The Ergosphere
Saturday, February 28, 2015
 

Can radon suffocate you?

TL;DR:  No.  At least, not chemically.

In a discussion about residential radon in which I linked this NIH study which found that lung cancer decreases with rising residential radon levels, someone asserted that you could die by radon poisoning.  I challenged that, saying that I'd calculate just what would happen if you had even 0.1 vol% radon in air.  Then someone else said that people had died by radon suffocation in Appalachia, so I went and did it.

Stipulate that 0.1% by volume in air is two orders of magnitude below anything presenting an asphyxiation hazard.  Radon has a density of 9.73 grams/liter, so 0.1% by volume would be 9.73 mg per liter or 43.8 μmol/liter.

The half-life of Rn-222 (the only isotope which lasts long enough to get out of soil and hang around much) is 3.824 days.  This means that there's 1/e of it in 5.52 days, or 2.1e-6 (1/(86400*5.52)) of it decaying per second.  For 43.8 μmol, this is 9.2e-11 mol/sec decaying or 55 TBq (terabequerels).

The decay energy of Rn-222 is 5.5 MeV, so that 4.38 μmol has a total power output of 3.04e20 eV/sec.  An electron-volt is 1.602e-19 J, so that works out to 48.7 watts per liter of air.  The air in a room 3mx3mx2.5m high (22500 liters), spiked with 43.8 μmol/liter Rn-222, would release about 1.1 megawatts of heat.

Anything and anyone in such a room would catch fire in seconds.  There would be no time to suffocate.

Do I need to mention that if such high concentrations of radon were found in nature, people would pump it into tanks and use it to boil water?  It would be one of the most fantastic sources of free energy imaginable.

 
Monday, February 16, 2015
 

Readership: What do not see, that you want to see? Should I take commissions?

Pursuant to a dissussion on Rod Adams' blog, I'm likely going to be digging into ultrasupercritical steam cycles today.  This made me realize that most people who do this are either paid money for the effort, or are studying so they can be paid money for it.

Should I be taking commissions for analytical posts?  Something like GoFundMe?  I can use the money.

Are there any gaps in the public-domain analysis out there that maybe I could fill?

Bend my (virtual) ear.


 
Friday, February 06, 2015
 

Pre-emptively striking against Inconvenient Truths

I picked up a link to an article on the Monticello nuclear power plant and the alleged un-economic nature of the cost overruns of its recent power uprate, and went to try to add this to the discussion:
Let's have a look at the facts, shall we?

The Monticello nuclear plant is rated at 671 megawatts net.  The plant can be expected to average more than 90% of this figure (more than 600 MW), and since refueling outages are scheduled for seasons of low demand its useful capacity factor is close to 100% during the peaks of summer and winter.  All of that generation is free of air emissions of any kind, especially carbon.

It may be true that...
it’s enough money to install over 400 megawatts of new wind power.
But 400 nameplate megawatts of wind turbines, even at a generous capacity factor of 40%, is just 160 megawatts average (barely more than 1/4 of Monticello).  Neither does that figure include the cost of new transmission lines and other upgrades which are required by the new wind even if they're not billed to it; those can cost as much as the wind farms themselves.  Worst, wind farms go dead during winter and summer high-pressure systems which bring heat waves and cold snaps.

Ignoring these things won't make them go away.  Tragically, the advocates of "renewables" appear to be sticking their fingers in their ears to avoid hearing the words of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr:  "the plants that we're building, the wind plants and the solar plants, are gas plants".  Replacing Monticello with wind plus gas means about 2 million extra tons of CO2 emissions per year, about 30 million tons by 2030.  At a social cost of perhaps $50 per ton, that is $1.5 billion to go "renewable".

Please wake up.
However, immediately upon creating an account to enter this, I was faced with this screen:





Apparently, the drawbridge has been pre-emptively raised against any attempt of the truth to invade their little castle of delusion.



 
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