000 Intro to Fire2Fission

Fire2Fission Podcast
Fire2Fission Podcast
000 Intro to Fire2Fission

Introduction video to the Fire2Fission Podcast. Mark Hinaman discusses the definition of energy dense fuels, talks about Project Gnome and Project Plowshare in southeast New Mexico, and describes the purpose of the FIre2Fission Podcast.  @fire2fission 

Watch the full video on YouTube here. You can follow along with the transcript on Descript.

[00:00:00] Intro: Just because the facts are A, if the narrative is B and everyone believes the narrative, then B is what matters. But it’s our job in our industry to speak up proudly, soberly. And to engage people in this dialogue. Those two and a half billion people that are on energy poverty? They need us. 

America cannot meet this threat alone. If there is a single country, of course, the world cannot meet it without America that is willing to, we’re gonna need you the next generation to finish the job. Nuclear regulations, we need scientists to design new fuels, focus on net public benefits. We need engineers to invent new technologies for over absurd levels of radiation production entrepreneurs to sell those technologies.

And we’ll march towards this. We need workers to operate a. With High Tech Zero Prosperity for all humankind. diplomats, businessmen, and women and Peace Corps volunteers to help developing nations, the development transition sources of, [00:01:00] in other words, we need you.

[00:01:04] Mark Hinaman: What’s going on everyone? My name’s Mark Hinaman, and this is the introduction episode to the Fire2Fission podcast. 

I am passionate about producing energy for American the world, and I always have been. Since a little boy, I remember staring up at the stars and thinking to myself, God, we got, we gotta get there someday. We gotta go to the stars. But how are we going to do it? And I learned quickly that we’re going to need better energy sources to be able to go and do that and explore the universe. 

So I dedicated my life to producing energy for America in the world, and I have my entire life. As a teenager, I fixed gas wells with my dad. In between semesters in college I worked underground in a coal mine. So doing dirty manual labor jobs growing up. And then for a career I’ve used my mind to work in the oil and gas industry, drilling wells, fracking wells, designing how we build [00:02:00] pipelines and surface facilities that process the oil and gas once it comes outta the ground.

And I’m hoping to use this platform, the Fire2Fission platform, to get the rest of the world excited about energy dense fuels and specifically nuclear energy. 

So I’ve got a lot of questions and I always have. Questions like: who are the pioneers in the energy industry? What kind of technologies are they using and which one, which kind of technologies are they inventing? Which ones aren’t being invented that should be invented? Are there any new fuels that we can use in the industry? How do we normalize nuclear, both within the industry and outside of the industry, to demonstrate that it’s safe and it’s good? And how do we be cheerleaders for abundance, freedom, and prosperity?

So I wanna talk to people that can answer these questions so that people aren’t just hearing it from me. 

Now, what are energy dense fuels? Energy dense fuels are [00:03:00] the fuels and technology systems that use them that give you basically the biggest bang for your buck. You can think about it like investing. If you put a dollar into an investment, how soon do you get that dollar back, and how many more dollars do you get back? Similarly, in energy systems, if you put a unit of energy into a project, how soon do you get a unit of energy back and how much energy do you get back? And there are better energy fuels that give you more energy output than people put in. 

Um, you know, projects like wind and solar. Are challenging. They don’t have a very high energy return on energy invested versus any nuclear project has a phenomenal energy return on energy invested. It’s really, really cool and really good for the world. 

So why am I here? I’m doing this intro episode, you can see for those of you watching online and those of you just listening, it probably sounds pretty windy.

I’m out here in the middle of the desert in [00:04:00] Southeast New Mexico. Where is this and why am I here? And what is this giant plaque that’s sitting right next to me? So I’m sitting in the western half of the Permian Basin, again in New Mexico, and the Permian Basin is a prolific, prolific oil and gas basin. It’s one of the best in the world. There is so much resource here to be captured and utilized to better human lives. And it’s currently being extracted safely, reliably by Americans every single day. 

But in addition to oil and gas, there’s a bunch of solar projects. You can see it’s New Mexico, it’s the desert. It’s very sunny out here. So, you know, we’re putting up utility scale solar projects. Also, because there’s a lot of natural gas, Xcel Energy has some natural gas generating stations nearby that produce power and keep the lights on at night. 

