Belgians to build prototype nuclear reactor with particle accelerator to reduce waste threat

Sep 27, 2012 by Bob Yirka report

(Phys.org)—Researchers at the SCK CEN Belgian Nuclear Research Centre have announced that they are going to build a Multi-purpose hYbrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications (MYRRHA) which is an experimental way of producing electricity via a nuclear reactor using a particle accelerator as a neutron source. The benefits of such an approach would mean spent nuclear fuel would have a far shorter half-life than conventional reactor technology methods and increased safety as runaway chain reactions cannot occur.

As most everyone knows, the modern world is facing the daunting prospect of having to choose between continuing to burn fossil fuels to create the electricity we need to keep on with our way of life, or switching to other means, such as , or of course resorting to nuclear reactor technology. The sad fact is, none of these approaches is not without some serious problems; continuing on as we are means adding to global warming, and having to deal with the fact that some day, we'll eventually run out of sources. sound great, but thus far, none of them have shown an ability to replace coal and/or oil. And nuclear energy, well, there is the always present risk of a meltdown, ala Chernobyl, Fukushima, Three Mile Island, etc. and of course all that super hazardous spent that must be stored safely somehow for hundreds of thousands of years.

For these reasons, the SCK CEN center was established over a half century ago to perform research into peaceful ways of using nuclear energy. This new effort extends that goal to include finding ways to make the creation of energy via nuclear power safer both in the process and in the produced. To that end they have chosen to embark on a study that will likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take years to carry out; the construction of a nuclear reactor that uses a particle accelerator to provide a . The idea is to build a nuclear reactor that relies on a neutron spallation source (the particle accelerator) for its reactions, rather than the fuel itself. Doing so would mean the chain reaction could only continue if the continued to operate, which means it could be stopped immediately if there are any signs of trouble. But, more importantly, the neutrons could be used to transmute the fuel waste into fissionable material that has a half life of just a couple hundred years, thereby greatly reducing the toxic threat.

It's still not a perfect solution of course, as it still means relying on nuclear energy for the foreseeable future, but it's obviously a far better approach than continuing on with what is happening now. If the new approach pans out, it could mean a far safer future for generations to come. If not, it might provide a means for carrying on until something better can be found.

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More information: www.sckcen.be/

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User comments : 57

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hb_
not rated yet Sep 27, 2012
But what performance are they aiming for? What is the possible future cost per installed kW? If it is ten times more expensive than regular nuclear, then it will never have any serious impact on energy production.
antialias_physorg
2 / 5 (6) Sep 27, 2012
The safety feature is good, but this part:
the neutrons could be used to transmute the fuel waste into fissionable material that has a half life of just a couple hundred years, thereby greatly reducing the toxic threat.

Is not.

Because we most definitely don't have a clue about storing dangerous stuff for that amount of time. The state of current (nuclear) waste disposal sites (which need to be safe or thousands - not just hundreds of years) merely decades after waste disposal has started can attest to that.
Eikka
4.5 / 5 (8) Sep 27, 2012
Super hazardous waste like old jumpsuits and gloves that must be closed in steel barrels and stowed away in old salt mines - not because they're particularily radioactive, but because politicians have put the contamination limits 30 times tighter on the nuclear industry than anyone else.

90% of nuclear waste is actually political waste.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Sep 27, 2012
Is not. Because we most definitely don't have a clue about storing dangerous stuff for that amount of time.


Those are actually the isotopes that produce the power in the reactor, because short half-life means high activity, which means they produce the heat.

And those are the isotopes that then get consumed by the reactor. That's the point of the thing.
DavidW
2 / 5 (4) Sep 27, 2012
90% of nuclear waste is actually political waste.


