Mini nuclear plants — order now!

Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes

£13m shed-size reactors will be delivered by lorry

Other companies are known to be designing micro-reactors. Toshiba has been testing 200KW reactors measuring roughly six metres by two metres. Designed to fuel smaller numbers of homes for longer, they could power a single building for up to 40 years.

Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb.

The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.

The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. ‘Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world,’ said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. ‘They will cost approximately $25m [£13m] each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $250 per home.’

Deal claims to have more than 100 firm orders, largely from the oil and electricity industries, but says the company is also targeting developing countries and isolated communities. ‘It’s leapfrog technology,’ he said.

The company plans to set up three factories to produce 4,000 plants between 2013 and 2023. ‘We already have a pipeline for 100 reactors, and we are taking our time to tool up to mass-produce this reactor.’

The first confirmed order came from TES, a Czech infrastructure company specialising in water plants and power plants. ‘They ordered six units and optioned a further 12. We are very sure of their capability to purchase,’ said Deal. The first one, he said, would be installed in Romania. ‘We now have a six-year waiting list. We are in talks with developers in the Cayman Islands, Panama and the Bahamas.’

The reactors, only a few metres in diameter, will be delivered on the back of a lorry to be buried underground. They must be refuelled every 7 to 10 years. Because the reactor is based on a 50-year-old design that has proved safe for students to use, few countries are expected to object to plants on their territory. An application to build the plants will be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission next year.

‘You could never have a Chernobyl-type event – there are no moving parts,’ said Deal. ‘You would need nation-state resources in order to enrich our uranium. Temperature-wise it’s too hot to handle. It would be like stealing a barbecue with your bare hands.’

Unbelievable.

Where’s the paragraph that explains what they’ll do with the nuclear waste?

Solar thermal generator prototype

The evolution of the SolGen Project and the process of generating steam power from sunlight.  

From Coast:

Tonight’s guest, Sir Charles Shults, sent us images and videos related to his solar power energy research, dubbed “The SolGen Project.”

Shults standing next to the prototype single-lens unit.

The complete system, utilizing ten lenses.

I just did a TON of reading at http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Charles_Shults%27_Fresnel_Solar_Design, including the discussion and various links. 

One of the issues is SAFETY. 

I’ll have to post some pics of my FAILED hot water system last summer.  You should have heard the sound of it busting.

I’ve also heard that batteries are quite dangerous.

Water heaters.

GAS appliances and gas lines of all sorts!  I’ve got some personal experiences with lines leaking a year after they were tested.

Electricity! Many houses burn down due to electric fires and people burn to death.

Wood stoves – many insurers won’t insure if you have one in your house.

Of course I don’t want the lense to set fire to my roof.

Hopefully it won’t be too difficult preventing that.  And if I had any kids, I’d tell them not to play on the roof so they won’t get burned. 

Most important to me is that it’s working, there’s a prototype and once I have the cash, I can hopefully buy one.

Sure, there will be improvements and enhancements over time, but I’d rather take the prototype NOW than wait another umpteen years.

I noticed the http://peswiki.com/index.php/Congress:Top_100_Technologies_–_RD

A prioritized listing by the New Energy Congress of the very best clean energy technologies according to ten criteria including: renewable, environmentally friendly, affordable, credible, reliable, developed, safe, and not encumbered by politics of science.

After a quick look I didn’t see anything in the top 20 I could order. Will have to look at the Solarcubes in more detail, but noticed an 8 months delay there too.

LED light bulbs – I should order one to try it

Today I saw the link to http://led.section9tech.com/ – featuring LED bulbs.

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So I did some searching, trying to find reviews.

Incandescent vs. CFL vs. LED Light Bulb Challenge

In the comments are many links that don’t work, but here is a good one:

http://lumenstarled.com/ – at over $50 a piece, I have to pass.

At $20 as at Section9, that’s a lot more affordable, although still very high.

Right now I’m just using my 12 v system and 12 v light.  But my new batteries are ready to be picked up in Vegas and I could use a few of these bulbs once my main system is up and running.  Wonder how much light you actually get with this LED bulb.  The 12 v light is a little dim for filing paper.

I’m still thrilled with the LED light I’m using to read in bed.  It’s unbelievable that those AA batteries last well over a month before I have to recharge them.

A nice selection on Ebay

Unisource funds for solar systems

From the Unisource SunShare page:

… UES will pay the owner of a qualified solar electric generating system up to $3,000 per Manufacturer’s rated DC kW at Standard Test Conditions (“STC”) of qualifying, proven, installed solar generating capacity for all systems installed and operational within 180 days after UES accepts the owner’s application. …

I don’t intend to get on the grid unless someone else brings power down my street (and ruins the view) or I can buy the lot behind me (has power) – if I run into big money.

Last year I did a lot of research about the Unisource program and it was very limiting, didn’t allow wind generators.  You also had several options re. their buyback of the power you generate, it gets quite time consuming to just read it all.

