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Gender: Male
Current location: New Jersey
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 28,209

Journal Archives

This phrase in a review of a technical text summarizes my personal opinion on energy.

For Christmas (shhhhh) I bought my son a text on Advanced Analysis of Variance (AANOVA), which features approaches to the Design of Experiments through statistical concepts. This type of statistical analysis, which first arose in social sciences, is increasingly important in the physical sciences, particularly in the use of experimentally validating the results of advanced simulations, as in very complex phase diagrams.

Of course, once you buy a present, you second guess it.

A review, by G. H. Lander, of the following book - which I might have considered and should certainly end up in his personal library some day - has a statement that summarizes my view of the key to save the world.

The book is this one: Elements of Slow-Neutron Scattering: Basics, Techniques, and Applications

The remark in the review is this one:

Every neutron is a good neutron.

That about sums up the hope of the world in my view.

For the record though, I'm more in love with fast neutrons, but slow neutrons are good too.

A connection between conspiracy theories and faith?

I came across this lecture by the author who questions the historical existence of Jesus, surely a controversial subject, but one on which he has an interesting commentary.

Toward the end of the lecture, there is reference to Roswell and conspiracy theories that I personally found fascinating, given our times, where he muses about what might happen to the Roswell conspiracy if society collapsed.

The lecture itself is fascinating, but this portion in 2021 seems very relevant, particularly with the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and a possible violent collapse of culture as a result. (The lecture was given in 2017.)

Messed up units in a paper on the climate impacts of raising indoor Cannabis.

I'm catching up on a journal I'm through which I'm way behind scanning, Environmental Science and Technology Letters.

In the June issue of this journal, which is how far back I am, there are three papers referring to an earlier paper, this one:

Cannabis and the Environment: What Science Tells Us and What We Still Need to Know (Ariani C. Wartenberg, Patricia A. Holden, Hekia Bodwitch, Phoebe Parker-Shames, Thomas Novotny, Thomas C. Harmon, Stephen C. Hart, Marc Beutel, Michelle Gilmore, Eunha Hoh, and Van Butsic Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2021 8 (2), 98-107)

The three papers in the June issue are a correction by the authors of the paper above, a comment from another scientist, and a response to the comment by the authors of the paper above.

From the comment, Comment on “Cannabis and the Environment: What Science Tells Us and What We Still Need to Know” (Evan Mills Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2021 8 (6), 483-485)

The authors inadvertently cite a grey literature estimate of national energy use for indoor cannabis cultivation (New Frontier Data (6)) as 4.2 MWh-y (10^6 Wh-y), lower than Mills (4) by more than six orders of magnitude. However, the source document reports 4.2 million MWh-y (10^12 Wh-y), admittedly a peculiar phrasing of units. The authors also restate that source’s estimated greenhouse gas emissions only for legal cultivation, one-quarter of the total presented therein. The remaining factor-of-three difference between these two estimates is non-trivial and merits examination.

These units Wh-y make no sense; they seem to work out to Joule-years. I have no idea what a Joule-year means.

The correction to the original paper is here: Correction to “Cannabis and the Environment: What Science Tells Us and What We Still Need to Know” (Ariani C. Wartenberg, Patricia A. Holden, Hekia Bodwitch, Phoebe Parker-Shames, Thomas Novotny, Thomas C. Harmon, Stephen C. Hart, Marc Beutel, Michelle Gilmore, Eunha Hoh, and Van Butsic, Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2021 8 (6), 482-482)

The correction paper cleans this mess up by using actual derived units of energy that break down to simple Joules, MWh.

In the second paragraph of the Energy Use section, we omitted the word “million” in our citation of the New Frontier Data report, (2) therefore reporting a total of 4.2 MWh of energy consumption rather than 4.2 million MWh of energy consumption. We further reported associated CO2 for the legal cannabis sector rather than for the combined illegal and legal sectors. These numbers should be corrected in the modified sentence: “Combined illegal cultivation and legal cultivation were estimated to consume 4.2 million MWh (or 4.2 TWh) of electricity-based energy annually, equivalent to 1.8 million tons (or approx. 1.6 million Mt) of associated electricity-based CO2 emissions.

Recently over in the E&E forum at this site, I offered a commentary on how journalists mangle units obscenely, helping to lead to the nonsense but widely held belief that the answer to climate change is a reactionary effort to return to a reliance on the weather (so called "renewable energy" ) for energy, a practice largely abandoned in the 19th century for a reason.

Many macroscale energy reports, including the World Energy Outlook put out by the IEA, use...