"And nuclear energy, well, there is the always present risk of a meltdown, ala Chernobyl, Fukushima, Three Mile Island"

Funny how they never mention the Santa Susana Field Laboratory:

"The report also concluded that the SRE meltdown caused the release of more than 458 times the amount of radiation released by the Three Mile Island accident."
http://en.wikiped...boratory
http://ssflpanel.org/

With today's courts, it can take 50 years just to get access to get certified samples of the areas exposed, as in Simi Valley (Santa Susana), California. By that time, the people in the area have had long term exposure and many die and get sick. It's real.

Please don't be so quick to dismiss safety. :)
VendicarD
2.3 / 5 (6) Sep 27, 2012
Well, that is only 5 half lives.

Can't you wait that long?

"30 times tighter on the nuclear industry than anyone else." - Eikka

"90% of nuclear waste is actually political waste." - Eikka

Tell that to the people of Chernobyl.
roboferret
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 27, 2012
The safety feature is good, but this part:
the neutrons could be used to transmute the fuel waste into fissionable material that has a half life of just a couple hundred years, thereby greatly reducing the toxic threat.

Is not.

Because we most definitely don't have a clue about storing dangerous stuff for that amount of time. The state of current (nuclear) waste disposal sites (which need to be safe or thousands - not just hundreds of years) merely decades after waste disposal has started can attest to that.


We know how to build structures that last hundreds of years. Tens of thousands, not so much. So, yes, it is good news.
antialias_physorg
2.3 / 5 (4) Sep 27, 2012
We know how to build structures that last hundreds of years.

I'm really not convinced of that. Certainly not structures that are (with certainty!) proof against natural desasters.
Even natural formations aren't proof.

The salt mines in Asse have already started leaking. The stuff stored in there is mixed and dangerous when (not if) it reaches groundwater. Even though everyone agrees that it has to be relocated no one knows how to do it.
In the few decades there have been 29 water breaches which had to be actively sealed (and salt mines are said to be the 'best' places to store such waste. I hate to think what the alternatives are)

I'm not convinced we'll even be able to guarantee that someone will look after the storage places for all these hundreds of years - much less be able to patch them when necessary.

So Im really sceptical about this "We know how to build structures that last hundreds of years" statement.
tekram
not rated yet Sep 27, 2012
MYRRHA, a flexible fast spectrum research reactor (50-100 MWth) is conceived as an accelerator driven system (ADS), able to operate in sub-critical and critical modes. It contains a proton accelerator of 600 MeV, a spallation target and a multiplying core with MOX fuel, cooled by liquid lead-bismuth (Pb-Bi).
Three years (2020-2022) are foreseen for the full commissioning of the facility. The total investment cost is currently estimated at M€ 960 (€ 2009).
dschlink
5 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2012
Hundreds of years vs tens of thousands for current waste. We aren't talking about totally new waste, but waste transmuted. A factor of 100 improvement in containment time is a net gain.
Sanescience
5 / 5 (2) Sep 27, 2012
Yea, the Germans made a poor choice with Asse. In general the strategy of using uranium fuel until about 1-2% of its energy and declaring the remaining 98-99% as waste is a poor choice to.

But because people are ignorant fear controlled lemmings our nuclear energy research program that was 60 years ahead of almost everyone else was abandoned. The result being we were stuck with 1950's era designs that are horribly inefficient and unsafe became the de facto definition of the technology.

If cars had been frozen at their design level 60 years ago because they were "polluting" they would have a pretty poor public image as well.

I'm Guessing after 60 years of real improvements the modern car version of atomic power would produce minimal activated waste and be impossible to suffer a runaway reaction events.

Not to mention a mega valuable export industry of power technology for our economy.
roboferret
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 27, 2012

So Im really sceptical about this "We know how to build structures that last hundreds of years" statement.


There's one 800 years old within walking distance of my house. It has sandstone walls 4 feet thick. I'm pretty sure that with modern reinforced concrete we could create buildings that would last 200 years plus with no maintenance. I agree that the salt mines are a bad idea - putting them below the water table in permeable rock is short sighted.
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2012
Tell that to the people of Chernobyl


By far the biggest impact of Chernobyl on the population has been depression, alcoholism and suicide resulting from the poor handling of the situation by the Soviet government and various political organizations like Greenpeace who like to tell you how many people will die even though they haven't yet - just you wait.

