Nuclear Engine to Change Nuclear Future, Simplify Waste Issue – InsideSources

I am a fan of nuclear energy because it is cheap and reliable. They can be storm hardened, can “store on site” 6 months to almost 2 years worth of power, and provide reliable baseload power. All of NY’s reactors were running at 100% during the various storm events this past winter that knocked other gemerators offline.

I am not a fan of nuclear energy because of the fact that we don’t know what to do with the waste products and every commercial reactor in operation uses a design from the 1960s that is simplistic, costly, and wasteful.

In the 1960s, Oak Ridge experimented with thorium cycle designs. They could be superior to our current uranium cycle designs in many ways. If nothing else, there is a lot more known recoverable thorium than uranium. The problem is that they need much more development to overcome their own problems that limit their commercial viability.

More modern designs for regular fission reactors, called take advantage of decades of development in material science to make the reactors more stable and safe. The question remains on what to do with the waste. I do not have an answer for that. Some uranium and some thorium reactor designs can clean up some of the worst waste by reburning it in these other reactors. Many countries, including the US, China, Japan, and others are working on thorium designs. Many companies are as well.

These guys may have an alternative that only has waste that is dangerous for 30 years. They are currently running a test reactor. I hope it proves out and that waste turns out to have a half life of only 30 years as opposed to the thousands of years for our current reactors.

Their design is unique as they are trying to make a more mechanical engine type of a reactor that could directly spin a shaft that would then spin a electric generator. That’s cool amd more efficient. I hope it works out.

I will say that I prefer to hope that the fusion reactors under development by many companies amd countries including the international effort ITER are all working on making the perennial 30 years away much sooner. We will see. Fusion reactions do not produce the kinds of waste that fission does amd they can’t explode. They do produce some waste but not a lot.

Calculations suggest that at about 1 kilogram (2.2 lb), the total amount of tritium and other radioactive gases in a typical power station would be so small that they would have diluted to legally acceptable limits by the time they blew as far as the station’s perimeter fence.

So, I have hopes for this new fusion tech, and I think some new fission tech may be good enough to use.

As I said, I love nuclear power because it is cheap, reliable, and you don’t have to refuel it often. Energy costs underly everything we use and do. Lowering them is good for everyone.

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