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Can nuclear waste be handled safely?

1/29/2010 06:00 PM EST
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mike_allan
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re: Can nuclear waste be handled safely?
mike_allan   2/4/2010 3:19:24 PM
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Continue developing space elevator. Encase nuke waste in small batches and send up. At end of elevator have linear accelerator to shoot waste toward sun. Could be profitable taking waste from other countries.

EFJ
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re: Can nuclear waste be handled safely?
EFJ   2/1/2010 7:25:04 PM
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Perhaps I should clarify the current status of the technical feasibility of dealing with spent fuel from light water reactors. The separation of uranium and thorium (over 95% of the total weight of the spent fuel) has been practiced by the French for decades. Their technical capability using the current process (called PUREX) is well developed and mature technology. They reprocess their own fuel and have at times reprocessed fuel from other countries. The use of the recovered plutonium in MOX fuel is a mature technology. Decay of fission products, will happen without any technical intervention (about 3% of the spent fuel). The separation and destruction of the minor actinides has been demonstrated at a theoretical and research level but is not a currently mature technology. The minor actinides represent less than 1 kg/ 1000 kg of spent fuel. (CEA a French company, has published a very good introduction to nuclear waste at: http://www.cea.fr/var/cea/storage/static/gb/library/Clefs46/contents.htm) The use of fast neutron spectrum reactors and/or molten fluoride salt reactors to reduce the production of actinides and 'burn' existent actinide waste has been done with operational research reactors but has not been done with commercial power reactors in the U.S. The Russians have run power (as opposed to research) reactors for military applications in the fast neutron spectrum. Hyperion Power is currently developing and marketing a fast spectrum reactor in the U.S. This design has not yet been approved by the NRC. We currently have mature technology to handle over 98% of the spent nuclear fuel from light water reactors, and experimental technology for the most radiotoxic portion of the remaining fuel residue. Personally, I believe that the best answer to radioactive waste is the liquid fluoride (also described in the literature as molten fluoride) salt reactor using a closed thorium/uranium fuel cycle. As was mentioned above, a mountain of research and technical literature on this type of reactor has been collected by Kirk Sorensen and is available on his site at: http://thoriumenergy.blogspot.com/ . This is not a mature technology.

cgsm27
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re: Can nuclear waste be handled safely?
cgsm27   2/1/2010 5:03:02 PM
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I vote for exploring the Liquid-Fluoride Thorium fueled reactors. Checkout: http://energyfromthorium.com http://thoriumenergy.blogspot.com

aquitaine
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re: Can nuclear waste be handled safely?
aquitaine   2/1/2010 3:39:10 AM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasimir It's a type of outerspace propulsions system under development. Right now the most powerful one uses about 200 kW, although with future developments it will likely grow. For future spacecraft propsulsion another promising type is nuclear propulsion, but it is only on the drawing boards right now thanks to anti-nuclear fear mongering.

rick merritt
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re: Can nuclear waste be handled safely?
rick merritt   2/1/2010 2:12:13 AM
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Dear Aquitaine: What's a Vasimir engine?

aquitaine
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re: Can nuclear waste be handled safely?
aquitaine   1/31/2010 4:01:09 PM
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I'll also add that nuclear power is the only realistic way we can beat both global warming and future energy problems. Clean coal isn't nearly up to the task, because it chains us to a 19th century way of getting power. Coal is based on carbon, like any other organic substance. It will never be truely clean. And what about when we have more of a manned interplanetary presence in the solar system, what will we use for power? To use VASIMIR engines and magnetic shields, you will need some serious power, much more than you can get with solar. Nuclear is the way into the future.

aquitaine
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re: Can nuclear waste be handled safely?
aquitaine   1/31/2010 3:52:33 PM
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Nuclear waste handling is not a technical problem, of course it can be handled safely. The problem is politics and fear mongering. I used to believe in Greenpeace, but their distortions and lies about nuclear power really turned me off to them and other like minded environmental groups.

jg_
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re: Can nuclear waste be handled safely?
jg_   1/30/2010 9:05:50 PM
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Topical NIF reading: https://publicaffairs.llnl.gov/news/news_releases/2010/NR-10-01-06.html key seems to be this : ["In last fall‚??s experiments, an initially asymmetric target implosion with a ‚??pancake‚?Ě shape was changed to a spherical shape by the wavelength-shifting technique, validating the modeling results."]

jg_
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re: Can nuclear waste be handled safely?
jg_   1/30/2010 8:50:15 PM
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I'd call Nuclear Fuel Disposal BOTH a technical problem, AND a political problem. The steps EFJ mention, are still ideas, and not commercially deployed. Doing that is a technical problem. The technical challenge is rather similar to Clean Coal : Finding a way to design/add the systems to remove the "minus by-products" at the site itself, whilst still being viable. Technically very challenging. Here, Clean Coal may have the edge, as there are already commercial scale plants ramping, whilst Nuclear solutions are years off. Clean Coal solutions also help address the BIG issue, of what to do with the huge investments in present coal infrastructure, which is still growing rapidly. By contrast, the 'GW ledger' numbers show Nuclear is now a sunset industry, as the GW added is negative, and it has been left in the dust by Wind, and even Solar PV. NIF may hold more promise ? I see they just hit a 1MJ milestone on 27 jan.

rick merritt
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re: Can nuclear waste be handled safely?
rick merritt   1/30/2010 12:28:05 AM
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Dear EFJ: So are you saying there are no longer any significant risks with spent fuel, but the public just needs to be educated about that? Dear jg: Indeed, it sounds like there are many unsolved problems beyond waste. Anyone else have perspective on these issues?

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