I'm not a fan of marijuana, in any sense, so I wonder, is everybody in this sequence stoned?. Just kidding. (Perhaps this commentary belongs in the Lounge.)

The effort to evaluate the climate impact of commercial recreational use of marijuana is a worthy one, particularly in light of all the comments on DU I've heard over the years that "the answer is hemp."

It's unfortunate that this otherwise fine and important discussion of the energy implications of recreational consumerism ended up being so sloppy.

Cool word that's new to me: "Swarf."

I came across it here: Sustainable Recycling of Rare-Earth Elements from NdFeB Magnet Swarf: Techno-Economic and Environmental Perspectives (Nighat Afroz Chowdhury, Sidi Deng, Hongyue Jin, Denis Prodius, John W. Sutherland, and Ikenna C. Nlebedim ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 2021 9 (47), 15915-15924.)

It means the chips, dust, and grinding residue of machining metals.

Cool word. I hope to find some occasion to use it someday.

Nickel oxide is literally green, which is good for your very "green" electric car that's saving...

...the world.

And the world, after all this talk, is saved, isn't it?

If one reads the scientific literature on battery technology, one hears a lot about three elements that are not lithium but are in "lithium" batteries. You know, the batteries that everyone talks about saving the world. These elements are cobalt, nickel and manganese.

Of course, the scientific literature is nowhere near as sexy as "clean"technica where bourgeois anti-nukes can worship their "green" cars and other "green" consumer stuff.


In my useless tenure here, I've sometimes expressed that I have no use for "journalists" talking about engineering and scientific topics, but irrespective of my commentary, most everybody loves journalistic accounts.

Here's a good one, from journalists, that even I found rather amusing: It's all about How Norilsk, in the Russian Arctic, became one of the most...

Norilsk is helping all the Clean Techies go "green."

From the Norilsk article:

Norilsk Nickel is the world’s leading producer of the high-purity Class 1 nickel that electric vehicle industry leaders like Tesla CEO Elon Musk are seeking.

But of course, this article isn't as cool as an article at Cleantechnica.

They love Elon over there, at Cleantechnica, where they worship his Ayn Rand inspired Howard Roarkian ass as he heads out to Texas to make himself some 'lectric cars.

In pure Susan Collins style, though, he's as "concerned" about nickel as he is about cobalt. Really. He is. He's "concerned."

We all love us some Musk here too.

It appears that 9,500,000 acres of boreal forest, close to 15,000 square miles, has been killed by, um, getting that "green" nickel.


The majority of the world's cobalt is from the "Democratic Republic" of Congo, where it's mined largely by de facto slaves. I've talked about that a lot, but I'm not sexy like a Tesla car and to be honest, I never thought all that much about nickel mining. I thought it all came from Canada. What do I know?

Interestingly the original facilities that now are responsible for the Norilsk nickel mines was built in 1942 by slave labor in Stalin's Soviet Gulag. It was more productive to work slaves to death than to shoot them straight away, although either option worked. It was all for a good cause back then, fighting Hitler. Stalin was able to beat Hitler because he managed his slaves better. But defeating Hitler was not quite as good a cause as the one Elon Musk is honorably engaged in, as he does the Collins "concern" waltz all around "green tech."

Nickel oxide is green. Really. It is.


And of course, we need those batteries to back up all those Amazonian clear cut balsa and petroleum based epoxy resins to hold together our heat treated fiberglass for our wonderful wind industry's turbine blades, because if the wind doesn't blow for weeks, we will still need to access cleantechnica.com to learn about how "green," we are, so let's pile up a few mountains of batteries to cover ourselves during Dunkelflautes.

(To see the thermodynamic losses associated with batteries, it's useful to cruise around CAISO. Yes, they have grid scale batteries in California, but it appears they haven't done doodle squat to put snow on the Sierra Nevadas.)

Something called "reality:" There is not enough cobalt and nickel on this planet to successfully make a dent in climate change - even a dent - with all this "stuff," electric cars, grid batteries, and all the other "Clean Tech" we hear about.

We're kidding ourselves. We don't have a fucking clue about how things work, and how "green" stuff is made. We only know what's "green," because we have Cleantecnica.com to have web pages devoted to the shiny stuff. Love me some of that car stuff.

If we consume, we're saving the planet, so consume, consume, consume...

And don't worry...

Be happy...

Don't worry. Be happy.

Don't worry. Be happy.

Over at Clean Technica you can always learn about how bad nuclear energy is, because well, it doesn't need batteries to work.

Not sexy, like a Tesla car.

