Can’t we reprocess most of the intensely radioactive spent fuel? Also, yucca mountain was picked because no one lives there, before the tectonics of the basin and range were fully understood. Maybe a better place is in a very deep tunnel in the Appalachian range, but that’s prohibitively expensive and close to the eastern seaboard, in a wet climate.
are you an australian politician? or an advisor to them?
are you an australian politician? or an advisor to them?[/quote]
but but but… coal is the future of humanity… said no one ever (except tony “onion, raw, skin on” abbot)
[quote=mdilthey][quote=Wintage Townie]If it’s already airborne, why not just fling it into the vastness of space? At even the most moderate speed, would it not be completely decayed by the time it reached anything? And more likely, won’t it just go on forever, until the death of the universe in 10^100 years?
What about engineering a bacteria to eat it and turn it into water? Is that some shit that’s possible?[/quote]
There’s so much debris floating around in orbit right now that it’s becoming harder to keep satellites up there without them getting hit and destroyed. I can only imagine the shitshow if 2030’s astronauts have to dodge nuclear waste coming at them at 17,500 miles per hour.
As for the bacteria, they tried to do that with PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls, basically fireproof oil) and some of the molecules were too complex for the engineering involved. But, on some of it, it did work, like the PCB’s in the Hudson river.
Sadly, that doesn’t work on nuclear waste because you’re basically looking at heavier isotopes of Uranium. It’s already a base element and can’t be broken down any more. In order to turn it into water, you’d need to be a goddamn alchemist.[/quote]
Don’t park it in orbit. Send it off into the inky void.
I wonder what the energy requirements for disposal would be compared to the energy harvested from the fuel/waste.
Yeah, you don’t really want to be spending that much trying to get it out of the gravity well, especially with the potential for rapid kinetic dispersion if there’s a rocket malfunction. Sticking it in a deep subduction zone with a high sedimentation rate is not a terrible idea, even with the potential for containment failure. Heavy metals are heavy, and dilution is the solution to pollution.
are you an australian politician? or an advisor to them?[/quote]
I’d have to take a pay cut to do either of those things.
Also I don’t have a knife big enough for Australia.
Nice 5 dollar words, college guy.
Another option is to repackage all of the waste as energy efficient hot water heaters.
Heeeyy, I saw you when I was at the University.
Yeah, that’s why we need a space elevator: stick toxic waste on a freight train unto the heavens, let those dumb jerks over on Alpha Centauri deal with it in 583750920937475 years
See, that’s my point. I am not saying that we do it now, when like 10% of rockets still fail, and even getting things into near earth orbit is a huge problem. I just mean like, in another 50 years, when there’s a space elevator in Antartica, we just send that shit in the direction of Voyager. It’ll take 30,000 years just to get through the Oort Cloud.
Yeah the space idea is pretty much a non-starter. Way too expensive and potential for truly catastrophic disaster via launch failure.
A typical nuclear power plant in a year generates 20 metric tons of used nuclear fuel. The nuclear industry generates a total of about 2,000 - 2,300 metric tons of used fuel per year.
How much does it cost to send something into space?
Musk says SpaceX’s latest rocket in development, the Falcon Heavy, will be able to do it for as little as $1,000 a pound. Historically, that’s pretty low. Using the Space Shuttle to get a pound of something to the Space Station, for example, costs around $10,000.
So 2,204 lbs/metric ton x 2,000 tons x $1,000 = $4,408,000,000 / year. And that’s using Musk’s made-up best case scenario number.
I was reading something the other day about new reactor designs that are safer and use fuel more efficiently. That’s probably our best bet - utilize the current waste as fuel and reduce the waste output going forward.
I like the idea of trying to drill down and drop it into a subduction zone. Although that’s probably what some prior ancient civilization thought too; they just kept shoving their nuclear waste down into the ground until they went too far and the whole thing went nuclear and now we have plate tectonics.
Haha, hooooly shit, yep. That’s a pretty big “no” right there. Rockets explode all the time.
I went to the Air and Space museum in D.C. in January and I don’t remember the figures involved with the amount of fuel/energy required to escape earth’s orbit, I just remember it being mind-blowingly significant.
Face, talk bioremediation to me, baby. I grabbed this from the tried-and-true academic reference, Wikipedia:
“The species involved in these processes have the ability to influence the properties of radionuclides such as solubility, bioavailability and mobility to accelerate its stabilization.”
So HY you can use plants and maybe bacteria to filter out radiation from soil. They can’t break it down but they can sure help remediate the effects. That’s wicked.
Oh, and also, here’s the big issue with nuclear power plants:
On February 12, 1980, Jimmy Carter basically put forth a federal law that required that the U.S. create and manage nuclear waste repositories. it made perfect sense. The law says, no new plants can be authorized until there’s a place to put the waste.
This launched literally DECADES of legal dispute, from three fronts:
- States and municipalities suing the federal government to keep nuclear waste repositories out of their backyards
- Nuclear power companies avoiding the cost of building repositories
- Politicians/presidents avoiding the politically unfavorable mandate to build repositories. “Nuclear Waste” doesn’t look good on a campaign sheet.
This effectively ended the production of nuclear power plants in the US. No new nuclear plants have been built since 1980, other than a couple of projects that had already started prior to the law (if I’m remembering correctly). The entire industry is absolutely frozen.
As for the reprocessing of waste for fuel, YES, this is absolutely possible given current technology, but nobody has invested. Nuclear waste is very unpopular, very hard to get insured against, and difficult from a federal and state legislation point of view. It’s so difficult, in so many ways, that nobody bothers to even try.
The nuclear industry was born in a time where there was virtually no oversight into government activity. It was the wild west, our government built a nuclear power/weapons platform almost overnight that was larger than the U.S. Auto industry at its peak. Today, post-environmentalism, the world is very different. The government doesn’t have the same authoritarian power they used to have. In the current political atmosphere, a nuclear industry can’t exist. And it’s purely political.
France’s electric grid is 80% nuclear. Their population favors it. It’s seen as an item of nationalistic pride.
Fucking space nerds fucking up this page.
yes, and there was a brief period of time in the 2000s where there was more highly enriched uranium in rochester than almost anywhere else in the country. doing nothing, just chilling down there blowing off neutrons like a vape contest
I dunno… visiting Chernobyl left me with the impression we are not smart enough for nuclear. Fukushima happened since then too…
Total deaths from radiation at U.S. nuclear power plants since the 1950’s: zero muthafuckas!
At Chernobyl, they deliberately turned off the safety mechanisms and then induced a criticality. In Japan they built a nuclear plant on the ocean. Not judging, America’s not perfect, but when done right, nuclear is not any more of a threat than the 30,000 deaths from pollution-related health issues from fossil fuels in the U.S. (China’s pollution death toll? Hundreds of thousands? Millions?)
It’s the lesser of two evils.
yeah, fukushima location was perhaps a silly decision. japan is mildly fucked since you gotta put em near water. they have plenty of water, it just so happens that the water is also subject to unpredictable and very large waves. we have a nuke plant up here on lake ontario. lake ontario is not subject to large waves of any variety. we’re also like 700 miles from a fault line.