Nuclear waste

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by JOhnH, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Setting aside the argument of whether nuclear power should be used or not, the big question right now is where to store the waste material for the next million years.
    https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/30/europe/germany-nuclear-waste-grm-intl/index.html

    For those that know more than I do, what would be the logistical problems with launching it into space? Maybe not today, but in the next couple of decades when we should have some bigger, cheaper launch vehicles. (and I realize that "cheaper" is a very relative term).

    Of course though, we might just upset some alien civilization if it comes crashing down on their heads, but I suspect mankind will not even be around by then.
     
  2. Sac Arrow

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    At some point, maybe nucular waste can be refined and reused. Mang.
     
  3. Kenny Phillips

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    The total physical volume is rather low; I believe that all of it that cannot be re-refined could easily fit in an underground cavern in, say, Pjöngjang.
    Its mass, however, would preclude launching it into space, since you need to actually bust it out of Earth's gravity.
    And of course we should use nuclear power.
     
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  4. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    Society has blocked transporting nuclear waste an underground facility and you think launching into space will be acceptable. Good luck with that.
     
  5. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    What have they been doing with the waste now? They've had to replace the fuel rods around every 3 years while running those reactors. They won't be making any more spent fuel.
     
  6. kyleb

    kyleb En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I think that's a reasonable idea until we think about the reliability of launch vehicles. Basically, you couldn't afford any launch failures because you don't want spent fuel spread across a huge swath of the earth.
     
  7. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Think breakup at liftoff/launch.
     
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  8. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    That is certainly the main problem. The second biggest problem is the sheer mass. But storing it for a million years seems rather unrealistic too. Technology will have to be developed some day to handle this problem. Anything we encase it in and bury it in is sure to leak within the first thousand years or so. But then again, who cares what happens in a thousand years?
     
  9. cowman

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    As I understand it, they can re-process spent fuel into usable again but the result is weapons grade which is an issue due to human political factors.

    What I don't understand is if climate change is such a monstrous disastrous problem as is claimed why aren't we building more nuclear plants? The newer reactor designs are a lot safer and even with the, IMO only marginal, risk it's a lot better to have a meltdown somewhere than the wide-scale disasters they say are coming. Wind and solar are great and all but they can't carry the big base load.
     
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  10. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I was trying to avoid that topic and stick with what to do with the waste, because I would prefer the thread not get locked or deleted.
    Do you think we can discuss the pros and cons of nuclear power without getting slapped down?
    btw, I agree with you completely.
     
  11. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Pattern Altitude

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    It is an unfortunate situation, Solving a problem (cheaper reliable electricity) by creating an unsolvable problem. Currently our local nuke plant I think stores spent fuel rods onsite.
    I like the idea of blasting into space or into the sun but like Elon Musk said being interviewed after one of his rockets crashed “space is hard”. Hopefully future technology will find a use for this stuff that we never could-but that really shouldn’t be the plan on how to handle the waste we created
    -shortsighted Imo.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
  12. Dana

    Dana Cleared for Takeoff

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    Back in the early days of oil refining in the 19th century, one of the fractions was considered dangerous and useless so they simply burned it off to get rid of it. Today we call it "gasoline".
     
  13. Matthew

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    AFAIK it’s stored on-site. Without anywhere else to put it, it’s just stored locally.

    Yucca Mountain brought in lots of money to Nevada, Harry Reid was Senator then. And when it was ready to be used the plug was pulled.



    A guy, much smarter than I, suggested encasing the waste in glass and dropping it into the Marianas Trench. Tectonic plate subduction would return it where it came from.
     
  14. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    About 30 years ago, the new business group I worked in at Boeing was developing a concept for space disposal of nuclear waste. I didn't actually work the study, I was just in the same room and some of my co-workers were on the project.

    Anyway, the concept used the Shuttle to take the waste to orbit. It would be embedded in large solid spheres able to withstand water impact if the shuttle had a launch failure. I don't remember the actual size/weight of the spheres, but thinking back to the diagrams I saw, I'd say they were the size of a large exercise ball. Two would be carried in the shuttle, mounted on the aft side of the forward bulkhead.

    However, the diagrams did not include integrated boosters to run the balls to a higher altitude or send them into the sun. Not sure what was planned. Shuttle altitudes would have been too low; they would have re-entered after several years at best.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  15. EdFred

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    Getting to the sun is notoriously expensive energy wise. Takes about 3-4 times more delta-v to get to the sun than it does to get into orbit. Be better to find a subduction zone and recycle it into the mantle.
     
  16. cowman

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    IDK, I mean the waste and a small tiny risk of meltdown are the only cons to me. Large scale reliable carbon neutral power would seem to be a gigantic pro but I'm not everyone.

    Whatever happened with that? Is it impossible or cost prohibitive to start the program back up again? Seemed like as reasonable a solution as any.
     
