Mr.Donald J. Trump,
You have no doubt heard of the pollution issues plaguing our world, whether it’s soot, fine particles or global warming (which is real, sorry, look at the amount of evidence, but it may not be entirely our fault, but that's not what this is about) stemming from the burning of fossil fuels for power, now, there are multiple ways to generate power, aside from fossil fuels such as: hydroelectric dams, solar panels, wind farms, and nuclear plants. The last one is what I will focus on, and prove it’s superiority over all the other ones above, and fossil fuels.
Now nuclear power is a very controversial topic, mostly because of the few nuclear accidents that have occurred, however, only one, Chernobyl, has ever killed anyone;(people died in the fukushima accident because of the tsunami, not the reactor getting destroyed, besides, you cannot build a nuclear reactor, or almost any human-made structure to withstand a tsunami) it was not the fault of the idea, but rather the fault of poor Soviet engineering. The reactor was designed/built poorly. There are two types of nuclear power, fission and fusion, the first is what we will talk about here, as fusion is a bit of a ways away (but it’s better than everything, not even the Green Party can argue with that). The conventional fission reactor uses rods of uranium or other elements, such as plutonium inserted into water, the heat from the fission boils the water, and the steam is used to run a generator, then condensed and sent back into the reactor to be used again.
Now a common issue with nuclear reactors is the waste, but there is more than one type of nuclear reactor, the first ones, appropriately called Gen-1s, like all reactors produce waste, however more recent reactors, called Gen-4s can use said waste as fuels, they also produce waste which is in turn acceptable fuel for a Gen-1 reactor, the waste of which can be used as fuel for a Gen-4 reactor, the waste of which…
I think you get the idea.
Eventually you would run out of fuel, as some mass is actually turned into energy and not all of the waste can be used (some of it is actually stable elements, like lead) but the end result is a lot less waste and a lot more power. Now, about that unusable waste…
RTGs are amazing, we’ve been using them to power spacecraft for ages, ie the Curiosity rover. RTG stands for radioisotope-thermoelectric generator, it’s a mouthful of a word and a wonder of a device. You take a bunch of nuclear waste so violently radioactive that is gives off heat, pack it into a pellet or bar, press thermocouples (a wonderful device that transforms heat directly into electric current) against it, give it radiation shields and cable to get the electricity out and PRESTO! Free power for decades to centuries. With recent advances in thermocouples and experiments showing ways to make the waste better at it’s job, RTG efficiency can go up by 25%, a huge improvement. Eventually that waste will decay into lead, which can be taken out and used for more radiation shielding or what have you.
In the 1950s two clever engineers by the names of Alvin Weinberg and Eugene Wigner designed a type of reactor called the MSR, or molten salt reactor, where the fuel and the coolant are mixed with each other, as the fission heats the fuel/coolant, the density goes down, and as a result the fission slows down and it cools, as it cools the fission starts up again as the the density goes down, and the process repeats, no more meltdowns, not just because these two were geniuses but the basic laws of physics regarding heat and density prevent the reaction from going out of control and melting down. Also, they cost about one third as much.
Now to clear up some myths. A meltdown is not a nuclear explosion, (that’s not even possible with a reactor, the critical mass needed to have a nuclear explosion is too spread out and in the wrong shape) that is something anti-nuclear people like to parpetuate, but it’s not true, a meltdown is when the reaction gets so out of control it vaporizes the water and heats the steam until it melts the containment dome or gets so pressurized that it cracks the containment dome, releasing the pressure and spraying the fuel pellets from the rods everywhere, along with the radioactive isotopes created by the neutrons flying about, however this cannot happen in a properly maintained and designed reactor. The “explosion” is a the release of this super-hot steam. Now, reactors do not leak, that is the entire point of the containment dome (sometimes domes) and multiple redundancies in the water/steam piping. Our nuclear waste does occasionally leak, but that is due to inadequate maintenance and/or poor design of the containers, that needs to be cracked down on. Additionally nuclear power does not perpetuate the existence of nuclear weapons, thousands of warheads have actually been broken down to provide uranium and plutonium for reactors, so they are actively assisting with the nuclear nonproliferation agreement.
You may now be thinking “sure, nuclear power is great, but what about solar and wind?”
According to The Energy Reality Project.com providing for the current power needs of the United States with a combination of wind and solar power would take about $29-30 trillion. If we did 100% solar power it could be cut down to $18 trillion. But these ignore an important factor, land.
The wind solar hybrid would take up a total area equal to about the entire state of Indiana, the pure solar would take up space equaling the area of West Virginia. Now for the nuclear statistics.
With conventional nuclear reactors (the uranium rods ones from paragraph 2) it would cost about...
Are you ready?
And a total land area equal to about 1.5 central parks. But wait there’s more!
With those wonderful Molten salt reactors we talked about earlier it would take about the same amount of land, but only $1 trillion. To power the entire United States. A massive improvement on the conventional nuclear reactors, with were already a huge improvement over wind and solar power.
Another point frequently brought up by anti-nuclear supporters is that eventually we will run out of uranium/thorium/plutonium/whatever-we-figure-out-how-to-use-next, the semi-infinite loop brought up with Gen-1s and Gen-4s would help but yes, eventually we would run out. But how long would it take?
According to the Scientific American.com Earth’s urainium supplies could last us another 200 years, but that's just counting uranium, not the other radioactive elements we have figured out how to use. we can also make plutonium, which can be used as reactor fuel, in what’s called a breeder reactor.
But let's say that none of that happens and we have 200 years of fission nuclear power left
But what would happen in 200 years of technological progress?
Given that now the current timeline for sustainable fusion is that’s it’s 10-20 years out (as always, the joke goes.) but it seems reasonable to assume that if 200 years have gone by, we will have figured out fusion, making all other discovered power sources completely obsolete, including fission nuclear power. Thus running out of fuel is not a problem.
So now Mr.Trump, as President with your political party having a majority of the House and the Senate, you are in a position to get stuff done, I suggest that you make this high on your priorities list and veto anything anti-nuclear pushed through congress, and get have whoever you put in charge of the DOE read this (if you are the secretary of the DOE, thanks for reading this, please get more nuclear plants built), and pass some executive orders to make this easier, ignore the Green Party and smite their lies with scientific facts and discredit them. I hope now, Mr. President, that you take my advice and put it to good use.