When you're being told that you'll soon die of cancer and your children will be mutated freaks, it tends to make you a little sad, even though it's not really actually happening.

So far the incident has claimed 64 confirmed deaths in 2008, and it's now been 26 years since the accident. You'd think the increased cancer rates etc. would have surfaced by now, but they haven't. Not anywhere near the scale predicted by the scaremongers.
Eikka
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 28, 2012
Well, that is only 5 half lives. Can't you wait that long? "30 times tighter on the nuclear industry than anyone else."


The contamination limits have nothing to do with half-lives. It just measures the amount of radiation coming out of the material.

The hypocricy is, that if you have a tritium illuminated watch, which gives off a bit of radiation, and you wear it to a nuclear power station, technically you would have to put it in nuclear waste disposal on your way out because the limits are so strict. The stuff that they deem as low level nuclear waste can actually radiate less than the average natural background level.

If the same stuff comes out of a decommissioned natural gas turbine, you can just do whatever with it. Slightly radioactive fly ash from a coal plant? Make concrete and pour houses out of it.

When Sweden recycles steel from a nuclear plant, Greenpeace protests. When similiarly radioactive steel from an oil platform gets processed, nobody gives a s**t.
Meyer
4 / 5 (4) Sep 28, 2012
If cars had been frozen at their design level 60 years ago because they were "polluting" they would have a pretty poor public image as well.

Please find a way to fit this on a bumper sticker.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Sep 28, 2012
Funny how they never mention the Santa Susana Field Laboratory: "The report also concluded that the SRE meltdown caused the release of more than 458 times the amount of radiation released by the Three Mile Island accident."


And here is a perfect example of the kind of scaremongering I'm talking about.

The Three Mile Island released neglible amount of radioactive materials to the environment. 458 times practically nothing is still very little.

In numbers, the Three Mile Island accident exposed the people to an average of 1.4 mrem of radiation. Living in Denver instead of New York nets you 80 mrem a year just from the increased radiation from space at the higher altitude.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Sep 28, 2012
Please find a way to fit this on a bumper sticker.


"If cars were built like our nuclear stations, this would be a 1958 Ford Edsel"
Sigh
3 / 5 (1) Sep 28, 2012
This sort of technology can get energy out of what now is waste, and (as I understand it) reduce the total radiation output from waste. So my fellow Greens should be all in favour. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit persuading left to do.

Regarding political limits: I took a course in a lab using radioactive tracers shortly after Chernobyl. The legal limits for radioactivity in milk had been raised to protect the dairy industry, to the point where they were higher than the limits for what the lab was allowed to pour down the sink. So milk you were allowed to pour down your throat or down any other think legally had to be treated as radioactive waste once in the lab.

Because people are less rational than one might wish, the same goes for politics in a democracy, even without corporate lobbying. That is one of the prices you pay for democracy.
ShotmanMaslo
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 28, 2012
We know how to build structures that last hundreds of years.

I'm really not convinced of that. Certainly not structures that are (with certainty!) proof against natural desasters.
Even natural formations aren't proof.


There are many medieval cathedrals that already lasted for over 1000 years. 300 years building with modern technology is a piece of cake.
antialias_physorg
1.3 / 5 (3) Sep 28, 2012
There are many medieval cathedrals that already lasted for over 1000 years.

And there are many that have collapsed in that time. The point is not to build something that MIGHT last 300 years. The point is to build something that WILL last 300 years with great certainty - no matter what kind of earthquake, tsunami, volcano, nuclear war, water breach, terrorist attack, etc. will happen.

And THAT challenge is one we are in no way up to.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.5 / 5 (22) Sep 28, 2012
And THAT challenge is one we are in no way up to.

