Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nuclear Reactor

There are many arguments on this topic recently, mostly surrounding "to build, or not to build" question, especially when the reactor in Japan went out of control after the earthquake and tsunami strikes.

As an Investment
Well, let's not look at the bad part yet (such as nuclear waste, radiation, etc). Among many types of power generator (solar, wind, tidal, etc), it turns out that nuclear reactor has the highest return based on initial investment. Also, surprisingly solar power generator is giving a pretty bad return on investment. In another word, when you want to use the minimal money to make maximum electricity, nuclear reactor is the choice (and selling the electricity basically means money).

That is also why, nuclear reactors are build one after another in the whole world, because they are the cheapest way out for electricity.

Technology Required
To build a nuclear reactor is not like baking a cake, even Albert Einstein, the person who build the famous formula E=mc² once said that it is impossible to extract the nuclear power from the atom (he was right for some time, until World War 2 where tons of research were done to build the atom bomb).

Well, nuclear reactor are based on nuclear physics, which based on quantum mechanics. The fact is, quantum mechanics is not something everyone can understand easily.

Nuclear Reactor in Malaysia
Now, let's 'try' to build a nuclear reactor in Malaysia. The first problem come into the mind is - nuclear physic experts. From what I know:
  • There are no courses for 'nuclear physics' or 'quantum mechanics' in the local universities.
  • I can hardly find any books regarding 'nuclear physics' or 'quantum mechanics' in the local bookstore.
  • There is nobody I know that have any interest in this field.
So what does this means? This means the basic knowledge for Malaysia to build a nuclear reactor is at ZERO.

Well some may said "if we don't have any experts, then we just import them!". Yeah right, you're being so naive. Don't forget money matters all, if you were to import experts from outside, get ready to pay them a sum that make them 'interested' to work for you. And this just violates what I said in the early part - nuclear power is cheap. By hiring expert from outside, you're making the investment having way lesser return, and thus investor won't be interested in building a nuclear reactor, and in the end? Government pay for it? Using the money tax from your pocket?

To Start Things Up
Building a nuclear reactor is indeed the economical way out for energy crisis, provided you do it correctly. If the people above are really interested to do so, please, at least start by building some nuclear physics courses in the tertiary education, sending people who capable outstation to do research and learn (WARNING: NOT sending some idiotic minister people to go visiting other country's nuclear reactor).

So, having enough local experts in nuclear physics takes 10 years. Sending the experts to learn from other country takes another 5 years. Planning and building your own reactor takes 5 years. Handling people who protest against the construction expect a delay of 5 years. So I won't be agreeing building a nuclear reactor in Malaysia for another 25 years time, until I see Malaysia are truly capable of doing so. Now it's just a dream.

If you expect to throw bunch of tax payer's money to hire bunch of people from outside to build a nuclear reactor, I certainly hope you do not ended up building a nuclear bomb in your own country.

P/S: Yes I admit I'm a nerd that enjoy reading difficult stuff such as nuclear physics and quantum mechanics...

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