Rather then open a science book, or - gasp - an original scientific paper, let the swell reporters at CleanTechnica tell you all you need to know about how "green" you are. As "green" as nickel oxide, that's how "green" you are. You couldn't possibly need more than that; because all you really need your electric car. Repeat after me: "I want one; I want one; I want one; I want..."

History will not forgive us, nor should it.

Dominion Estimates $10B Installation Cost for 2.6-GW Virginia Offshore Wind Farm

Dominion Estimates $10B Installation Cost for 2.6-GW Virginia Offshore Wind Farm (by Sonal Patel, Power, November 8, 2021)

Dominion Energy is revving up its efforts to build the 2.6-GW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) commercial project before 2027 to meet state requirements, it said in a detailed filing for the $9.8 billion project submitted to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) on Nov. 5.

CVOW, which will be sited on a federal lease area spanning 112,800 acres that is located 27 miles offshore Virginia, is slated to begin producing power in late 2026. If Dominion receives a final order from the SCC in the third quarter of 2022, construction on the project could kick off in 2023, documents associated with the company’s 2021 third-quarter earnings results suggest.

The filing with the SCC on Friday lays out in detail how the company plans to build the massive project, as well as parameters for its cost estimates—including contractor selection and terms—project components, transmission routing, capacity factors, and permitting.

The company had previously disclosed that Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) will be Dominion’s preferred turbine supplier for the project’s 176 14.7-MW turbines. If its plans are approved by the SCC, Charybdis will supply an offshore wind installation vessel for the project. That would mean “Virginia will host the first offshore wind turbine blade factory in the U.S. and be the home port for the only Jones Act compliant offshore wind installation vessel,” it said...

The capacity utilization of wind plants is typically below 30%, depending on the weather. This means that the plant will be the equivalent of a 780 MW reliable plant operating at or close to 100% capacity utilization.

However the 30% capacity utilization figure also includes times when the electricity is generated but not actually needed; conversely if electric demand is high and wind speeds low, it is necessary to burn gas and dump the waste CO2 directly into the planetary atmosphere.

Based on the data from the Master Data Register of Wind Turbines put out by the Danish Energy Agency, the average life time of a wind turbine is on the order of 18 years.

The 12,800 acres of disturbed benthic ecosystems amounts to about 20 square miles.

The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California produces more energy, more reliably and far more cleanly than this plant will on a facility footprint of about 12 acres. It will close owing to public foolishness after doing so for about 40 years. In a less stupid world, it would operate longer.

NERC Issues Grim Outlook for Bulk Power System Winter Reliability

NERC Issues Grim Outlook for Bulk Power System Winter Reliability (by Sonal Patel, Power, November 18, 2021.)

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) is warning that much of the central U.S.—a region that stretches from the Great Lakes into southern Texas—may face critical power deficiencies during extreme winter weather conditions over the next three months. Natural gas supply disruptions and low hydropower conditions could also imperil power reliability in New England and the West, it said.

In its Nov. 18–issued 2021–2022 Winter Reliability Assessment, the nation’s designated Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) urged generators across the U.S. to take proactive steps to prepare for an eventful winter and keep communications open with grid operators.

NERC also called on grid operators to prepare and implement cold weather operating plans, conduct drills, and poll generators for fuel and availability status. Load-serving entities should review critical loads to prevent disruptions, and regulators should support requested environmental waivers, it said.

A Cold, Hard Outlook

The ERO’s dire report echoes its May-issued summer assessment, when it warned of “elevated risks” for energy emergencies in Texas, New England, in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) territory, and parts of the West. In its bulk power system (BPS) reliability assessment for the next three months—December 2021 through February 2022—NERC suggests extreme weather risks, including soaring peak demand or generator outages that exceed forecasts, “can be expected to cause energy emergencies” in regions that have previously suffered cold-weather reliability debacles. These include MISO, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)...

No comment.

Again, I couldn't care less about absurd, obscenely stupid obsessions with Three Mile Island.

Again, I regard these obsessions in a world being destroyed by dangerous fossil fuels, with hundreds of millions dead from air pollution since 1979 because shit for brains type have wedgies over Three Mile Island as insane.

Get it? Insane. Insane. Insane. INSANE.

Do I make myself clear? No? Again, I couldn't care less.

What I'm about to say falls into the level of discussing the fact that mRNA vaccines save human lives with an anti-vax Trumper, clearly useless, because dogma based on insistent arrogant idiot faith based dogma is intractable. I'll say it nonetheless:

Despite much stupid rhetoric from people who couldn't pass a precalculus course in an underfunded school, Three Mile Island didn't kill anyone. Then President Jimmy Carter walked through the Three Mile Island reactor building during the accident, this some decades after he went into the core of the melted Chalk River reactor as a naval officer.