You are being unduly pessimistic and insufficiently pragmatic. This stuff already exists and more is being produced every day. No better way of forcing the development of new tech and learning more about the world, than a problem that you have no choice but to address (like invading armies.)

" Long term behavior of radioactive wastes remains a subject for ongoing research projects in geoforecasting."

-I am sure there is already a name for this dilemma. A dangerous tech or tactic that nevertheless HAS to be mastered before your adversaries have the chance to do so. Because if you don't, they WILL, and they will use it against you; militarily, economically, politically.

There is NO WAY to avoid fissiles. And so the storage of waste is something we will need to learn to live with.
roboferret
4 / 5 (4) Sep 28, 2012
There are many medieval cathedrals that already lasted for over 1000 years.

And there are many that have collapsed in that time. The point is not to build something that MIGHT last 300 years. The point is to build something that WILL last 300 years with great certainty - no matter what kind of earthquake, tsunami, volcano, nuclear war, water breach, terrorist attack, etc. will happen.

And THAT challenge is one we are in no way up to.


We know what areas are prone to natural disasters. If you keep away from geologically active areas, you are not going to get earthquakes or volcanos. Avoid low lying coastal areas, and you can avoid tsunamis. Granite has done a great job of containing radioactivity for millions of years, and 50 foot of it is going to protect against anything except a direct nuclear groundburst - in which case you have more pressing concerns.
In any case, our chances of storing it for less than 1000 years is far better than the same for 10ky .
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (20) Sep 28, 2012
"How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb." -dr strangelove
Meyer
1 / 5 (1) Sep 28, 2012
There are many medieval cathedrals that already lasted for over 1000 years. 300 years building with modern technology is a piece of cake.

Sure, build a few hundred concrete structures and some will probably last 300 years through wars and natural disasters, but this approach won't work with nuclear waste. I'm sure it can be done, but has to be done right the first time. Also, the entrance should be labeled with warnings in numerous languages and pictograms that future explorers won't interpret as an ancient cure or prayer to the fertility goddess.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (19) Sep 28, 2012
Granite has done a great job of containing radioactivity
Why would you think granite was  preferable? It is expensive to excavate. Yucca mountain is volcanic tuff. Salt has also been considered.

"The proposed land-based subductive waste disposal method disposes of nuclear waste in a subduction zone accessed from land, and therefore is not prohibited by international agreement. This method has been described as the most viable means of disposing of radioactive waste"

-Also remix and return, deep borehole, and transmutation are being explored. We might want to put it somewhere where we can reclaim it should we find good uses for it in the future.
http://en.wikiped...of_waste
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2012
No better way of forcing the development of new tech and learning more about the world, than a problem that you have no choice but to address (like invading armies.)

I prefer a slower pace of progress if it means my life isn't on the line all the time.

One of these days one of those actions might prove to be too big to handle (global warming? GM food?) - and then it's 'game over' for the species.
Taking that chance is definitely not worth it for faster technological progress.

Sure, build a few hundred concrete structures and some will probably last 300 years through wars and natural disasters,

So? Which of these few hundred structures are you going to put the waste in? What language/symbol will be (definitely) readable in 300 years?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.3 / 5 (19) Sep 28, 2012
I prefer a slower pace of progress if it means my life isn't on the line all the time.
You continue to struggle with the concept of 'Inevitability'. I attribute this to cultural pervasion of a god who promises us that nothing is inevitable.

Our lives and the existance of our civilization are both continuously on the line. This is a race not casual stroll on the beach.
http://www.youtub...a_player
http://www.youtub...a_player
roboferret
3.5 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2012
There are many medieval cathedrals that already lasted for over 1000 years. 300 years building with modern technology is a piece of cake.

