Seminar Archive Summaries

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle vs. the Carbon Cycle: Pu vs. C

Rodney C. Ewing, professor, Stanford University

Monday, June 2, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

One hundred commercial nuclear reactors in the United States generate ~ 800 billion kWh of energy each year. This accounts for 19% of the electricity generated in the U.S. The nuclear power plants (NPP) themselves produce no carbon dioxide, but the construction of the NPPs does require energy that leads to limited CO2 emissions. The essential issue is: What is required of the nuclear fuel cycle in order to have a significant impact on the carbon cycle?

Globally, nuclear power plants account for a reduction of carbon emmissions of ~ 0.5 gigatonnes (Gt) of C/yr This is a modest reduction, as compared with global emissions of carbon, just over 8 GtC/yr. Most analyses suggest that in order to have a timely impact on carbon emissions, carbon-free sources, such as nuclear power, would have to expand total production of energy by factors of three to ten by 2050. A three-fold increase in nuclear power capactiy would result in a projected reduction in carbon emissions of 1 to 2 Gt C/yr, depending on the type of carbon-based energy source that is displaced. This three-fold increase utilizing present nuclear technologies would create 25,000 metric tonnes (t) of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) per year, containing over 200 t of plutonium. However, there is considerable technological flexibility in the nuclear fuel cycle that can be described as: open, closed, or a symbiotic combination of different types of reactors. Within each cycle, the volume and composition of the high-level nuclear waste and fissile material depend on the type of nuclear fuel, the amount of burn-up, the extent of radionuclide separation during reprocessing, and the types of materials used to immobilize different radionuclides. Further, the nuclear fuel cycle can be augmented by different strategies for the immobilization of nuclear waste and geologic disposal.

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Can Fusion Step Up? Encouraging Developments in Laser Fusion Research and Prospects for a Future Energy Source

 Siegfried Glenzer, Distinguished Staff Scientist, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Monday, May 19, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

One of the great challenges of this century is to determine if nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes can be demonstrated in the laboratory and developed into an unlimited carbon-free energy source. Recently, experiments on laser-driven targets have begun on the National Ignition Facility to reach temperatures and densities more extreme than the center of the sun. These studies have the goal to demonstrate a burning plasma state with significant fusion energy gain. In this talk, I will present a new high-energy-density science program at SLAC aimed at pursuing discovery-class science of fusion plasmas. Here, we use the seeded LCLS beam with x-ray pulses with the highest peak brightness available today. This capability allows us to measure plasmons and physical material properties in dynamic experiments. Our data allow direct determination of pressure for validating theoretical models of the most extreme states of matter. I will show how LCLS data relate back to the design of ignition fusion experiments and will discuss prospects for near-term progress and fusion energy gain in the future.

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A New Energy Agenda for Latin America: Challenges and Opportunities (Latin America mini-series 4 of 4)

Mauricio Garron, Senior Energy Specialist, CAF Development Bank of Latin America

Monday, May 12, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

The objective is to offer a broad perspective on the current situation and the challenges that Latin America and the Caribbean will face in the short, medium and long run. The aim, then, is to provide an overview that helps to identify both these challenges and opportunities for developing energy projects and improve regional energy planning that can make a contribution to sustainable economic development.

The talk would give an overview of the factors affecting the energy situation and the impacts on Latin America. It also analyses the progress towards and obstacles to energy integration and security of supply. Another important issue is the balance between resources and reserves as this affects the supply and consumption of energy. The environmental implications and problems associated with climate change in the context of global energy development trends. Particular emphasis will be is laid on the potential role of progress with technological development and innovation, energy efficiency and renewable energies.
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Ethanol in Brazil: a model to follow or to avoid? (Latin America mini-series 3 of 4)

Dario Gaeta, CEO, Sermatec

 

Monday, May 5, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Brazil's fuel comsumption has reached 50% of its matrix of Ethanol. The biggest clean energy programm in the world. How many investors are asking if it pays back? What is happening? Does it really work or it is a "hoax"? What is the future of this program?

