Monday, February 23, 2009

Using Nuclear Power (Errr... Thermal Batteries;)) to Bake Tar Sands

It's called "Mordor of the North:" a vast environmental holocaust larger than Florida, stripped of forests, scarred from mining, with polluted "seas" that place Down Chemical high on Patrick Moore's best environmental stewards list. But since we're too lazy to got back to 19th century farming, and with renewals still out of reach for a bit, we regrettably have no choice but to rely on the blood of the earth - even if... sometimes, and tragically, that mean literally beating that blood out of Mother Nature's face.

Vast amounts of natural gas are required during tar sands' separation process, where water is superheated into steam to separate the bitum; egg heads grind gears day and night researching improved/alternative methods to reduce costs.

Hyperion has floated this idea: use a hot-tub sized nuclear generator, placed underground, to power the process to sip oil out of tar sands, displacing the need to transport and burn natural gas.

Excerpt found below:

Yeah, it’s an unusual target market — and Hyperion is an unusual company. Hyperion claims that those mining an average oil field could save as much as $2 billion a year if they used the company’s technology instead of natural gas to power the process. Oil fields are also remote locations, where the costs of transporting fuel for power cut into the bottom line.

Tar sands developers, like the military, which Hyperion is also targeting, could also be, for lack of a better word, less squeamish about controversial forms of power — the industry is already routinely the target of attack by environmentalists.
But Hyperion also appears to be trying to distance its marketing from the “nuclear” elephant in the room. The term nuclear does not appear once on its latest news release — surprising, given it’s the crux of the technology. Instead it’s using terms like “thermal battery,” explaining the module as one that utilizes the “energy of low-enriched uranium fuel.” We figure anyone who’s going to plunk down $25 million for the device would figure it out.

Deliveries are expected to hit 2014, pushed back from 2013.

Some will undoubtedly find this controversial, but Canadian tar sand extraction and processing is already controversial enough. Wouldn't we rather use nuclear power - which commits no greenhouse emissions, and has plenty of uranium at disposal (this is Canada) - for tar sand processing over natural gas, which does contribute CO2 emissions and is in finite (though ludicrous) quantities? Smell the air of "Modor of the North," wither your lungs like Golem, decide for yourself.

- Brewskie

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