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Earth Power Science Technology

Planned Nuclear Reactors Will Destroy Atomic Waste 344

separsons writes "A group of French scientists are developing a nuclear reactor that burns up actinides — highly radioactive uranium isotopes. They estimate that 'the volume of high-level nuclear waste produced by all of France’s 58 reactors over the past 40 years could fit in one Olympic-size swimming pool.' And they're not the only ones trying to eliminate atomic waste: Researchers at the University of Texas in Austin are working on a fusion-fission reactor. The reactor destroys waste by firing streams of neutrons at it, reducing atomic waste by up to 99 percent!"
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Planned Nuclear Reactors Will Destroy Atomic Waste

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  • Doesn't matter (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AnonGCB ( 1398517 ) <7spams AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:16PM (#31576404)
    The anti-nuclear group will always come up with something to deter nuclear plants from taking off.
  • by Muckluck ( 759718 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:18PM (#31576450)
    Nuclear, like it or not, is the intermediate solution to first world energy needs. As long as we can mitigate past mistakes (sloppy arms races) with technology such as this, nuclear will also have a promising future.
  • Not helping (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gertlex ( 722812 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:19PM (#31576458)

    Educating, not sensationalizing, is what the nuclear industry needs. Or at least not exclamation marks.

    Alas, I can can guarantee you that 1: it will take another decade minimum of legal wrangling to get large-scale stuff like this in the works
    2: This type of research in general is old news. It's still viable, but from reading the summary (I'm lazy) it doesn't seem to be anything new that I haven't heard of before.

    P.S. I don't consider myself knowledgeable enough to be one who does the educating. (Oh wait, I don't need credentials to educate on the internet, do I? :P )

  • clean nuclear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:30PM (#31576592) Journal

    Clean nuclear is far more realistic than the fantasy that is clean coal.

  • by arcite ( 661011 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:32PM (#31576612)
    I don't care if coal outputs an order of magnitude of radiation than all of the nuclear reactors combined. I don't care if the number of terrorists in the world will be stopped by reducing access to this deadly radioactive material. I don't even care if we are entrusting the French (yea the FRENCH!) with coming up with a solution to the world's power generation problems and global warming at the same time. No sir! I'm thinking of the Children. The C-H-I-L-D-R-E-N! And they are not too happy about this development. Even the children have a right to die of lung cancer in 50 years from the filthy air like the rest of us. Remember 3 mile island! The end is near! The march of socialism is upon us! They're coming for you! ... Ah gosh darn it, who am I foolooin? Ok I give up, Obama just passed health care I guess this isn't the end times after all. There's always 2012!
  • Re:and yet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mirix ( 1649853 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:40PM (#31576722)

    I don't see a problem with diversifying. I assume we'll run out of fissionable material at some date, and if solar can help slow that down, then bring it on.

  • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:49PM (#31576818)

    "I guess we don't have you to thank for civil rights, women's rights and now healthcare. I mean, why bother ?"

    Those are emotional issues, which attract the same sort of emotional activists who HATE nuclear power. Their particular flavor of idealistic outlook is not pro-technology.

    Come up with something that uses solar, ponies, or solar ponies and they might bite.

  • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeng ( 926980 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @05:53PM (#31576868)

    Come up with something that uses solar, ponies, or solar ponies and they might bite.

    And then you'll have the animal right activists complaining.

  • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:02PM (#31576980)
    Because they hate progress, not nuclear power. If the general public could understand who really apposes Nuclear power and their reasons are simply that they want to return us to some mythical agrarian society where everyone lives off vegetables they grow in their back yards and spends the evening reading books and listening to bluegrass, I think we might have a chance. But as-is they just associate any nuclear reaction with BOMB and all the sheep get scared.
  • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:07PM (#31577038)

    And the times before that it was Reagan and Bush Sr. who killed the breeder reactor research project. And before that is was Carter. This is not a partisan issue, both parties are equally retarded in respect to nuclear power.

  • See? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RoboRay ( 735839 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:11PM (#31577070)

    Some of us have been saying for decades that another way to say "nuclear waste" is "nuclear fuel." The current view of "spent" fuel is akin to refining crude oil to make gasoline and then having to store all the waste diesel, fuel oil and other petroleum byproducts until the end of time.

  • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:13PM (#31577092) Homepage

    No one ever mentions the other possible solution: Use less energy.

    That's because it isn't a solution. Unless you're also going to somehow make there be fewer people, and have them do less, with fewer luxuries like sanitation and refrigeration, it won't work. Energy powers civilization. Hybrid cars, taking the train, fluorescent lighting, and turning the thermostat down to 68F/20C in the winter is not going to make a fart in a thunderstorm worth of difference where it really matters. A ridiculously optimistic projection would have it reduce our dependence on coal from 60% to 40%. That doesn't solve the problem, it just puts it off a little longer. Reducing power use enough to where we can all live on fluffy bunny wind generators and happy little solar panels essentially requires us to throw away the very technological pyramid which supports the manufacture those very same windmills and panels. There simply isn't enough "waste" to make conservation a workable plan for fulfilling our future energy needs.