Sure, build a few hundred concrete structures and some will probably last 300 years through wars and natural disasters, but this approach won't work with nuclear waste. I'm sure it can be done, but has to be done right the first time. Also, the entrance should be labeled with warnings in numerous languages and pictograms that future explorers won't interpret as an ancient cure or prayer to the fertility goddess.


That would certainly be the case for 10,000 years, but not 300. We have no problem reading texts written 300 years ago. Our culture and language is unlikely to change unrecognisably in that amount of time. We are only talking less than half a dozen lifetimes. My last house was nearly that old.
Meyer
not rated yet Sep 28, 2012
Sure, build a few hundred concrete structures and some will probably last 300 years through wars and natural disasters,

So? Which of these few hundred structures are you going to put the waste in? What language/symbol will be (definitely) readable in 300 years?

You forgot to quote the rest of my sentence. Here it is:
but this approach won't work with nuclear waste.

The second question is why I said it should be written in numerous languages, so there is a better chance of someone being able to read it. (And I meant to say "curse", not "cure".)
roboferret
not rated yet Sep 28, 2012
Why would you think granite was  preferable? It is expensive to excavate.

Thats kind of the point. Its tough and impermeable, and kind of radioactive already. I guess it's case of balancing the cost against the risks, as with all methods.

Yucca mountain is volcanic tuff.

Cool beans.


Salt has also been considered.

Fine if you can keep the water out.


"The proposed land-based subductive waste disposal method disposes of nuclear waste in a subduction zone accessed from land, and therefore is not prohibited by international agreement. This method has been described as the most viable means of disposing of radioactive waste"

That is interesting, I've often wondered about the possibility of dumping waste in subduction zones. I was unsure whether the instability of these areas might be a problem, these zones are where the worst earthquakes originate, and you couldn't be 100% sure the waste wouldn't pop up nearby in a volcano or vent.
antialias_physorg
2.3 / 5 (4) Sep 28, 2012
Our culture and language is unlikely to change unrecognisably

Give a kid born today a comic from the year 2000 when it reaches reading age.

I bet one of the questions will be:
"Daddy, what's that thing above the guy's head in the picture?"
"Son, that's a lightbulb. It symbolizes that the guy in the picture has an idea. We used these to make light. They haven't been around since you were born."

Symbols can change very fast or become unrecognizable. So can language. Especially as we get more and more connected and language trends can spread a lot quicker. don't expect the slow pace of the past 300 years to be an indication of what the next 300 will bring.
Meyer
3 / 5 (1) Sep 28, 2012
That would certainly be the case for 10,000 years, but not 300. We have no problem reading texts written 300 years ago. Our culture and language is unlikely to change unrecognisably in that amount of time. We are only talking less than half a dozen lifetimes. My last house was nearly that old.

My concern isn't really that people won't be able to read it in 300 years, but that the facility might be forgotten by then and discovered some time later. The mixture isn't stable in 300 years. That's just how long it takes for the extremely radioactive components to reach negligible levels. If something happens and civilization has to reset, it won't help the recovery if future explorers discover "artifacts" made of uranium and plutonium.

On another note, such a site might be a good place to preserve important scientific knowledge. (Assuming they can read it and don't think it's a list of prayers to Electra and Proteus.)
eachus
4 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2012
This is one of those non-issues which result from people (politicians) who are unwilling to look into the science. Actually, the category is really those who don't understand math. Radiation comes in flavors: alpha, beta, gamma, and neutrons. It also comes in different energy levels: MeV (millions of electron volts): potentially dangerous, keV(thousands of eV): not so much, eV: who cares. For example that spark when you rub your feet on the carpet? Beta (electrons) in the keV range.

Alpha particles are helium nuclei, and are easily stopped by the skin, even in the MeV range. Below that? If you have ever done the squeaky voice thing with a helium balloon, you have inhaled thousands of years of radiation from high level waste--and breathed it out again. Beta radiation (electrons) is the same way, you have to get above the energy levels in nuclear waste to get through the skin. Gamma radiation is more penetrating, but again the energy level is important.
eachus
5 / 5 (3) Sep 28, 2012
Neutrons are uncharged particles that can sail right through the skin. They have a half-life measured in minutes, but... most of the neutron emitting material in the waste was dug out of the ground in the first place. It will go on emitting neutrons for billions or trillions of years, just like it does in the granite of my home state.

