Summary: The world currently uses 3.5 cubic miles of oil (CMO) equivalent of energy, and by 2050 demand for energy is expected to rise to 6 cmo. The demand for electricity is expected to more than double by then, and this need cannot be met through measures promoting conservation and improving energy efficiency alone, nor can renewable sources of power like wind and solar meet this demand. What is needed is a scalable source of carbon-free electricity, and nuclear power can deliver that, but concerns over plant safety, public health, long-term storage of waste, and cost make it unlikely that new nuclear power plants will be built in the US. Getting the public to embrace nuclear power is difficult, and I will address those concerns and show that most of them are misplaced or exaggerated. Moreover, newer designs of nuclear plants that are walk-away safe and can even use the nuclear waste as fuel obviate those concerns.
Ripudaman Malhotra worked all of his career as a research chemist at SRI International, specializing on the chemistry of energy-conversion processes. He was named an SRI Fellow in 2005, and in 2015 he received the Storch Award from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Energy and Fuels.
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