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Nuclear Power, Transportation

October 13, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 41

THE PROPOSAL advocated by Malcolm L. Watts (C&EN, Aug. 11, page 6) and others for the installation of nuclear power stations to provide energy for battery-driven autos would indeed solve the problem of carbon emissions for that mode of transportation. There are other problems, however, where electricity is either unsuitable or usable only after considerable conversion expense and lengthy periods of time.

These problems include fuel energy for aircraft, railroads, large trucks, ships, and home heating in cold climates. Recourse to coal-to-oil conversion will be necessary at some point for these and should be initiated. Although some may argue that auto transportation is the biggest user of energy and therefore the most deserving of problem solving, think of the consequences of fuel shortages in these smaller but vital segments of the U.S. economy. Considering the increasing consumption of hydrocarbon fuels in China and India and the "normal" use in the rest of the world, the supply of crude oil may not last 50 years into the future, the forecasted time when the affordable oil supply will vanish.

It seems to me that what is needed is a well-thought-out plan covering all the requirements and a firm resolve and commitment to carry it out.

William G. Finnegan
Reno, Nev.


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