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Disposal of Nuclear Waste

by GuestPoster - October 10th, 2011.
Filed under: Guest Posts.

In 1945, two nuclear bombs where detonated on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, showing the world the full potential of the energy that could be exploited from nuclear fission. We know now, that nuclear energy can have devastating effects on life and the environment, but the same technological foundations is also used in nuclear reactors, supplying the world with cheap electricity. How do we dispose of the waste from these reactors?

Everything from putting the waste on rockets and launching it into space to sink it on the deepest depths of the earth was proposed. Storing radioactive waste seems to be best underground in specific geological formations many hundred feet under the surface.

An important aspect about radioactivity is that it has to be saved long-term. The radioactive waste that has the highest values when it comes to their half-life, meaning these are the ones that break down fastest and becomes non-radioactive fastest, needs storage for at least several hundred years into the future. This of course possesses a major obstacle. Read more about it on http://energyinformative.org.

The next thing I’m going to talk about is recycling nuclear waste. What do we mean by recycling? This is the process to remove contaminants from the already “used” fuel rods that power the fission processes in the reactors. These fuel rods are after a convectional nuclear reactor only 5% used up, but at this time the amount of radioactivity makes it impossible to further generate more electricity. A breeder removes these contaminants and once again makes use of the fuel rod.

If you think about how long human beings have been around at the earth (200.000 years), comparing it to how long we have to store nuclear waste on large scale, if we are to use these resources (100.000 years +), you should get anxious. I know I do. There are a lot of advantages of harnessing nuclear energy, but in my opinion the downsides are substantial enough to focus on renewable energy sources instead.

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