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nuclear powered coastal cloud generator

make fog and humidity with giant nuclear heat production stations on the coasts
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People like or hate nuclear power.

nuclear power is used

1) to generate electricity by steam turbines 2) thermionic electricity generation in 'nuclear batteries' 3) on board submarines and aircraft also powering steam generators for electric propulsion

so here's ONE more thing you can do.

put giant reactor core vessel into a floating barge. let sea water into a CLOSED LOOP heat exchanger. the sea water does not contact any radioactive material and is turned directly into steam without cooling towers.

MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF STEAM can be produced on demand when the winds are favorably blowing inland from the coast to bring humid air over the coastal areas where it can turn into rain or at least mist.

Why has this never been tried before? it seems so obvious.

make clouds. then if they're stubborn, and you want, seed them to get rain. perhaps california can give it a try

teslaberry, Jan 21 2014


       Yay - now with 20% capitalization!
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 21 2014

       nuclear rain clouds ?
popbottle, Jan 21 2014

       Just running a thought experiment here, bear with me.   

       Daily average irradiance by sunlight on the earth's surface is ~250W/m^2, this takes into account curvature, seasonal variation, day/night cycle but not cloud cover. Taking clouds into accout, let's say very conservatively that it's 150W/m^2.   

       On bodies of water, nearly all of that goes to evaporation. For fun, and because I'm going to prove a point here, call it 100W/m^2 of evaporation power. This is an extroadinarily conservative figure, but is order-of-magnitude.   

       A reasonably huge sized nuclear reactor might be 100 GW electrical generation, which is actually around 300-400 GW thermal capacity. Which is equivalent to about 400,000 hectares of solar insolation. Hmm, that's a lot more than I thought. 40X100 km. Still, installing a something-like 10-100 billion dollar nuclear water heater would only duplicate the solar based evaporative power of a semicircle of ocean some 50km across. If the windspeed is 10km/hr, that's a tiny tiny residence time in relation to the airmass moving over and where the water vapour is actually coming from.   

       I'm trying to say weather is really, really large scale, (and climate so much more so) - and direct methods to influence it are generally futile, or at least not economically viable.   

       All of that said, your 400GW plant would be creating about 150 tonnes per second of water vapour (this is higher than I thought too). This sounds like a great deal, but spread over a 100x100km area of land it would be 1.29mm/day of rain if 100% efficient, that's 470mm/year or about a foot and a half for those that are innumerate.   

       Anyone care to challenge these figures? I didn't look up any of the constants just went with remembered averages.
Custardguts, Jan 21 2014

       good idea if the sun goes out, but meanwhile it'd be somewhat cheaper to put a black carpet on the water.
FlyingToaster, Jan 21 2014

       You could also use all that energy to make everyone a nice CUP of sTEAm.
AusCan531, Jan 21 2014

       There's a published Sci-Fi story that describes exactly this.
8th of 7, Jan 22 2014

       Whoopsie. Seeing as the largest nuclear power plant in operation is around 8GWe, my 100GWe figure is a little big. Divide by 10, say.   

       That's a bit more reasonable. 15 tonnes per second evaporation, leading to 0.129mm/day, 47mm/year over a 100kmX100km area.
Custardguts, Jan 22 2014

       could we use nuclear-powered compressor/refrigeration equipment to cool the ocean surface off the west coast of England so that the North West doesn't get quite so much rain?
bs0u0155, Jan 22 2014

       Ah yes, you could, ultimately. However the entropy monster ties you up and beats you senseless in the attempt.   

       You can make heat, but you can't make it go away, only move it around. So you can convert stored nuclear energy into heat basically unrestrained. But if you want to remove heat, you have to move it, you can't just "soak it up" (small scale endothermic reactions notwhithstanding). So you could (and by could I mean the physics works, not that you could implement something of that size in the real world) refrigerate a local area of ocean - but you'd need to heat another place by the same ammount (actually, more).   

       It would probably be easier to alter the local topography or build a roof over the ocean than it would be to put in large scale ocean cooling by refrigeration.
Custardguts, Jan 22 2014

       //refrigerate a local area of ocean - but you'd need to heat another place by the same ammount (actually, more).//   

       Ah, well, you're lucky I've got my thinking cap on. This is actually pretty solvable, simply place the hot side of the refrigeration unit UPstream of the cold side. That way you can dump the heat into the water before it gets to you. Now, I know what you're gonna say: "you're just going to have to deal with warmer water now". Well, that's true. BUT, we do have a large nuclear-powered refrigeration unit, and we have already solved the heat-dumping issue.... dump the extra heat into the upstream water. Now, I'm aware that we can't just make that energy disappear within the closed loop of the refrigeration system. However, it's actually more open loop. We have huge capacity for getting rid of waste heat, we use evaporative cooling. They used it in some WW2 fighters and in crude fridges, the normal problem being that you have to continually replace your working fluid. Now, here, it's the ocean, and there's one thing that's noticeable about the ocean: there's a lot of it.   

       In summary: we'll cool down the water upstream of NW England, this will reduce evaporation of seawater and reduce rain cloud formation. We'll dump the excess heat upstream of the cooling. Any inefficiencies in the system will generate heat, which will be accounted for by increased evaporation of seawater upstream of NW England. There, solved.
bs0u0155, Jan 22 2014

       That's absolutely brilliant. You should definitely apply for funding to do just this.   

       Interestingly enough, the net sum of effects will be to generate excess water vapour in the exact same proportions as [teslaberry]'s idea, give or take some wildly varying variables and inconstant constants.
Custardguts, Jan 22 2014

       Well, if we dump the heat down deep enough, we can take advantage of the 10C temperature difference between the surface and the basically- freezing temps down at 1-2000 m. Then, with any luck, by the time it's convected up, the extra heat will evaporate water in a different place (given the constant lateral movement provided by the gulfstream). Now, with any luck, this will prevent rain clouds from forming, and then raining upon Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK. Instead, they will rain upon the newly-independent Scotland.
bs0u0155, Jan 22 2014

       Hmmm... Its probbly easier to generate steam by dedicated solar heaters. Maybe by an array of black tiles to absorb and heat the water into steam?
mofosyne, Jan 22 2014


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