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Transportation as a Key to Latin America’s Clean Energy Future, Latin America mini-series (2 of 4)

Bernardo Baranda Sepúlveda, Regional Director, Latin America of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP)

Monday, April 28, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Latin America is one of the most urbanized regions of the world. And its transportation sector, despite the widespread use of ethanol in Brazil, will need to clean up both in terms of conventional and greenhouse gas emissions if it is to avoid long term pollution and climate change impacts. Public transportation, urban design, and improvements to freight transport are critical areas that will determine whether or not the regions gets cleaner or dirtier over the next twenty years.

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The Diquis Hydroelectric Project: Social, Economic and Environmental Impacts (Latin America mini-series 1 of 4)

Dr. Alvaro Umaña, Senior Research Fellow, CATIE 

Monday, April 21, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

The Diquis Hydroelectric Project is a 620 MW project, the largest hydro project in Central America, that is proposed to be built in southern Costa Rica. The project has a number of ecological design characteristics but also impacts on indigenous people's reserves and drains a Ramsar-protected wetland. The talk will address economic, social and environmental considerations for this project.

Special panel talk with students

Gro Brundtland, Board of Directors, United Nations Foundation; Former Prime Minister of Norway

Monday, April 14, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:14 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

This Energy Seminar will feature a student-led discussion with Dr. Gro Brundtland on the challenges in climate and energy --an area she has been a global leader.

**Come join us for the Precourt Institute for Energy social following this talk. NVIDIA Foyer, 5:15-6:15 (open to Stanford faculty, staff, and students. Editors of the Stanford Energy Journal will be present to discuss their latest sustainability transportation issue.

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Saving Time and Energy through Bus-Rapid-Transit Projects Around the World

Sharareh Tavafrashti, Principal Engineer, San Francisco County Transportation Authority

Elkin Bello, Program Manager, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy 

Monday, April 7, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Shari Tavafrashti Elkin Bello

As the cost of providing space and energy for personal transportation options have increased both on the capital side as well as its energy footprint and consequences, mass transportation is gaining priority for developing and developed countries. In this presentation, we will provide a few examples of the successful and not so successful implementations for the bus rapid transit system around the world. The lecture will compare key features of various BRT projects around the world and attempt to address their impact on sustainable development and transportation solutions in each environment.

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Solid State Energy Storage: Game-Changing Technology for the 21st Century

Ann Marie Sastry, President and CEO, Sakti3, Inc.

Monday, March 31, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

Critical, imminent changes in the world energy portfolio have amplified pressure on development of advanced energy storage technology, for the grid, automotive and consumer electronics sectors. Technology advances are not only required to enable the largest entry of people to the middle classes in human history, but also to avert disastrous consequences of irrevocable climate change and environmental harm. Present lithium-ion batteries, with a total addressable market of over $12 billion, expected to grow to over $23 billion in the next four years, cannot meet these burgeoning needs, for reasons of cost, performance and safety.

Present manufacturers of the incumbent technology all employ liquid electrolytes and lamination processing in highly conserved plant designs, producing cells that are not differentiated in cost, performance or safety. Additionally, lamination processing of lithium-ion batteries has enormous built in costs, including up to two months’ of careful, pre-processing time for cells before they can be shipped to customers, comprising tremendous work-in-process and additional, unremovable process cost and time.

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Commercializing Wind, Photovoltaics, Lighting, and Batteries: The Impact of Government Policies During the Past 25 Years

Cathy Zoi, Consulting Professor at Stanford University

Monday, March 10, 2014 | 04:15 PM - 05:15 PM | NVIDIA Auditorium, Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center | Free and Open to All

On March 10th, Cathy Zoi will present the findings from Energy 158, a research seminar held during the Fall of 2013, that investigated the progress of wind, photovoltaics, lighting and batteries over the past 30 years, and the impact that government intervention had on this progress. She will then apply these lessons from history to propose a framework policy makers can use in the future.

Rationale for the research: Public policy imperatives have created a drive for energy technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve national security, and boost domestic economic activity. To accelerate the development and commercialization of these new technologies beyond what the market would deliver on its own, governments frequently use policies like direct R&D funding, financial incentives or penalties (e.g. through the tax code, state funds, or utility rates), mandatory targets or caps, information disclosure, and performance codes and standards to create market conditions that favor emerging technologies. There is significant public debate about the most effective mix of these policy interventions.

 

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