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The Almighty Buck Power

Transatomic Power Receives Seed Funding From Founders Fund Science 143

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up dept.
pmaccabe writes "The company aiming to make a Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor(WAMSR) is now getting $2 million from the venture capital firm Founders Fund. From the article: "The Founders Fund is the firm behind some of the more successful Internet startups out there including Facebook, Yammer and Spotify, but also some science-focused companies such as Climate Corporation, Space-X and satellite startup Planet Labs. The fund, which was created by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and his partners, promotes this manifesto: 'we wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.'”
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Transatomic Power Receives Seed Funding From Founders Fund Science

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  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @09:15PM (#47619455)
    Getting the technology is relatively simple. Getting government permission to build it might be a bit harder...
  • by fractoid (1076465) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @09:19PM (#47619485) Homepage
    The problem here is that decades of bad press for nuclear power have resulted in almost insurmountable political opposition even when it's clearly a technically superior solution to a whole bunch of problems.
  • by Chas (5144) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @09:45PM (#47619607) Homepage Journal

    The thing is, the realities of Chernobyl and Fukushima are the realities of ancient, outdated equipment, bad design and unsound engineering. Oh, and human stupidity in playing with dangerous things.

    The fact is, we can build reactors that don't blow up NOW.

    But people are so conditioned to nuclear = BOMB! that a bunch of know-nothing, luddite politicians and cronies are never going to let it happen.

    All because stupid people are scared and conditioned to outbreed smart people.

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @10:52PM (#47619929)

    Getting the technology is relatively simple. Getting government permission to build it might be a bit harder...

    Getting permission for an unconventional commercial reactor is hard. Permission to build a small research reactor is much easier.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @11:41PM (#47620095)

    You're an ass

  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Wednesday August 06, 2014 @11:57PM (#47620149) Journal

    Fukushima's failure had less to do with any outdated technology than the "human stupidity" in placing backup generators in the basement rather than atop a hill

    Fukushima's failure was due to technology in that it relied on continuous power to provide essential cooling even after the reactor was powered off. Even putting the emergency generators on a hill would not help if, instead of a tsunami, the hillside they were on collapsed due to the earthquake. You would then be arguing that it was 'human stupidity' to put all the generators on a hill instead of in a basement. For me the 'human stupidity' factor was that they did not insist on flying in backup generators as a number one priority after the tsunami. However I would also argue that the technology itself is also flawed since it requires continuous cooling even after the reactor is subcritical.

  • by Chas (5144) on Thursday August 07, 2014 @12:43AM (#47620361) Homepage Journal

    Actually, had the seawall been built to proper specs, there's every possibility that the onsite generators would NOT have been swamped and Fukushima could have shut down in a controlled manner.

  • by Chas (5144) on Thursday August 07, 2014 @12:55AM (#47620407) Homepage Journal

    40 years ago there were people just like you saying how perfectly safe nuclear power is.

    No, 40 years ago, people (but not like me) were saying how perfectly safe it is.

    Because they were relying on complex rube-goldberg devices that were supposed to anticipate any and every problem that could come up in a solid fuel reactor and deal with it.
    We all know how well that works when you throw something it was NOT designed to handle at it.

    The reason MSRs are a better technology is that they're actually relying on very SIMPLE engineering principles to generate safety. You remove the fuel from the reactor chamber, via simple gravity feed. The reaction shuts down. Done. Sure, you have to clean up your dump and fill tanks after an event. but you are never in a situation where loss of power leads to a runaway reactor and high pressure steam blowing things up.

    I'm not saying nuclear is "safe". There's no such THING as "safe". But coal isn't safe. Oil isn't safe. Natural gas isn't safe. Wind isn't safe. Wave isn't safe. Solar isn't safe. Hydro isn't safe. All of them come with their own risks and tradeoffs.

    The reason we have the shitty nuclear infrastructure we have now is some jackass politicoes (not scientists and engineers) essentially PICKED a winner 50-ish years ago because they had a budding industry, and wanted to protect it.

    It is entirely reasonable for normal people to believe in the principle of "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me."

    If that's all that was happening, that'd be fine.

    Self-righteous technocratic arrogance is a pretty strong predictor for failure.

    Only to people who don't know what they're talking about. The whole notion that someone's too smart and therefore arrogant and therefore bound for a fall. It's a very popular luddite meme. But that's all it is. A meme.

    If you want to undo the damage done by your idealogical fore-bearers then the last thing you should be doing is calling people stupid because, in the entire history of mankind, that has never even once been a successful argument.

    Sorry, but political correctness isn't going to help this situation. All it does is hand idiots a bunch of tools to use to shut down useful discussion because, somehow, they twist it around into offense.

    I'm not saying you have to LIKE what I'm saying. Nor do you have to AGREE with what I'm saying.

    But, if you ACTUALLY think the way forward is with wind, wave, hydro and solar backed by minimal/no non-renewables like coal/oil/NG, as opposed to nuclear, backed by solar, wind, wave and hydro? You're an idiot with no grasp of the actual power requirements for this country going into the next several centuries. An idiot who is hell-bent creating an artificial (and totally unnecessary) scarcity of the most costly possible power.

    In the face of something like that, I refuse to "make nice".

  • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday August 07, 2014 @07:26AM (#47621663)

    And a 9.0 earthquake is NOT a "routine event".

    Maybe not routine but certainly expected. An earthquake of magnitude 8 or greater occurs on average about once a year somewhere in the world. In a location like Japan it is not merely possible, it is almost certain to occur eventually. Over 80% of the largest earthquakes occur somewhere along the Pacific Rim. Anyone who is surprised that a magnitude 9 earthquake struck near Japan is an imbecile.

    The largest nuke mankind has ever set off was 50 megatons. So strap 9 of those bad boys together and that's what you're trying to engineer against. Ask an actual engineer about the logistics of building for something like that.

    Well I am an actual engineer. Nobody promised it would be easy. Want to build something dangerous? Better plan for some worst case events. If you can't deal with a natural disaster that was as predictable as a big earthquake/tsunami in Japan then perhaps the activity isn't such a good idea.

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