Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The "Waste" in Spent Nuclear Fuel Isn't Really Waste?


As you can see from the graph, there’s not ALL that many significant (from a perspective of mass) fission products in the spent fuel. There’s xenon (#54) and neodymium (#60). Then there’s zirconium (#40) and molybdenum (#42) and ruthenium (#44). Cesium (#55), barium (#56), lanthanum (#57), cerium (#58), and praseodymium (#59) all figure in at varying levels of importance. And there’s samarium (#62) in there to make things difficult.
But it’s a smaller list than I would have thought, and the xenon, neodymium, molybdenum, and lanthanum are all recoverable at this stage. Something to think about–even the fission products of spent nuclear fuel probably aren’t really “waste” either. _More graphs at EnergyfromThorium

Commenters at the link above remarked at some of the high value metals and rare earths contained within nuclear "waste."

Of course when Generation III and Generation IV reactors begin to work in tandem, many of the troublesome ingredients of nuclear "waste" will suddenly become important feedstocks and co-products.

Nuclear reactors are safe, and getting safer. Future generations of reactors should provide much greater safety at a much lower price -- in terms of expense of construction and manpower supervision. The Thorium cycle should offer even fewer things to worry about. Like everything of value, these things must be taken seriously, or they can exact a tremendous price from the unwary.

Taken from an earlier posting at Al Fin

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