The main radiation from "high level" waste comes from decay chains where an alpha particle (He) is emitted followed by two beta particles (electrons). There are often gamma rays emitted from the excited nucleii, but these are in the keV to low MeV range.

In other words, you could have a cask of high-level waste sitting in your backyard, and you would get more radiation exposure from the rocks. More than that from cosmic rays and their secondary showers, even more from the carbon-14 in the air that you breathe. The carbon-14 is nasty in that it can be incorporated into a gene, and when it decays to nitrogen, that causes a chemical change in the gene
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (22) Sep 28, 2012
Thats kind of the point. Its tough and impermeable, and kind of radioactive already. I guess it's case of balancing the cost against the risks, as with all methods.
No, Im saying why would you even posit that knowing that engineers and scientists have already THOROUGHLY explored the subject and that this info is readily available online? They spent nearly $2B studying yucca mt.

If you get a notion you OUGHT to do a little research before dumping it here. What is the point of making stuff up?
That is interesting, I've often wondered about the possibility of dumping waste in subduction zones.
SO WHY not LOOK IT UP? Bloody fucking hell-

Here let me help
https://www.googl...ie=UTF-8
Estevan57
1.9 / 5 (23) Sep 28, 2012
Wow otto, you sure are a mean little shit.

And your google link doesn't work. Like your pesky genitals.
unknownorgin
1 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2012
The safety advantage of an accelerator neutron source is that it is an eletronic system that can shut down neutron flow at least a million times faster than current mechanical graphite control rod systems.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (6) Sep 29, 2012
Tell that to the people of Chernobyl
@Eikka So far the incident has claimed 64 confirmed deaths in 2008, and it's now been 26 years since the accident.
You're a liar. There have been 985,000 deaths from Chernobyl. I would like to see you forced to eat the contaminated meat and fruit from there sold in Moscow market as I did.

The western figures come from only 350 articles which were in English. There are over 5000 articles and the willingness of westerns to brush aside a million deaths is in keeping with their colonialist roots. Russia is not yours to be dictated.
ShotmanMaslo
3 / 5 (4) Sep 29, 2012
You're a liar. There have been 985,000 deaths from Chernobyl.


Complete BS. About your source:

The book was not peer reviewed by the New York Academy of Sciences.[4][5] Five reviews were published in the academic press, with four of them considering the book severely flawed and contradictory, and one praising it while noting some shortcomings. The review by M. I. Balonov published by the New York Academy of Sciences concludes that the value of the report is negative, because it has very little scientific merit while being highly misleading to the lay reader. It also characterized the estimate of nearly a million deaths as more in the realm of science fiction than science.[6]


http://en.wikiped...ironment
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Sep 29, 2012
The point is to build something that WILL last 300 years with great certainty - no matter what kind of earthquake, tsunami, volcano, nuclear war, water breach, terrorist attack, etc. will happen.


No. That is not the point. That's just a red herring - demanding absolute security of the final deposit building knowing full well such things cannot be made - when it isn't even necessary. You're just making the Nirvana Fallacy and hoping no-one would notice.

In reality, what little material ends up as waste, you drill a long hole in the bottom of the sea and drop it there. Even if the containment breaks and starts to leak, it will still take more than 300 years for it to seep through to the outside, by which time it will have become mostly harmless.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (20) Sep 29, 2012
Wow otto, you sure are a mean little shit.

And your google link doesn't work. Like your pesky genitals.
Estevan. Champion of the lazy, the inconsiderate, the vandal, the troll, the ignorant, the stupid, the liar.

Are you Jesus esai?