There’s also, interestingly, some nuclear sites. There’s waste disposal or spent nuclear fuel disposal. There’s two sites that [00:05:00] do that. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, very close to here is a big mine that they drilled underground to store the spent nuclear fuel from many of the Department of Defense projects. So that’s currently being utilized. And then there’s also another site. That just got permitted this year by Holtec to store spent nuclear fuel or waste from existing commercial reactors in the us. So both really cool projects. 

But in addition to that, there’s Urenco USA, which is doing the enrichment, that’s part of the process at the front end of the nuclear cycle to make the fuel more useful in nuclear reactors. And that facility, it’s the only one that exists in the United States, that facility is here in New Mexico. 

So while it looks like it’s just a desert and there’s not a ton of stuff here, it’s actually a really awesome part of the world. I mean, they’ve nicknamed themselves the Energy-Plex because of how much resource and everything that they do for the world out here.

But before all of [00:06:00] that, there was this. And what is this? What is this plaque? This plaque marks the spot of Project Gnome. And Project Gnome was an incredible experiment put on by the Atomic Energy Commission and the the United States Government all the way back in the 1960s, late 1950s. So it was the first project of Project Plowshare, which was a larger program developed after World War II.

World War II ended with the invention of nuclear weapons. And the government took a step back at that point and said, holy smokes, we have this incredibly powerful technology that we just invented, and we did incredible harm, but also good for the world in ending a war. You know, Is there a way to repurpose this technology to make it useful and powerful for the world and do good?

And so Project Plowshare was an attempt to do that. They wanted to [00:07:00] terraform the world by utilizing nuclear explosives and say, “What kind of projects and what kind of experiments can we run with these huge explosives for good?” And Project Gnome, where I’m sitting right now, was the first of those projects. It was a really, really awesome experiment.

So they ended up digging a tunnel, a mine, about 1200 feet underground directly where I am right now. And then they took a 3.1 kiloton nuclear explosive into that tunnel and set it off. So what was the objective of this project? They wanted to see if they could get nuclear isotopes. They wanted to do geologic seismic studies, and they hopefully wanted to see if they could develop a new form of energy generation by having kind a manmade artificial energy source.

Which, when you think about it, is really cool. [00:08:00] Uh, you know, can we take a nuke underground, set it off, and then have a perpetual steam source to bring to the surface and generate energy at the surface, you know, so they took a 3.1 Kiloton nuke underground, exploded it, and saw what happened.

Ultimately it didn’t work, meaning it didn’t produce energy perpetually, which an elementary review of physics kind of demonstrates why. It ended up collapsing the tunnel that they drilled underground. It created a huge cavern. It was 170 foot cavern that they ended up mining back into.

And what’s really neat about this is when they got back into the cavern, it was still super hot. It was about 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but it wasn’t dangerous from a radiological perspective. And I’d like most people to challenge people in the nuclear industry, ask them about this project. Say, “Hey, do you know about Project Gnome? And what was the radiation [00:09:00] level when people went back into the cavern? Was it safe? Was it safe to go into that cavern?” And the answer is yes. It was safe to go in. And there’s pictures of people in the cavern after the experiment. If you ask a lot of people in the nuclear industry, I bet they don’t know that. And in fact, I bet they’d say the opposite, that they think that it wasn’t safe. 

And that’s part of what we’re trying to change with this podcast is to educate both people within the industry, but also outside of the industry about nuclear energy and what else we can accomplish with it.

So we’re out here with Project Gnome, and while the project wasn’t successful in creating new energy projects, I wanted to come out and highlight it to show what these people actually did. You know, they were pioneers in the industry. 

Just because the project wasn’t successful, that’s not the point. The point is they were building something. They had the ambition to try it. They had the humility to say, we don’t [00:10:00] know what’s gonna happen, but you know what’s the easiest way to find out is if we go out and test it. Let’s go and build it and test it. So they had the vision to do that. They had the political wherewithal to put the project together to convince regulators, society, the government, that it was a good idea; and then they actually went out and did it. Can you imagine doing something like that today? 

And so I think we need those kinds of visionaries and those kinds of people working in the industry today. We need people that want to build projects. We need people that want to invent new systems and new ways of doing things. And we need people that wanna push the boundaries of figuring out what’s possible. 

And so that’s what this podcast is about. What are the machines and energy systems in the future that we can use? How do we rapidly deploy the known and safest sources of energy? And then how do we convince the rest of the world to do it safer, faster, and cheaper?

We’re really excited to keep learning, [00:11:00] to interview experts in the nuclear industry and the oil and gas industry, and all sorts of people, and we hope that you’re excited to tag along with us while we learn.

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