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Noel Laporte

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What form of renewable energy has or will have the lowest impact on biodiversity?

Climate change, air pollution, rising sea levels and species extinction can all be attributed to the increasing usage of non-renewable energy in the world today. Non-renewable energy reserves are diminishing and finite with an ever-increasing demand from countries around the world. Coal, natural gas and oil all have detrimental effects on the environment. These effects are both local and global, harming species throughout the world. As we consider different renewable forms of energy, can we rank their potential impacts on biodiversity?

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    Apr 24 2013: I also agree with the idea of nuclear power as the next major source of energy. The terra power nuclear reactor as pointed out by noel above seems to be a promising idea. They propose a new type of reactor called the "travelling wave reactor". What i like the most about the idea is the emphasis put on the reactors impact to the environment. The website claims that 50 times more energy will be produced compared to the light water reactors of today. What i find interesting and do not quite understand is that they say that they will be using depleted uranium for power. Does anyone have a good explanation of how this could possibly be done? Probably the greatest concern for any nuclear reactor is the safety associated with it. The travelling wave reactor has incorporated safety ideas and protocols into their design that have accounted for all previous nuclear reactor accidents. What do people think about terra power? do you think it has some sort of viable future?
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      Apr 24 2013: I had never heard of terra power. I looked it up and it said that is uses a closed fuel system and is very efficient. It seems like it could be useful for a while but in the long run don't we want to stay away from depending on fuel?
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      Apr 24 2013: I think the TWR model is a great idea! There is much concern about the build-up of depleted uranium from nuclear power plants and its potential effect on the environment as well as humans. The TWR provides a way for the DU to be put to use. I found a great simplified description on how the TWR utilizes this depleted uranium. "Think of it as a very slow burning bullet. At one end of the fuel assembly is the primer, in this case a small amount of enriched U-235. Packed like gunpowder in the rest of the 'cartridge' is depleted uranium. The primer ignites the DU immediately around it and this sets off a chain reaction that propagates forward through the fuel at a rate that would take anywhere from months to decades, possibly as much as a century." There have been estimates that suggest that there is enough depleted uranium stored around the planet to provide electric power for everyone for the next millennium! The downside of this model is that it still does produce a fair bit of waste, but its about 10% less than that produced by LWRs today. Also, the waste from the enriched U-235 primer for the reactor can theoretically be used up again in the reactor without any processing!

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