Oh you have to actually click on the link, not just stare at it. But I suppose if you were Jesus you could open it with your mind. Perhaps Jesus IS google?
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.4 / 5 (18) Sep 29, 2012
you drill a long hole in the bottom of the sea and drop it there.

"Sea-based options for disposal of radioactive waste include burial beneath a stable abyssal plain, burial in a subduction zone that would slowly carry the waste downward into the Earth's mantle, and burial beneath a remote natural or human-made island. While these approaches all have merit and would facilitate an international solution to the problem of disposal of radioactive waste, they would require an amendment of the Law of the Sea.
Article 1 (Definitions), 7., of the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, (the London Dumping Convention) states:
"Sea" means all marine waters other than the internal waters of States, as well as the seabed and the subsoil thereof; it does not include sub-seabed repositories accessed only from land."

-See? Even eikka does not bother with research.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (5) Sep 29, 2012
Complete BS. About your source:
True BS is silly English-only speakers who don't comprehend the body of research available outside their tiny fishbowl. You're a danger to yourself and others.
antialias_physorg
1.3 / 5 (4) Sep 29, 2012
demanding absolute security of the final deposit building knowing full well such things cannot be made - when it isn't even necessary.

I'm demanding sensible security for stuff we leave to for future generations to take care of.
(besides dumping all the maintenance work, cost and risk in their laps without any gain - which in itself should already make it quite clear to anyone who is even rmeotely human that we shouldn't be doing this at all)

That some structures (like churches) have have withstood long periods of time isn't enough. many did not. (And many of those that did had to have major overhauls/repairs in all that time)

Producing nuclear waste just doesn't make any sense, Economically, morally or technically.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (22) Sep 29, 2012
Producing nuclear waste just doesn't make any sense, Economically, morally or technically.
No it makes sense economically, morally AND technically. We are on a one-way street here. We have long since committed to a techno civilization. Without nuclear tech this civilization would collapse and billions would die. Period. We need to believe that future gens will solve the problems we necessarily have to create for them.

We need nuclear to get off this planet and colonize the system. If we remain here we die. No other choice.

Sorry I just finished the walkthrough of mass effect 3 and I'm feeling a little dramatic. Shepherd will never die! Death to Reapers!
Eikka
5 / 5 (3) Sep 29, 2012
Producing nuclear waste just doesn't make any sense, Economically, morally or technically.


Releasing CO2 makes even less sense, because the end results will be worse.

You have to ask, what's the worst thing that can happen? The containment breaks and a bit of radiation leaks - what then? Is it the end of the world?

No it isn't. You can deal with it.

You have to deal with it, like you have to deal with the millions of people who currently die before their time because of burning coal and other fossil fuels, which release more radioactive particles than all of the nuclear tests and all of the nuclear accidents ever have.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (5) Sep 29, 2012
@Eikka Releasing CO2 makes even less sense, because the end results will be worse.
The CO2 will dissipate in a century. Your radioactive ecoterrorism will linger for hundreds of thousands of years.
You have to ask, what's the worst thing that can happen?
The worst? That you propeller heads get an attentive audience.
Eikka
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 29, 2012

While these approaches all have merit and would facilitate an international solution to the problem of disposal of radioactive waste, they would require an amendment of the Law of the Sea.

-See? Even eikka does not bother with research.


Just goes to show that time and again, nuclear waste is a political problem, not a technical or a practical problem.

In any case, the same pricinple holds for land based disposal. Dig a deep enough hole, below the water tables, fill it, and it'll take at least 300 years before anything gets up from there.
Eikka
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 29, 2012
The CO2 will dissipate in a century. Your radioactive ecoterrorism will linger for hundreds of thousands of years.


And when exactly do you think we can stop releasing CO2?

And did you not get the point that the remaining waste would not remain active for more than few hundred years?
Parsec
3 / 5 (4) Sep 30, 2012
The safety feature is good, but this part:
the neutrons could be used to transmute the fuel waste into fissionable material that has a half life of just a couple hundred years, thereby greatly reducing the toxic threat.

