Oncethrough reactors using uranium from the ground

A once-through one-gigawatt nuclear power station uses 162 tons per year of uranium. So the known mineable resources of uranium, shared between 6 billion people, would last for 1000 years if we produced nuclear power at a rate of 0.55 kWh per day per person. This sustainable rate is the output of just 136 nuclear power stations, and is half of today's nuclear power production. It's very possible this is an underestimate of uranium's potential, since, as there is not yet a uranium shortage, there is no incentive for million tons

Australia

1.14

Kazakhstan

0.82

Canada

0.44

USA

0.34

South Africa

0.34

Namibia

0.28

Brazil

0.28

Russian Federation

0.17

Uzbekistan

0.12

World total

(conventional reserves

in the ground)

4.7

Phosphate deposits

22

Seawater

4500

Table 24.2. Known recoverable resources of uranium. The top part of the table shows the "reasonable assured resources" and "inferred resources," at cost less than $130 per kg of uranium, as of 1 Jan 2005. These are the estimated resources in areas where exploration has taken place. There's also 1.3 million tons of depleted uranium sitting around in stockpiles, a by-product of previous uranium activities.

Table 24.2. Known recoverable resources of uranium. The top part of the table shows the "reasonable assured resources" and "inferred resources," at cost less than $130 per kg of uranium, as of 1 Jan 2005. These are the estimated resources in areas where exploration has taken place. There's also 1.3 million tons of depleted uranium sitting around in stockpiles, a by-product of previous uranium activities.

Figure 24.3. Workers push uranium slugs into the X-10 Graphite Reactor.

exploration and little uranium exploration has been undertaken since the 1980s; so maybe more mineable uranium will be discovered. Indeed, one paper published in 1980 estimated that the low-grade uranium resource is more than 1000 times greater than the 27 million tons we just assumed.

Could our current once-through use of mined uranium be sustainable? It's hard to say, since there is such uncertainty about the result of future exploration. Certainly at today's rate of consumption, once-through reactors could keep going for hundreds of years. But if we wanted to crank up nuclear power 40-fold worldwide, in order to get off fossil fuels and to allow standards of living to rise, we might worry that once-through reactors are not a sustainable technology.

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Renewable Energy Eco Friendly

Renewable Energy Eco Friendly

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable.

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