspent fuel in minuscule quantities having a half-life measured over several decades. By re-processing existing spent fuel (as well as nuclear weapons material), the US would no longer need the storage facility at Yucca Mountain, unless Congress finds it economical to use it to replace existing storage facilities as they are emptied to fuel MSR and LFTR power units around the country over the next few score years.

President-elect Obama is my president too. I sincerely wish him the greatest success in leading our country through the economic and other challenges we presently confront, not to mention the other as-yet unidentified challenges that will no doubt appear during the coming four years. Mr. Obama finds himself in the politically rare position of being presented with the mechanism whereby he can effect an order-of-magnitude improvement in the existential capabilities of our country as well as initiate a resurgence of the nation's economy by the means I have identified. The same technology permits moderation of the world's potential for conflict as well, without fear of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Threats of assassination and the like (whether directed at the President-elect or more generally towards "government officials" or generic law enforcement) are largely the result of fear among the citizenry and challenge to supremacy amongst foreign elements. By such dramatic efforts to redress the employment and energy concerns of the country, Mr. Obama extends opportunity to the general populace and poses a challenge to his detractors to improve upon his efforts, thereby reducing the anxiety levels that contribute to such contemplations. By including foreign allies, he extends the pax americana in a non-conflicting fashion that further empowers other nation's leadership (political and other) to inhibit conflict with the US and among themselves. The foregoing won't guarantee peaceful results, but they will do much to ensure the nation's survival should conflict break out and work to isolate those who choose destruction over cooperation from their own potential allies.

There's my contribution to hope and change.

Comment Thread (2 Responses)

  1. Now that’s a whopper of a concluding paragraph.

    The biggest forces holding back the development of nuclear power are public will and U.S. defense / non-proliferation elements. Making the case that a secure and steady flow of nuclear power reduces the risk of popular unrest and extra-national challenges is a strong counter to the core anti-nuclear thinking, especially in the context of the current economic shift.

    As the economy worsens, the likelihood that nuclear gets pushed through will rise (it’s already gained great traction), but I’d still love to hear your expanded thoughts on The National and Global Security Benefits of LFTR Nuclear. This is a necessary direction for the discussion of near-term micro-nuclear power.

    Posted by: Alvis Brigis   December 13, 2008
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  2. You’d have to follow the links in the opening paragraph to get a better understanding of the context for the closing paragraph. Since the specific example isn’t technology or future related, I chose to ignore it for the purposes of this cross-posting. Suffice to say that there are extreme memes related to the in-coming Obama Administration developing in a variety of societal contexts and that I hope to dilute their continued advancement by emphasising the historically unusual potential for doing so that is available to the in-coming Obama Administration. I also edited out the closing claim of authorship included in the original on my own blog.

    The Hyperion Power Module is a well-covered subject so can we stipulate it’s potential benefits and non-proliferation contribution?

    The Molten Salt Reactor and Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor possess mutually supporting fuel options and results. Further stipulating that I’m neither educated in the scientific particulars nor experienced in researching them as a writer, my understanding is that MSR’s are capable of literally burning a combination of extremely radioactive uranium and plutonium derivatives, leaving a considerably reduced quantity of material to deal with. LFTR’s combine that remnant with thorium to burn in excess of 90% of the agrigate to a resultant state having an above-background-level of radioactive half-life measured in the 3 to 5 decade range. The availability of uranium at near current market terms is measured in the thousands of years of projected human usage, while the equivalent usage of thorium is in the ten’s of thousands of years. And that’s not including the stocks of weapons-grade material awaiting re-processing to fuel grade status either. If we end up glowing in the dark, it will be due to the number of lightbulbs we can afford to leave turned on, not because we have no mechanism to safely dispose of nuclear material.

    In no case can either type of reactor be utilized to enhance uranium to weapons grade status, nor is the interim resultant material especially useful as “dirty bomb” material – oddly, because it seems the product is too radioactive for such an application. Too hard to construct a reliably operable device and too hard to conceal such a device from known detection technology and proceedures during delivery.

    So, MSR’s and LFTR’s work to individually provide electric power while cleaning toxic and radiologic contaminants from the environment in tandem. The resulting residue has an extremely short-term storage requirement (by historic radioactive material standards at least) which offers some potential as a fuel source for subsequent enhanced Hyperion-type applications in future.

    I could also have completely mis-read any or all of the foregoing as well. :)

    Posted by: Will   December 13, 2008
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