Is not.

Because we most definitely don't have a clue about storing dangerous stuff for that amount of time. The state of current (nuclear) waste disposal sites (which need to be safe or thousands - not just hundreds of years) merely decades after waste disposal has started can attest to that.

The amount of toxic waste generated is tiny on comparison to the amount of fuel consumed. Generally speaking, perhaps 5-10 tons per year for a reactor generating 1000mw. Thats enormous amount of power and existing techniques to entomb the waste are more than sufficent. Don't pro0ject your lack of knowledge into a lack of acceptability.
Parsec
4 / 5 (4) Sep 30, 2012
Actually, you could simply take a ton of waste, mix it with 100 tons of sand, vitrify it (mix it all together and convert it to glass), and store it on the white house lawn for all the harm it would be to anyone.

Getting rid of a few hundren tons of waste, no matter how toxic is not the real problem at all. The real problem is the hundreds of millions of tons of radiactive carbon ash from coal generating plants (yes coal power plant waste has enough radioactivity to worry about), and the hundreds of thousands of tons of low level waste generated when nuclear plants are maintained or dismanted.

These are the real problems. The people concerned about high level toxic waste are mostly know nothings. Chenobyl was a horrible disaster wating to happen. Its very design was flawed and scientists around the world predicted a meltdown decades before it actually happened, exactly as predicted.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (5) Sep 30, 2012
The deal is that waste that can become aerated or dispersed belongs nowhere near a populated area. At the rate humans are reproducing much of the hospitable terrain will be settled within a few lifetimes. Unless the waste is as inert as cinder blocks it doesn't belong anywhere on or under land. Launching it into space is prohibitive and fraught with incredible risk. Encapsulating in glass won't work given the propensity of countries like the US which have a predilection for MOABs and bunker busters which can turn this waste into an aerosol.

In short, there is no safe storage for nuclear pollution. Reducing the volume isn't going to eliminate it's lethality.
ShotmanMaslo
2.7 / 5 (3) Sep 30, 2012
"At the rate humans are reproducing much of the hospitable terrain will be settled within a few lifetimes."

Birth rates are sharply falling all over the world.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 01, 2012
Actually, you could simply take a ton of waste, mix it with 100 tons of sand, vitrify it (mix it all together and convert it to glass), and store it on the white house lawn for all the harm it would be to anyone.

Even glas isn't immune to the elements, which means you still have to store it in a safe place (agaib: no such place exists where we can be sure the stuff is safe for the hundreds (or even thousands) of years it needs to be)

And yes: vitrification is a viable process. But instead of hundreds of tons you now have huindreds of thousands of tons that need looking after for all that time.

I seriously doubt the 2.1 cent per kilowatt gained even remotely cover the storage costs (even under the most optimal of circumstance where you never have to touch the stuff or the storage site ever again).
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (18) Oct 01, 2012
And so what we do is we put it back where it came from. Remix and return. We could put it in natural asbestos deposits or amongst lead ore so maybe nobody will notice. These areas are usually high in radon emissions which is also a plus.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.8 / 5 (16) Oct 01, 2012
And so what we do is we put it back where it came from. Remix and return. We could put it in natural asbestos deposits or amongst lead ore so maybe nobody will notice. These areas are usually high in radon emissions which is also a plus.
But I suppose antialias is expecting us to remediate all this nasty and dangerous stuff as well. So that future generations of throwbacks don't unwittingly hurt themselves. Perhaps we should fence off all rivers and beaches in perpetuity. Somehow. But what about lightening?? And snakes-
kochevnik
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 02, 2012
@ShotmanMaslo Birth rates are sharply falling all over the world.
But not births outright. Mass famines are already beginning, and births will grow wherever there aren't famines and wars due to the religious element which advocates unsustainable, exponential growth.