One-Fifth Of Computer Chips Come From Japan – Prices To Rise While Supplies Shrink

The devastation and loss of life continues to make the news as the people of Japan survey the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami. We are now learning that some of the nuclear power plants in Japan could be leaking dangerous amounts of radiation and it is not clear how this danger may affect the country. What is known is that some 20% of the world’s supply of various computer chips are produced in Japan, and with dwindling supplies the cost is starting to rise. Though these price increases will be passed on to consumers in the form of higher pricing, what is unknown is what effect it will have in the production of new and existing products.

Apple sold out of its popular iPad 2 tablet computers last weekend. It is being said that the waiting list is now four weeks before you can expect delivery of a new unit. But now with the disaster in Japan looming, and the unknown availability of chips from the country, this could impact just how soon the units will actually arrive in the US. In addition, other companies such as Toshiba, Canon, and Sony have shut down their plants, and it is unknown if and when they will start up again. These companies make products that are used in a large variety of products including LCD panels and parts.

Texas Instruments, which has two major plants producing chips in Japan, has stated that its plants will be down until at least July. It is also not known how long other plants may be closed nor when they will return to production.

What could be the biggest disruption and which could also affect production of chips is the unknown effect that the nuclear plants exploding and radiation leaks will have around the country. In addition, the Japanese auto plants have ceased production of new cars, because parts distribution has also been disrupted. The entire Japanese economy is teetering with all of these unknowns and the possible ramifications that could ripple around the world.

While many of us believed that 2011 would be filled with new tablet computers from various companies challenging the Apple iPad, this may be delayed until next year or beyond.  IHS iSuppli gave us some insight into the situation when it stated that a two-week supply disruption would be felt until the third quarter of this year. One can only guess that if the supply of chips went on for months at a time that this could disrupt the distribution of new devices into next year or beyond.

My prayers are with the people of Japan and I would hope you would join me.

Comments welcome.

Source – Reuters

Bill Gates Wants Power, Nuclear Power For Green Energy

Bill Gates wants to be a nuclear power player and has forged a deal with his company, Terra Power, and Toshiba to develop nuclear energy using new technology known as  ‘traveling-wave reactors’. With this type of reactor it uses depleted uranium that is being claimed could last for 60 to 100 years or more.  Bill Gates company, Terra Power, believes that this energy source could have the potential to power our energy needs for thousands of years to come.

TerraPower explains the science behind traveling-wave reactors:

A nuclear fission reactor produces and controls the release of energy from splitting atoms of certain heavy elements. The nuclear power plants of today require a full core of fuel made from enriched uranium. The TWR, in contrast, initially contains only a small amount of enriched uranium, which is used to kick off the chain reaction through a core of depleted uranium. The wave of fission would move slowly through this depleted uranium core, splitting many more of the uranium atoms than a conventional reactor would.

Though the first reactors will only be able to produce about 500 megawatt of power, it is hoped that future reactors will hit gigawatt-sized.

So what do you think? Is going nuclear the way to go to get us out of the energy crisis?

Comments welcome.

Source – Fast Company

Source – Fast Company

Coal, a readily available, cheap, alternative to the Current Fuel Crisis:

Fuel alternatives are available if only our government would stop standing in their way. Unfortunately, between the U.S. governments involvement with Big Business and the control of lobbyists representing environmentalists none of them are made accessible to the common consumer. 

Due to that I agree with Thomas E. Stuart, a Public School Teacher at Kohala Middle School of Kapa’au HI who blames the current fuel crisis on we the people of the United States who insist on buying the huge SUVs and other gas guzzling vehicles, as well as, for electing and re-electing the same representatives to Congress who play dead every time some enviro-freak throws another tantrum before some judge.  

It is not that I do not care about our environment. I do. I wash in cold water, avoid excessive driving, and clean with bio-degradable products but when our country discovers enough petroleum deposits under North Dakota to put an end to foreign crude imports altogether and refuses to recover it I see red.   

At least in Missouri one of the state representatives actually is seeking a federal grant to find a solution to the fuel shortage and please the environmentalist by finding a way to store coal emissions under ground. The unfortunate side of it is that the test will take three years and there is no known time in which it is scheduled to begin or if the federal government will honor the results. 

Then, too, despite the fact that coal may be an answer environmentalists may well stand in the way of our taking advantage this great natural resource. How coal would work I am not sure but I do know that way back in WWII Albert Speer succeeded in fueling the Nazi’s war machine with coal based derivatives after the Allies successfully ended their petroleum imports. That means that we can employ and improve on the Nazi coal-based fuel-lubricant production technology and thus free ourselves from the monster hold of the Middle East oil cartel. 

Coal is found in abundance in America and even if you were not supportive of its use we could always build additional nuclear power plants. However, despite the fact that America is the world pioneer of this technology and have managed to make it work, with a nearly accident free operating record in power reactors that are stored underwater on cold war combat patrols for more than  50 years environmentalists insist that no more plants be built. 

So what is it going to take for Americans to wake up and demand that their elected officials take charge of this situation? Maybe it will take gasoline rising to twenty dollars a gallon with the resulting increase in food, home heating costs, electricity, and all other consumer based costs. It is up to you to take a stand for a renewable energy source that will free us from the grips of greedy foreign oil magnates and our own spineless government. Make your voices heard by calling for support for coal energy alternatives. 

Pebble Bed Reactors: Cheaper And Safer

Accepting both the peak oil hypothesis and that climate change is real raises questions about the future of nuclear power; its cost, safety, and full cycle greenhouse impact. Additionally, as an Australian reader objected to my last item “Nuclear Energy Back in the Mainstream” because I recommended Uranium miners as an investment, I feel it’s important to place my understanding of the facts on the record. Nuclear reactors generate energy from fission. An atom of uranium splits into two, releasing energy plus two neutrons; and if either of those neutrons hits another uranium atom it can cause that atom to split, which releases more energy and another pair of neutrons: a chain reaction. Most nuclear power today is produced by large PWRs [Pressurized Water Reactors].
Continue reading “Pebble Bed Reactors: Cheaper And Safer”