From the FAQ

Can I have batteries? (Battery backup)?

UES does not provide a rebate if battery backup is present as part of the solar generation system. A stand-alone uninterruptible power supply (UPS) does not disqualify the system from a rebate.

If the power grid supply goes out (a UES power outage), will I still have power to run my air conditioner and refrigerator?

No, when the grid goes down, your inverter is programmed to shut the system down. This insures your system will not feed back into the grid system and cause injury to any UES employees working on power lines. …

How STUPID is THAT?

Especially considering that the power here is so unreliable.  In summer you get continual brownouts, the lights dim, appliances slow down and often the power goes out for a few minutes and sometimes for a few hours.

And then there are the LONG power outages. In summer 2006, some neighbors were without power for several days after a lightening hit.  I don’t know about last summer, since I spent most of my time at my new place, but OFTEN the stove clock was blinking.  They’re too cheap to put the power lines underground, poles constantly get hit by lightening, and there just doesn’t seem to be enough power in summer.

So you’d have to have their solar system and have a separate wind gen / battery system, which I could do if I got the lot behind me.

If their program works for you, I just called and as of today they still have funds available, but they’re going fast.

Ordered my Surrette S-530 batteries from Wholesale Solar

It’s hard to believe how difficult it can be to get batteries.

First I tried to get batteries from the solar place in Golden Valley. In March, I REALLY needed two 6 v golf cart batteries for the camper.  After several failed attempts (the shop was always closed when I stopped by), I once again talked to John and planned on picking them up the day they were delivered with a visiting friend.  Fortunately, I called in the morning, John advised that the shipment wouldn’t come in until 2 days later.

I wasn’t going to drive 80 miles again, I ended up buying two Interstate batteries at an RV place in Kingman.  They were NOT charged, as I noticed after I hooked them up.  They were also almost empty, couldn’t believe how much water they hold.  And, they only come with a 6-months warranty.

I July, I had another lead on batteries from a solar guy in Kingman, but every time I called or stopped by, they didn’t have batteries, they’d be there in two weeks.  I got tired of nagging them.

I finally bought a couple Trojans at the local hardware store (only had 2 batteries at my garage) when I was ready to set up the wind gen in September and needed at least 400 ah.  Was going to order 12 if they could get me a deal, but that’s when I found out how prices had gone up.  I remember they were just under $100 in 2006.  I paid $125, when they checked into the pricing for me, they had gone up again.

I decided to have a look at the Surrettes again, started looking on the web and compared the prices to June, when I had taken some notes from http://www.wholesalesolar.com/products.folder/battery-folder/Surretterolls.html.

6/5/07: Surrette S-530 $250

9/28/07: $312

Holy cow!

I also wasted a lot of time searching on the web.  Was THRILLED when I saw the fantastic deals at
http://www.thesolar.biz/Surrette_Batteries.htm:

Trouble is, they just don’t update their website.

From my notes:

9/28/07 left msg re. Surrette / Trojan pickup

Called a few hours later after nobody called me back.

Web:

Model S-460 6Volt 350AH 117Lbs PRICE: $199.97
Model S-530 6Volt 400AH 130Lbs PRICE: $227.97

S-460 price is now 275.95!

Trojan T-105 currently: had no price, probably $110 – 115
Pickup in Scottsdale only, have to charge sales tax and $40 pickup fee.

They didn’t have ANY pickup location for the Surrettes and I just don’t appreciate their bait and switch and lack of info.  So I called Wholesale Solar, they got back to me right away, there’s NO FEE pickup in Vegas (much closer than Scottsdale), no sales tax.

image

They were really great to work with.

I dealt with Judy by email and then just waited for the closing date for my credit card, so I’d have another month to pay for them (or pay interest.) I called in the order today and I told Judy about my experience with these old prices on the web and she told me that actually the prices had gone up again since last week, but they had honored the price on their site since they hadn’t had time to update yet.

I sure wish everybody did business like Wholesale Solar.

Of course I also wish I’d ordered in June, but I didn’t have the money then.  The 4 surrettes are for my main 24 v system, I already got the Air X for it.  Getting it all set up will take a while, so I’m glad the batteries aren’t scheduled to arrive in Vegas for a few weeks.  Have to decide where to put them (probably build something outside) and how to move them (127 lb is more than I can carry), install the wind gen and I still have to get an inverter.  Don’t know yet if any of my chargers can be set to 24 v.

I also looked at solar panels online, but it just turns me off to see that they’re mostly oil company made.  It’s simply unpleasant to think of buying Shell, BP, GE …  And so incredibly EXPENSIVE!  With winter being around the corner, I’m hoping for lots of wind.

I moved, am finally off the grid

It’s been one heck of a busy summer.  My 23-year old nephew Tobi was visiting for a couple months, don’t know what I would have done without him.  Of course we also had to have a little fun, so we went to visit friends in Santa Fe and I finally got to see Taos.

