My response to the lament of "We have no plan for securing the waste!" is
"We have no plan because we don't NEED a plan right now."
There are several schemes for storing nuclear waste: rocket it into the sun,
vitrifying it (as you said) and dumping it into the Marianas Trench or a
salt dome, bury it in the Saraha Desert, send it all to Detroit, etc.
Point is, we don't HAVE to make a decision today - we've got time. Between
now and the time when a decision is required, a better solution may pop up,
maybe a strain of bacteria that eats plutonium.
I think the issue of storing nuclear waste is a real and serious one.
on the other hand, the same crowd that is bitching about the nuclear
is also tellling us that we'll have a worldwide calamity of biblical
less than a hundred years from global warming if we continue to burn
In which case, one would think that if they were sincere
and intellectually honest, they would be all in favor of expanding
power immediately. It's far from perfect, but with zero CO2
it looks pretty good to me. The environmental extremists position
kind of like a guy dying of thirst in the desert, refusing to drink
water that is available in a plastic bottle because it might have some
trace amounts of bisphenol in it.
The reason for at least going ahead w/ Yucca Mtn (over Harry Reid's
populist objections) is that the current spent fuel pools at all the
plants are filling up (and have had to be expanded and storage compacted
just to keep plants operational). They need more space and it's
absolutely asinine to keep making more storage at all the individual
plants for another 30 years or more. For one thing, these elements are
aging and prone to developing cladding leakers, etc., that just causes
more widespread contamination issues when scattered all over the map at
the individual plants than if were consolidated in a location designed
for the purpose.
On the other point going forward, I agree wholeheartedly. I've often
said that the current filings of (last time I looked) 27 (+/-) licensing
applications for new nuclear units on the NRC docket will smoke these
turkeys out and reveal them for their real purposes. If they fight them
indiscriminately as in the past on every possible basis they can dream
up it will unveil them as primarily obstructionists irregardless of the
It could be but that's not the current working definition of
"retrievable". One could do much less complex storage than the Yucca
Mtn site and still recover the material for subsequent reprocessing.
Of course, political reasons have prevented any possibility of that in
the US although at present prices and availability of U, there's no
economic incentive anyway.
It's like a lot of things, I'm sure things like ore that was discarded
in the past because it wasn't considered rich enough for older less
efficient extraction processes will wind up being raw material for the
future just like everything else we throw away.
No clue what you're thinking of; there's more high-grade (as that goes)
U ore than we could use at current rates in thousands of years even w/o
recycling or the downblending of weapons-grade material.
It (the downblending) is more about the removal of the weapons material
from stockpile than anything else altho the reduction in required
additional SWUs for commercial fuel is a secondary benefit.
I was thinking in generalities, not necessarily uranium ore but perhaps
nuclear waste may one day be a raw material. I'm almost certain that the
landfills of today will be a mined resource in the future.
As commented on before elsewhere in the thread, it _could_ be now except
for mostly political motivation that prevents it. (Carter edicted that
NRC was not allowed to act on the GE license application for a
reprocessing facility and killed the breeder project in his misguided
"war on nuclear proliferation" wherein his confused thinking he
confounded commercial nuclear power with weapons production.
That halted any chances of reprocessing in the US entirely although at
current demand/cost, however, it wouldn't be economic anyway. AFAIK,
those places that began recycling fuel have ceased owing to the
economics not being favorable; it is afterall, while eminently doable, a
complex process requiring all remote handling. Probably the most
cost-effective first use would be as a secondary heat source if could
get the activist anti's to allow transport more easily to central
location(s); following that there are isotopes that are industrially
and/or medically useful.
On 2/19/2011 11:49 PM, The Daring Dufas wrote:
Perhaps; perhaps not in the sense you're _probably_ thinking of in that
the historical mishmash of stuff will (imo) likely continue to be
expensive even in the future to reprocess effectively. Later locations
that have segregated more carefully, perhaps.
But, the future is already here for some things like methane gas
recovery for either resale or on-site or commercial generation.
My older brother was once involved in coalfield methane recovery. It's
interesting stuff and I know there are some plants running on methane
from landfills. That might work better if waste haulers separated all
biomass from other garbage and dumped it in specific landfills used
like a giant compost heap. Methane could be produced and fertilizer
mined from the same pile. I'm trying to think of a way it could be done.
Well, if you're really interested in a little more than "there's a
project", here's presentation slides Mike gave at a conference that
shows some of the details of the extraction and collection systems (as
well as some other projects)--
Here's the link to page w/ Mike's bio info from the same conference web
Currently there are plans and prototypes of nuclear reactors that are
300 time more efficient than present design, safer, cheaper to build,
waste only needs to be contained for 100 years instead of 1000s can
use present waste for fuel. As a matter of fact these are the
basically the same liquid metal designs that were originally touted
back in the beginning of the nuclear program. We just know how to make
them work now,
That's a pretty fair exaggeration of benefits possible... :)
3X a nominal 30% thermal efficiency would, indeed, be quite an
Liquid metal is still a tough coolant and quite unforgiving. I don't
expect any full-scale implementations in my lifetime (which, altho the
future expectancy ain't what it was when went to work putting
Oconee-class reactor design to bed and licensing, hopefully it is still
some time a'fore it's all over... :) )
I'm reminded of the fusion folks when I read the LMFBR booster stuff,
unfortunately. "Just wait 20 years now and ..."
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