Friday, June 26, 2009

Estimates of Uranium Reserves

Nuclear power has been one of the proposed solutions to global warming, but as someone (I think it was Joe) pointed out our global Uranium reserves are only enough to last another ~100 years. I tried to find that data and estimates of how long the reserves should last and all the data I could find was several years old (5-10 years). The other day (June 5th) I was listening to Science Friday podcast from NPR and Ira Flatow was talking to several people who deal with nuclear energy and one of them made the comment, I don't remember who, but one of them said that all the estimates of Uranium reserves are several years old and were not too accurate, and that in the past few years there has been a effort made to figure out exactly how much Uranium we have access to. He concluded that we actually have enough to last us much longer than 100 years. We could even build more plants and it would still last hundreds of years.

In my opinion all of the political fervor in the past few years over global warming has been based on incomplete, sometimes inaccurate and misleading scientific (and sometimes "scientific") data. Based on what I've seen and what Nick has mentioned there are still many parameters that need to be constrained before we can pronounce a verdict. Global warming does happen, we just have a very poor understanding of when, how fast and what effect it will have. There may also be some alternatives we (the government) are not considering because our assumptions and decisions are based on data that is old, outdated and/or irrelevant.


  1. I spoke with a scientist from the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado about 6 months ago after a presentation he gave on near-future energy options. His estimate was that the US has enough uranium that using breeder reactors and fuel reprocessing technologies to last about 4,000 years supplying 50% of current demand.

  2. Well there we go, that sounds like a good source, a reliable number and a viable option.

    I think all the news stories and political "studies" I've read that deal with environmental issues all cite the line that Uranium will last ~100 years. This changes the story.


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