Plan for United States to Transition Away From Fossil Fuels Before the End of the Fossil Fuel Era on Earth
Define the problem:
- According to a Google search performed the proven reserves of coal can be expected to last between 110 years and 150 years at the current rate of production depending on the date the google search was done and the proven reserves of oil can be expected to last 50 years at the current rate of extraction. According to worldometers.info their are approximately 7.47 billion humans currently on Earth growing at a rate of 1.13 percent per year, using a finical calculator I have determined that in the year 2055 their will likely be 11.44 billion humans on Earth. Coal reserves will not last between 110 and 150 years because the rate of extraction will accelerate, as the world's population of living members of the human species grow the demand for electricity will result in more power plants which generate electricity by making use of heat created as the result of burning coal being constructed in most nation states in addition to nation states which are building more power plants to bring the standard of living enjoyed by most citizens who reside within the borders of their nations closer to the standard of living enjoyed within the United States, and as oil reserves become depleted industrial facilities that convert coal into a transportation fuel will place further pressure on coal reserves. Between the year 2055 and the year 2110 there will be a sharp shortfall in the availability of fossil fuels if the current growth rates in the total number of living members of the human species continues without a reduction in the total number of living members of the human species on Earth taking place resulting in failure of nations that are dependent on fossil fuels to operate their electrical, industrial, and transportation infrastructures resulting in the death of most individuals who live in those nations. When over half of the nations on Earth are no longer capable of supplying electricity to half of their electrical infrastructure by using methods of creating electricity that are dependent on burning things such as coal and natural gas the fossil fuel era on Earth will be drawing to a close.
Define solution for the United States:
- For the United States to survive past the end of the fossil fuel era the United States will need to transition away from using power plants which require fossil fuels prior to fossil fuels becoming unavailable. In order for the United States to manage a successful transition away from fossil fuels the United States will need to develop the ability to mass produce power plants which generate electricity utilizing heat produced by atomic fission which are not likely to melt down in the event the power plants are hit by military ordnance in a manner likely to lead to large regions of land becoming uninhabitable which can be can be rapidly deployed across the United States. For a power plant which used heat produced as the result of atomic fission to be rapidly deployed the plant will need to be manufactured in modules small enough to be transported by truck as a number of oversize loads then assembled onsite by construction crews, the only fabrication and welding work that should be required is the welding and fabrication of connecting piping between individual modules of the power plans which utilize atomic fission to generate electricity. For example the reactor pressure vessel of future power plants which utilized atomic fission to generate electricity should be a single module small enough to be transportable by truck as an oversize load, the practical limit on size of items which can be transported by truck as an oversize load is around 18 feet tall and 20 feet wide, and under 80 feet long with a weight limit of around 500 tons (loads weighing up to 900 tones have been moved by truck in the United States).
- The construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants will first call for research and development of smaller nuclear power plants than we now employ, the industry name for such plants is SMRs (Small Modular Reactors). The Department of Energy of the United States should have the budget allocation from the United States Congress and the regulatory freedom to contract the construction of modular nuclear power plants from nuclear power plant vendors that have already designed SMRs (Small Modular Reactors) in which all the major power plant components could be transported to location via a number of oversized truck loads. Upon completion of evaluation for mass production and adoption across the United States to include operating the experimental power plants in a effort to determine design defaults and improvements to the design that need to be made prior to mass production, upon completion of evaluation one or two of the designs should be selected by the Department of Energy for further review to include construction and evaluation of additional revisions of the SMRs (Small Modular Reactors) with the objective of ending up with a mass producible nuclear reactor which can run for a decade on a single fuel cycle and produce up to 200 megawatts of electricity, and be transportable from manufacturing plants to a construction site as oversized truck loads. The nuclear power plants should be designed for operation with a much longer fuel cycle than our current commercial light water nuclear reactor which have a fuel cycle around one and a half years, a small reactor core with a thorium blanket should facilitate a nuclear reactor with a extended fuel cycle. Ideally the next generation of nuclear power plants should be designed to ensure that in the event of a melt down of the reactor that the reactor fails in a predictable manner that does not result in a widespread environmental mess such as the China syndrome, but instead fails in a manner in which part of the nuclear fuel pools in the bottom of the reactor vessel leaving the rest of the nuclear fuel in a configuration that is not fissionable without the fuel that pooled in the bottom of the reactor being in the reactor core. Additionally the sites for the new nuclear power plants should be built to minimize the amount of effort to clean up a reactor that melts down, for instance the area directly below the reactor should be a open space with a floor sloping away from the reactor constructed of concrete with a ceramic liner that would allow any melted medals to run and solidify in a manner that would not leave the medals in a fissionable configuration.
- For constructing thousands of new nuclear power plants a large manufacturing facility will need to be constructed somewhere in the United States, preferably at the same location as the experimental power plants so that the manufacturing facility can operate off the electricity produced by the experimental power plants. The manufacturing facility should be able to smelt metals, poor metal castings for the reactor vessels and other major components of the nuclear power plants, plus handle all the milling, fabrication and assembly of the components for the nuclear power plants. To replace the power plants in the United States that generate electricity using fossil fuels with nuclear power plants before fossil fuels start becoming rare the manufacturing facilities will need to be able to produce at least a nuclear power plant a day prior to the year 2050. If the manufacturing facility is going to be constructed by a private vendor then the United States Congress should arrange for favorable funding conditions contingent on power plants sales prior to repayment of debt as a means of easing regulatory fears.
- Needless to say the thousands of nuclear power plants that will be required to eventually replace our current power plants that use fossil fuels will need a supply of fissionable fuels, fortunately we have a vast supply of spent nuclear fuel rods at most of our nuclear power plants that can be recycled. While research and development is ongoing the Department of Energy of the United States should ether construct a facility or subcontract the construction of a facility for reprocessing used nuclear fuels, security at any facility that reprocesses spent nuclear fuels should be handled by the United States Marine Corps due to the amounts of plutonium present in spent fuel rods and the United States Marine Corps experience in securing the United States Navy's nuclear weapons.
Long Term Outlook for Civilizations on Earth
- UNLIKE IN THE PAST THE GREATEST RISK FACTOR FOR MOST CIVILIZATIONS ON EARTH IS FAILURE DUE TO INABILITY TO OPERATE THE CIVILIZATION OWN INDUSTRIAL INFRASTRUCTURES DUE TO A CONDITION RESULTING FROM BOTH FOSSIL FUEL DEPLETION (A CRITICAL RAW MATERIAL) ON EARTH AND RELIANCE ON FOSSIL FUELS TO GENERATE ELECTRICITY FOR INDUSTRIAL INFRASTRUCTURES, WITHIN 100 YEARS THE ONLY CIVILIZATIONS ON EARTH WITH A WORKING INDUSTRIAL INFRASTRUCTURE WILL BE CIVILIZATIONS THAT ARE ABLE TO GENERATE ALMOST ALL OF THE ELECTRICITY NECESSARY TO OPERATE THEIR INDUSTRIAL INFRASTRUCTURES WITHOUT DEPENDENCE ON FOSSIL FUELS FOR THE PURPOSE OF CREATING ELECTRICITY FOR THEIR INDUSTRIAL INFRASTRUCTURES.
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