We also checked out the Taos Pueblo and the friendly guys at the Pueblo patiently explained how to build with adobe and there were many hornos (ovens) in all stages of being built.  We got inspired to try adobe building.

The first project was my horno.  Until Tobi left, I was limited to helping him, but I finally added another row of bricks and yesterday a 2nd row, put a coat of mud on the inside and made some more bricks.  In this pic you can see that we were pounded with rain a couple weeks ago.

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It’s about time I finish the horno, before we get more rain, as soon as the new bricks dried.

As it starts cooling off, I decided to add a lean-to addition on the south wall and a window to my laundry room (currently my office) for winter heating.  I’m still in the planning stage, but better get started soon before winter is here.  I’ll get some black (or as dark as possible) stucco elastomeric paint and will definitely use adobe bricks, in combination with lumber and lots of glass.  Already have a vent hole at the bottom of the laundry room, originally intended for the dryer and I’ll add a little window way high.  Then it’s just a matter of regulating the air flow.  And maybe I can grow tomatoes year round.

I’ve practiced my plastering skills in the garage (temp kitchen area) and then plastered the laundry room with the American Clay products and it is ultra cool.  A lot of work, but sure worth it.  I’ve already scratched the walls many times, installing shelves and the desk I made (fits perfectly into 2 corners) and you hardly see the scratches.  Of course it would be easy to entirely remove the scratches, on a slow day.  And it doesn’t just look good, it feels good.

Just a few weeks ago I moved and Tobi got the windgen (my old 403) set up just before he left.  That’s definitely a 2 people job.  It works GREAT, powers my office just fine on a windy day.

I also have a new Air X waiting to be installed, but first need more batteries and that in itself is depressing.  Since June they went up over 30%, price of lead is going through the roof.  That’s going to be my 24 v main system and I’ll be posting about my power setup a lot more too.

As I’m catching up on paid work (got bills to pay!) and get settled in (still have MANY boxes to unpack, after assembling more cabinets), I’ll post some of the thousands of pictures I took this summer and details about the ton of STUFF I bought to be able to live and work off the grid.

LPL630 LED light disappointment

I was placing an order at Camping World and saw these little battery powered LED lights for cabinets, etc.  At about $6 a piece, I thought I’d order 4 and give them a try.  Today they were delivered and I was shocked to see that they use 3 AG13 batteries.  When I ordered, I had looked for the “technical” info at Camping World, but they had nothing to say about batteries.

A google got my a price of $3.95 EACH for the batteries at Service Lighting

According to the manual for the LPL630, the batteries last up to 10 hours.  So it’ll cost at least $1.20 per hour to run this light, excluding shipping.

ACK!  I might as well just run the generator!  Obviously, it would be cheaper to buy new $6 lights with the batteries, it’s essentially a throwaway light.

I’m also unable to get the battery cover back on the light, very strange.  The most useful parts may be the velcroe and magnetic strip.

The batteries are 1.55 V, maybe I can rig something with my rechargeables, but what a waste of $$$.  I’ve been using the LED flashlights and it’s just AMAZING how long they last on a few AA batteries, so I wasn’t expecting this.

I have yet to find a good source for 12 volt lights.  They FINALLY stuccoed a few weeks ago and the solar panel is up and running again and I’ll be buying some more golf cart batteries soon.  Still don’t have the propane generator I want, so I’ll try to run a lot on my little 12 volt system.  Hopefully I’ll get the wind generator running soon.

Update 9/13/08:

I submitted my negative review to Camping World, but as far as I know they didn’t post it.

I’ll have to do a comprehensive update on lighting soon.  Ordered some 120v LED light bulbs last summer and use them in my desk lamp when I don’t actually have to read (i.e. I’m working on the computer) and where I just need some light to get around.   Very economical, but not very bright.

Buying rechargeable batteries on Ebay

The solar panel is IN the garage, since after a 2 months wait the stucco guys FINALLY put up the lath and got everything ready, but now it’s been 3 weeks ….  Yes, it was too cold, too wet, etc., but there were a few nice days here and there.

I’m so ready to get everything going, got a 7 foot hole for ground rods next to the hole for the win gen and already bought the #4 ground wire to tie to the rebar in the addition footing.

In the meantime, I’ve ordered a C and D battery charger and a bunch of rechargeable batteries for some of the lights I ordered at Camping World (fluorescent and LED) and various appliances such as my boombox.  I ordered on Ebay from http://www.all-battery.com/.  Ebay may be a little cheaper than the website, but there are a lot of web specials too along with free shipping.  Great selection, great communications and PROMPT shipping, notification and tracking—that’s how I like it.

Was not happy with Ebay seller Daisy Dalfin (thesoundtrumpet) because there was no info about combining shipping and my attempts to get info got me a really high quote for C batteries.  Maybe Daisy doesn’t speak English well or something, communications sucked.  I had ordered AA batteries from her on Ebay and paid last week, received no shipping notification or any other communications regarding the order.