  • by chromatic ( 9471 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:22PM (#31577190) Homepage

    Unless you're also going to somehow make there be fewer people, and have them do less, with fewer luxuries like sanitation and refrigeration, [conservation alone] won't work.

    That's the dirty little secret a lot of green leaders don't mention; they believe a severe population reduction is inevitable, sometimes even necessary.

  • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:44PM (#31577398)

    Most people do not hate animal testing, just unnecessary cruelty and waste. Destroying animals that are no danger to others and would make suitable pets is one example. Another is not sharing data properly so many different labs conduct the same tests on similar animals. Even worse are tests that seem to serve no purpose, for instance dripping known irritants into the eyes of rabbits. When animal testing is done in a rational and ethical manner few would oppose it.

  • by bjourne ( 1034822 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @06:49PM (#31577456) Homepage Journal
    Despite the intentions of the summary to say otherwise, the volume of an olympic swimming pool is actually a lot. For example, all gold ever mined would also fit in an a pool of that size. The comparision is therefore meaningless. A better comparision would be the *area* required to safely store all that nuclear waste. That area is orders of magnitudes larger than the area of an olympic swimming pool.
  • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld@gm a i l . c om> on Monday March 22, 2010 @07:15PM (#31577720) Homepage
    The anti-nuclear group will always come up with something to deter nuclear plants from taking off.

    And the pro-nuclear group will always have a reason why nuclear plants are never a danger, any accident would never happen again, and nuclear waste is absolutely no problem because waste from burning coal is more radioactive, so that means concentrated nuclear waste has to be safer than diffuse coal plant waste, just like a glass of arsenic is safer to drink than a glass of sea water because there's more arsenic in the ocean than in a glass of arsenic. Strawmen are fun on both sides!
  • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) <> on Monday March 22, 2010 @07:35PM (#31577904)

    Carter is the stupidest of them all, because he had the education to at least know he was making a retarded decision.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @08:47PM (#31578486)

    Using energy more efficiently isn't a solution in itself, but it can be part of a solution. If you can cut energy use by just 30%, that's 30% fewer nuclear power plants we'll need to build.

    No, if we can cut energy use by 30% (try it sometime, by the way), then that's 30% more coal plants we can shut down after we build some nuclear plants.

  • by koxkoxkox ( 879667 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @09:13PM (#31578668)

    Why is it a little dirty secret ? It is pretty evident, isn't it ? If the population is smaller, everyone has a bigger part of the global cake.

  • by DubbaEwwTeeEff ( 1481205 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @09:50PM (#31578904)

    "Succeed on its own merits..." Boy, that's a laugh.

    The US nuclear industry has lagged behind because for the past 50 years, the regulatory and political environment allowed anti-nuclear activists to delay the completion of plants indefinitely. You can't make a profit from a power plant without actually producing power; the anti-nuclear groups simply stalled the completion of plants until the companies gave up on the existing projects and walked away. Nobody tried to start new projects because they weren't willing to risk $10 billion on what might amount to a really ugly paperweight.

    The nuclear industry never had a chance to succeed on its own merits. If they halted after they lost the taxpayer handout, it was because that was the only thing left letting them make a profit.

  • Re:Doesn't matter (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @11:06PM (#31579336)

    The Liberal Feel Goods hate everything

  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Monday March 22, 2010 @11:17PM (#31579404)

    What? And take away their last best hope to control the world through manufactured crisis?

    Population bomb?...bust
    Nuclear Winter?...phhssssaaaa
    Ozone hole?...They still don't know what's going on with that.
    Swine/Bird flu?...flew the coop.
    AIDS?...Only people getting that now are the ones who go putting things where they don't belong.

    If you take away AGW, I suspect there will be millions of depressed and unemployed activists.

  • by IAN ( 30 ) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:44AM (#31580852)

    The US nuclear industry has lagged behind because for the past 50 years, the regulatory and political environment allowed anti-nuclear activists to delay the completion of plants indefinitely.

    Oh the hyperbole. 50 years ago (53 for you nitpickers) Shippingport came online. You know, "the first fully civilian nuclear reactor." Nuclear power industry was just starting to appear, and the "regulatory and political environment" was anything but inimical to it. Rather gung-ho, in fact.

    The past 30 years instead of 50? Probably. But not without good reason. An industry mired in secrecy and obfuscation stemming from its military origins, where screw-ups can happen and are serious -- potentially disastrous -- if they do, does not inspire confidence. Neither does pooh-poohing genuine concerns. "Waste? Oh, that's easy, we'll just reprocess it!" Sure. Hanford did that for years. Recovered tons of weapons fuel, ended up with additional megatons of extremely nasty waste. (Ditto Sellafield in the UK and La Hague in France.) There are better ways to do it for civilian use, and actinide burners may be one of them, which is why they should be built and studied; but they -- and all other things nuclear -- should not be presented as a silver bullet, in an arrogant and condescending tone.

    Some may get an impression that I am too opposed to nuclear power. Not in the least. IMO, nuclear is the only sufficiently plentiful energy supply which we can comfortably use for the next thousand years, and is not geographically or otherwise limited like solar or wind. But it is not without risks, and while those risks should not be overstated (like the shrillest environmentalists do), they should not be swept under the carpet, either.

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun