I broke down and ordered a Wattvision device a couple of weeks ago. Here is my setup experience.
I followed the setup instructions, but for some (bizarre, unknown) reason my MacBook Pro (June 2010) refused to connect to the Gateway’s (the little deck-of-cards-sized device is called the Gateway) IP 169.254 IP address under any network configuration or any browser. I used another web browser on another computer and finished the setup that way.
I should mention that I emailed Wattvision when I couldn’t connect. I received an email response within minutes telling me to call the support number. I did, and Savraj walked me through some things. He took my word that I really couldn’t connect. After going through everything both of us could think of, he promptly offered to send me a new Gateway at no charge. I agreed, but thought I’d try the configuration with another web browser first, which worked (so I called him back and told him not to worry about the new Gateway). +1 for great support.
Now with it working, here’s how I actually installed it. First I “repurposed” my phone utility box (I use a VOIP phone now):
Inside the utility box was a CAT-5 cable going into my house. This meant a lot to me: I didn’t want to drill any new holes in my exterior wall or fish a phone line through a finished basement ceiling. I grabbed my punchdown tool and wired up an Ethernet jack:
I tucked the cables behind the phone test ports for tidiness:
Here is the entire exterior setup. You can see the Wattvision sensor strapped to the power meter. To the left of the meter you can see the white phone cable, which emerges below and goes into the phone utility box:
Next, I found where the CAT-5 cable comes into the 66-block in my basement. I added another Ethernet jack (all standard Ethernet wiring):
I plugged in a standard phone cable into this jack and to the Wattvision Gateway, the supplied power to the Gateway. The lights flickered for a second then went dark. Gasp! Did I kill the Gateway? No, it does it again when I remove and add power. Hm…
I looked at the ends of the phone cable:
Ah! Phone cabling is straight through. I wired the CAT-5 cable as Ethernet, so that means I need to reverse the wires in the phone cable:
Plug it in and voilà.
So is this material “waste”? Absolutely not. Ninety-five percent of a spent fuel rod is plain old U-238, the nonfissionable variety that exists in granite tabletops, stone buildings and the coal burned in coal plants to generate electricity. Uranium-238 is 1% of the earth’s crust. It could be put right back in the ground where it came from.
Of the remaining 5% of a rod, one-fifth is fissionable U-235 — which can be recycled as fuel. Another one-fifth is plutonium, also recyclable as fuel. Much of the remaining three-fifths has important uses as medical and industrial isotopes. Forty percent of all medical diagnostic procedures in this country now involve some form of radioactive isotope, and nuclear medicine is a $4 billion business. Unfortunately, we must import all our tracer material from Canada, because all of our isotopes have been headed for Yucca Mountain.
What remains after all this material has been extracted from spent fuel rods are some isotopes for which no important uses have yet been found, but which can be stored for future retrieval. France, which completely reprocesses its recyclable material, stores all the unused remains — from 30 years of generating 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy — beneath the floor of a single room at La Hague.
“Nuclear waste” is only waste because it was designated so by Presidents Ford and Carter in the 70s.
A great opinion piece here (skip the first 4 paragraphs though…boring!) about the whole cost of nuclear energy versus fossil fuel energy. Consider this:
A 1,000-megawatt coal plant is fed by a 110-car coal train arriving every day. A nuclear reactor is replenished by a single tractor-trailer bringing new fuel rods once every 18 months. Over the course of a year, the coal plant will release 400,000 tons of sulfur and fly ash. Some of this ends up in landfills, but most escapes into the atmosphere where it kills 30,000 people annually, according to the E.P.A. Then there’s the carbon dioxide—seven millions tons annually from each plant—which is the principle cause of global warming.
By comparison, the “wastes” of nuclear power can once again be contained in a single truck. I recently watched one of these spent fuel assemblies being lifted into the receiving room at France’s nuclear reprocessing center in La Hague. It is an eerie sight—the most radioactive object in the solar system emitting double what you would have received standing at ground zero in Hiroshima. Yet a three-foot wall separated us, and the emissions didn’t even register on our badges. More than 95 percent of the spent fuel rod can be recycled. That is why France is able to store all its “waste” (from 30 years of producing 75 percent of its electricity) beneath the floor of a single room.
I’ve read more than a few articles by nuclear scientists who all agree that even the spent nuclear fuel is easily recycled (given some upfront investment in plant design), taking the half-life of the waste from 10,000 years to somewhere around 300 years. The technology to reclaim energy from this waste is also improving all the time, but the bottom line is that it is a trifle of mostly harmless waste compared with the tons (literally) of toxic waste we spew into the atmosphere every day from coal-fired plants.
This seems like a no-brainer to me. What do you think?