  17. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    Store it at Chernobyl, it is already hosed.
     
  18. Palmpilot

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    There's at least one prominent climate scientist who agrees with you.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/...ts-debate-best-path-forward-for-clean-energy/

    That's one of the subjects of debate discussed in the above article.
     
  19. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Politics - large scale NIMBY. OR flawed design and bad science. Depends on who you believe.
     
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  20. Let'sgoflying!

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  21. Half Fast

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    Or think launch abort into the Atlantic.
     
  22. olasek

    olasek Pattern Altitude

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    It is the victim of not in my neighborhood syndrome.
     
  23. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    Duh, store it on the moon...what could happen? Space 1999 is on Amazon now LOL!

    Too bad we can't get directly into the core of our planet...like @Matthew said but quicker. Everyone knows that putting our junk into something really, really hot makes the problem go away :)
     
  24. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

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    Fly it round and round in B-52's circling Greenland and Alaska. If there aren't enough B-52s, we could always put the B-36 back in production - Stick to proven nuclear transport systems.
     
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  25. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Since uranium was originally mined, why not just return spent byproducts to the mines, mixing it in with the earth?

    I get that most of the fuel and weapons are in the form of plutonium, which was almost all produced from uranium, but it seems like the concept would still apply.
     
  26. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    My thought is sink it in the gap between the tectonic plates just off of Chili and let it be subducted under South America.
     
  27. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You mean the same way we dumped industrial waste into the rivers?
     
  28. Let'sgoflying!

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    The people who use it should take a little of the waste home every month.
     
  29. patrick wentworth

    patrick wentworth Pre-takeoff checklist

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  30. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    Liquid sodium vs PW...creepy!
     
  31. Tarheelpilot

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    That guy bill gates is an idiot. Everyone with any common sense knows nuclear is evil. Wind and solar are king.
     
  32. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    One thing we could do is show a bit more intelligence in what we call nuclear waste. My first job after college was overhauling and refueling nuclear submarines. One of the first things done was to remove the coolant from the reactor. Think - highly contaminated water. We'd run it through a purification plant and store the water to reuse after the reactor had been rebuilt and refueled. The excess water was mixed with concreate and hauled to Nevada. That excess water was cleaner in all respects than what flowed by the shipyard in the Napa River. Dumping it in the river would have improved water quality, not degraded it. But the NIMBYs would have had a fit.
     
  33. SoonerAviator

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    I'd think we'd have plenty of ability to securely store it terrestrially until such time as we have a method of getting it into space (moon or whatever) and then sending payloads into the sun. When's that space elevator supposed to be up and running? ;)
     
  34. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    The saddest thing is we built a repository in Nevada which would have held about half of it indefinitely. Folks in Nevada turned out to be quite unhappy at the prospect, and the facility sits empty and unused. Only thing you can do it bury it deep somewhere you think people aren't going to run into it. There aren't any good solutions, just bad and less bad.

    And sadly, we need more of it. I've read that Thorium reactors get around a lot of this, but won't claim a vast quantity of technical knowledge.
     
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  35. Zeldman

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    Or New Jersey....:lol::lol:
     
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  36. Jeff Oslick

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    Geologically speaking, Yucca Mountain (Nevada) was a poor choice for long term storage. There is clear evidence that for 10,000-year+ storage that site was not stable, and groundwater leaching and surface exposure would have been relatively likely.

    In my few, it would be safest to establish one or two centralized above-ground storage facilities where high-level radioactive waste could be sealed for most practical purposes. Use ridiculously over-engineered systems, but being above-ground, it could be more readily monitored, and if someone was serious about wanting to get access to it to reprocess it in a safe manner in the future, it would be possible.
     
  37. Matthew

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    Put a big fence around it, and Marines. Anyone crossing the wire gets shot. Keep them there for a few centuries -- it's actually do-able.

    I think a problem with above ground storage is still security - it makes an inviting target for an incoming missile or warhead. Scattering radioactive material into the sky could be accomplished without a nuke warhead. Keeping things spread apart inside berms like what you see at Pantex (instead of a simple waste yard), might minimize that problem.
     
  38. chartbundle

    chartbundle Cleared for Takeoff

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    Do you really want to give the Moon Nazis nuclear material?
     
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  39. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    If we take a missile to the middle of Nevada, it isn't going to matter a lot whether it was a nuke or not, we're going to respond as if it was a nuke. You could design the facility and the containers that hold the waste to even survive a bunker-buster.

    The more immediate issue is that NIMBYs don't even want this stuff transported through their neighborhood in transport-safe casks. So instead, we keep tons of this stuff in relatively insecurity temporary storage areas with no plan for what to do with it.
     
  40. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Or store it in a local store 'n go. Let the rent get behind and have the Tv show Storage Wars bid for it and haul it off....
     
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