President Carter is among roughly 350,000 "liquidators" involved in nuclear reactor "clean ups."

He has lived the longest life of any President.

The supposition that we should spend billions of dollars to satisfy the idiot assumptions of anti-nukes that if anyone anywhere is exposed to a radionuclide because of nuclear power it's a tragedy - this on a planet where we won't spend any money at all to provide basic sanitary services to the billions of people on this planet who lack access to even primitive sanitary facilities - is criminal.

The idea is that we need to clean up Three Mile Island to a risk standard that no fucking normally operated coal plant could ever meet, even after the expenditure of trillions of dollars, that no normally operated gas plant could meet for the same expenditure, that no fucking normally operated wind plant could meet, is beneath contempt.

The basis for this nonsensical waste of money is wholly dependent on the dubious, unproven, and possibly even fraudulent "linear no threshold" (LNT) model for the effects of radiation, this despite that the potassium essential to all living tissue is radioactive. This ideology, again, kills people, on a scale of millions, tens of millions, over time, hundreds of millions of human beings. The fact that anti-nukes, including the very annoying and disingenuous anti-nukes who run around saying "I'm not an anti-nuke" while serving up meaningless anti-nuke rhetoric, that again, to repeat again and again kills people by promoting ignorance and hysteria, um, bothers me, to be sure, but there's nothing more I can do to make anti-nukes be, informed, rational, knowledgeable, and frankly remotely ethical or intelligent. They clearly can be none of those things.

Now, if some asshole wants to carry on about how Flo from Progressive won't bundle nuclear plant insurance along with car and boat insurance, or if Geico can save you 15% or more on all insurance except nuclear plant insurance, or that Liberty makes sure that you only pay for what you need except if you want nuclear plant insurance, there's nothing I can do about it.

They've been carrying on about insurance and Three Mile Island for the entire 19 years I've been suffering this insipid argument here at DU. Meanwhile, in that 19 years, between 110 million people and 130 million people died from air pollution according to the Lancet references I have been posting here time and time and time again, only to hear the same ridiculous arguments flung back at me.

As I wind down from discussing hard science and environmental issues on DU, I've taken the liberty of removing some of the most egregious and toxic anti-nukes from my ignore list, because I need to remind myself of exactly how futile a remotely intelligent discussion with any of these awful people would be.

Recently, an "I'm not an anti-nuke" antinuke offered the same kind of disingenuous claims as the present company, this with a dubious pronouncement that I should not flip off him or her. This was after posting in one of my threads pictures that had the same quality and fact checking as a World Weekly News headline:

A Minor Problem For Sound Science of the Effect of Offshore Windfarms on Seabirds: There Isn't Any. Post #9.

When I started writing here in late November of 2002, the concentration of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide in the planetary atmosphere was 372.68 ppm as recorded at the Mauna Loa CO2 observatory. The most recent data point at the observatory was 414.88 ppm. In the week of April 25, 2021 the reading hit 420.01 ppm. In the spreadsheet I keep of Mauna Loa Observatory data, the 52 week running average of increases over ten year periods during the week I joined DU was 18.00 ppm/10 years = 1.80 ppm/year. As of last weekly data point (week beginning 11/14/2021) the same average was 24.52 ppm/10 years = 2.45 ppm/year.

Recently I updated the expenditure on so called "renewable energy" as we happily run along trashing huge stretches of wilderness, rendering them into industrial parks to serve the clearly failed rhetoric of anti-nukes.

Source: UNEP/Bloomberg: Global Trends in Renewable Energy.

I manually entered the figures in the bar graph in figure 8 to see how much money we've thrown at this destructive affectation since 2004 (up to 2019): It works out to 3.2633 trillion dollars, more than President Biden has wisely recommended for the improvement of all infrastructure in the entire United States.

The result, as recorded at Mauna Loa's CO2 observatory are clear enough. The degradation of the planetary atmosphere resulting from appeals to ignorance and wishful thinking is accelerating, not decelerating.

Over Thanksgiving dinner, I had a discussion with my son about the Breit-Wigner formulation of neutron capture cross sections. It was infinitely more intelligent and frankly worthwhile than listening, yet again, to fucking idiotic blather about Three Mile Island.

Which conversation is worthy of addressing the crisis before humanity? Rehashing stupid shit about spending billions of dollars to satisfy a collection of idiots concerned about a few radioactive atoms escaping from Three Mile Island or engaging a highly educated young man on the subject of neutron dynamics in a nuclear plant?

For the record: I've driven through Harrisburg many times; it's not all that far from where I live. It's still there. The people living there are living useful productive lives.

Meanwhile ignorance kills people, millions of people worldwide in the Covid case, tens of millions, hundreds of millions worldwide in the anti-nuke case. In my opinion they are exactly the same kind of ignorance.

But anyway, here's what I said to the other, "I'm not an anti-nuke" antinuke, and it applies here and now in this context:

You know, quacks like a duck, has feathers like a duck, waddles like a duck, it's a duck.

Let me say it again: I'm not interested. I don't stay up at night reading through your every utterance to see what you did and didn't say, because, again, I couldn't care less. Most of the time you're on my "ignore list." OK? I've seen enough to form as much of an opinion as I am willing to form.

What exactly is it that you want from me? I couldn't possibly be as interesting as the cartoons over in the "Nuclear Free" group. Hang out over there. They're fun. I'm not. I'm too damned bloody serious. I give more of a shit about climate change more than I do about clowns.

Why do I fucking bother? You won. The world has sunk trillions of dollars more on wind turbines and solar cells in this century than it did on nuclear reactors. Why can't you just be happy with all that winning? You won...420 ppm. Congratulations!

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Let me repeat that:

You won: We spent vast sums of more money on so called "renewable energy" than we did on nuclear energy, including the money squandered to "clean up" Three Mile Island to a ridiculous risk standard that we apply to nothing else, a risk standard set by dumb shit for brains anti-nukes

We hit 420 ppm concentrations of the dangerous fossil fuel waste CO2 in the atmosphere in 2021, less than 10 years after hitting 400 ppm. We are absolutely sure to exceed 422 ppm in 2022.

You won.

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

Enjoy the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend.

The United Nations 2021 Report on Life Cycle Analysis for Electricity Generation.

It's here: Life Cycle Assessment of Electricity Generation Options

Of course, this topic, life cycle analysis, is covered extensively in the scientific literature, which few people who shout loudly (as if they know something) about energy and the environment actually read.

This report however is nice, because it has all sorts of charts and graphs and summarizes things quite well.

It is interesting to compare the carbon cost of the options. One of the conceits of the so called "renewable energy" option is that the costs of intermittency are never included, for instance, the LCA of solar should include the cost of dangerous natural gas burned at night, because every damned night episodes of darkness occur.

This report excludes that, but it does have a nice evaluation of the cost of the big "let's mine all the world's cobalt using poor people to dig it for low or no pay" battery fantasy. It's ugly.

Another thing that's interesting is the comparison between solar PV and nuclear energy on toxicity. The toxicity risk (expressed as a unit "CTUh," "comparative toxicity units" ) associated with solar PV is between a factor of 3 to 6 more toxic than nuclear. Nuclear is roughly comparable to wind, and slightly worse than hydro, although we are fresh out of fresh water rivers to destroy. Of course, toxicity is only one issue, neither solar, nor wind, nor hydro can compare to nuclear on land use, an important component of climate change, and none of these match nuclear's carbon cost. (cf. Figure 41 in the report.)

I would note that much of the carbon cost attributed to nuclear energy - which is even without energy storage, which it actually doesn't need and is, in any case, lower than all other forms of energy - is attributed to mining and enrichment. I argue that neither are necessary, at least for several centuries, in "breed and burn" systems, given the uranium and thorium already mined, and in the latter case dumped from ores used to provide neodymium and dysprosium for redundant generators for wind turbines and gas plants. I will discuss this topic with my son over Thanksgiving Dinner, as he applies to Ph.D. programs in nuclear engineering. It will certainly be more useful to talk to him than it is to post long discussions of scientific punctilios on DU.

Nuclear energy is already better than everything else, but it can be even better, via heat networks and the recovery of valuable materials from used nuclear fuels. These are the topics I wish to discuss with my son, and about which I will write him, getting as much in as possible before I die.

Anyone who reads this report seriously, or even looks at the pictures seriously, would be compelled to agree, in my view, that opposing nuclear energy is insane, the climate change equivalent of being an antivaxxer in the time of Covid.

Of course, many people are insane; it's fashionable in these times to be so, in one way or another, but an undercurrent of popular insanity has always been there. We are paying for it, not only with a destroyed environment, but in many other ways.

As I approach the end of my life the thing that stuns me the most is the realization of how much we want to lie to ourselves.

Enjoy the holidays.

Salt Creek II

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