Filed under: Guest Posts. Tagged as: nuclear power, nuclear waste, radioactive disposal, radioactive waste.
Everybody knows how much of a disaster the nuclear bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were. This was just a few years after the Americans figured out how much of an energy potential that came with nuclear fission. After the war, a lot of resources were put into the development of nuclear reactors to generate electricity for peaceful purposes.
A complete overview of how we harness the electricity from Nuclear reactors can be found in the nuclear category on EnergyInformative.org. This article focuses solely on waste disposal and recycling of nuclear waste.
The first ideas for how to deal with the dangerous nuclear waste started blossoming: Everything from sending it into space to burying it under water was considered. Nowadays, digging out disposal sites 400-500 meters underground seems to be the best way.
Radioactive waste is a tricky form of matter. The compounds with the longest periods of half-life are the ones that need extra attention. Some of them require as much as several hundred thousand years of isolation, because they are still in this time period radioactive, possessing a theoretical threat to both human beings and other life forms.
There is another way we can reduce the radioactivity of nuclear waste. This way resolves around making the fuel rods that are being burnt in the nuclear reactors (which still has a lot of potential nuclear energy left) once again useful. We do this by removing contaminations from the rods with nuclear breeder plants, a fairly new technology that only a handful of countries are using. This also has the potential of saving a ton of money.
Nuclear energy has its place in our world of energy generation, unfortunately with a ton of downsides. Thinking about storing nuclear waste for as much as several hundred thousand years makes me nauseous. Let’s hope for technological innovations in the future that make these downsides better to deal with.