Author Topic: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes  (Read 9103 times)

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #20 on: 12/21/2017 10:40 PM »
If the political will to ship it by rail or truck to a remote underground site in the Nevada desert doesn't exist, how is anyone going to get approval to ship it to the populous and hurricane-prone Space Coast?

Disagree. Transit of nuke material happens all the time everywhere. People only complain when said material stays in their area for a prolong period.

When people understand that the nuke material is in transit to somewhere else. Then there will be less public resistance.

It will be better to launch from Boca Chica for nuke waste shipments. We only have the NSF clubhouse to worry about.  :)

Offline llanitedave

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #21 on: 12/22/2017 01:10 AM »
If the political will to ship it by rail or truck to a remote underground site in the Nevada desert doesn't exist, how is anyone going to get approval to ship it to the populous and hurricane-prone Space Coast?

Disagree. Transit of nuke material happens all the time everywhere. People only complain when said material stays in their area for a prolong period.

When people understand that the nuke material is in transit to somewhere else. Then there will be less public resistance.

It will be better to launch from Boca Chica for nuke waste shipments. We only have the NSF clubhouse to worry about.  :)

That hasn't been my experience.  People only "tolerate" nuclear waste shipment through their area because they're:
1.  Unusual, and
2.  Unpublicized.

When the question of having all of the nation's nuclear waste concentrated into one transport stream passing frequently through a nearby area, opposition emerges swiftly.  It doesn't really matter whether the waste is going their for permanent storage or temporary storage.  The issue is politicized and surrounded by hysteria, with the reality of the relative danger mostly ignored.  I spent 19 years working in nuclear waste investigations, and the reaction was the same from those in Texas, Nevada, South Carolina, and Washington.

All that said, launching it into space is a terrible idea on every level, the ultimate non-starter.  It ain't gonna happen, and rightly so.
"I've just abducted an alien -- now what?"

Online Radical_Ignorant

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #22 on: 12/22/2017 01:09 PM »
If the political will to ship it by rail or truck to a remote underground site in the Nevada desert doesn't exist, how is anyone going to get approval to ship it to the populous and hurricane-prone Space Coast?

Disagree. Transit of nuke material happens all the time everywhere. People only complain when said material stays in their area for a prolong period.

When people understand that the nuke material is in transit to somewhere else. Then there will be less public resistance.

It will be better to launch from Boca Chica for nuke waste shipments. We only have the NSF clubhouse to worry about.  :)

That hasn't been my experience.  People only "tolerate" nuclear waste shipment through their area because they're:
1.  Unusual, and
2.  Unpublicized.
That is your guess that it is the reason.

[...]  It doesn't really matter whether the waste is going their for permanent storage or temporary storage. [...]
[/qoute]
It does matter a lot. Argument that it will last "million years" is at the head of every anti nuclear comment/article.

All that said, launching it into space is a terrible idea on every level, the ultimate non-starter.  It ain't gonna happen, and rightly so.
[/qoute]
Every level? What that means. What's wrong with it ultimately being in far space? Launching is only risky moment, except we are talking launcher which is as reliable as planes and ships and we have planes flying with nuclear bombs, not waste, and ships using active nuclear reactor.
This last piece smells like: I doesn't like this idea and I refuse to consider it based on my previous experience and knowledge from previous spaceflight age (there is no new age yet, but BFR will probably make it assuming it mets most of design goals).

Offline AC in NC

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #23 on: 12/22/2017 04:59 PM »
I know I'm standing against a lot of expert opinion but I believe it can.  And should.  I'm of the opinion that there are a goodly number of coincident drivers that make this make much more sense than seems on the surface.  I'm not sure that I would choose Jupiter over Venus though.  Is there some potential need to keep Venus pristine that I'm overlooking?

Sending nuclear waste makes into space makes no sense.

Lets just turn your assumptions upside down, if space launch became so cheap as to enable the 4000 BFR launches needed to send the US nuclear waste to venus why would you bother instead of say colonising the entire solar system. Which is going to have the most economic and social value?

Rough numbers
100,000 tonnes nuclear waste, also assuming no packaging.
150 tonnes to LEO for BRF
6 fights to refuel the BFS to send it to Venus.

4000 flights

Your numbers are wrong and you've got your blinders up.

Suffice to say that you can't colonize anything with "4000" BFR launches whereas you can dispose of the Earth's nuclear waste.
« Last Edit: 12/22/2017 05:47 PM by AC in NC »

Offline RoboGoofers

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #24 on: 12/22/2017 05:33 PM »
It'll never be safe enough to send radioactive garbage into space, geopolitically. a BFR full of nuclear waste would be seen by other nations as a huge ballistic dirty bomb. For Americans: would you be comfortable with North Korea disposing of their nuclear waste this way? "it's launched on an interplanetary trajectory but whoops, a second stage problem happened and it's stuck in orbit (and maybe we can deorbit it at any time wherever we want)."

Any company proposing this would never get a launch license.
« Last Edit: 12/22/2017 05:35 PM by RoboGoofers »

Offline Nomadd

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #25 on: 12/22/2017 06:08 PM »

It will be better to launch from Boca Chica for nuke waste shipments. We only have the NSF clubhouse to worry about.  :)
It would be another in a long line of strange coincidences. I've worked on the Nortel in the WIPP.

Online Radical_Ignorant

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #26 on: 12/22/2017 06:33 PM »
That is why I was asking the question about the BFR. It will be extremely reliable ....
What is the basis for this assertion?  No orbital launch vehicle, ever, has proven to have a better than roughly 1-2% failure rate.  a 2% failure rate among 4,000 BFR launches is 80 nuclear disasters, any one of which could under worst-case conditions pollute a large area of the planet with radioactive materials.

 - Ed Kyle

There never was launch system fully and rapidly reusable. That's new game. Based on old reliability standards this idea it's clearly NO GO. But if there is fleet of 3 BFSs and each of them is doing 100 flights/year in few years (after BFR starts flying) we will have reliability data like we never had before.
And since it will be launched wherever launch trajectory can be adjusted to political likes.

Offline spacenut

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #27 on: 12/22/2017 06:39 PM »
I've heard that Australia was building breeder reactors and obtaining nuclear waste to burn in them.  From what I have read it reduces waste to about 10% of what it was.  I never understood why the Navy didn't use breeder reactors on subs and burn up the spent waste fuel rods. 

That being said, if this is true, then there may not be a need to send into space. 

Offline AC in NC

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #28 on: 12/22/2017 06:48 PM »
There never was launch system fully and rapidly reusable. That's new game. Based on old reliability standards this idea it's clearly NO GO. But if there is fleet of 3 BFSs and each of them is doing 100 flights/year in few years (after BFR starts flying) we will have reliability data like we never had before.
And since it will be launched wherever launch trajectory can be adjusted to political likes.

These are exactly the kind of novel considerations that must be raised to evaluate the OP's question.  Not BFR tattooed with all the prejudices of the past and based on today as a point in time.  Besides it's a much more interesting conversation than knee-jerk dismissal.  From my perspective, the interesting conversation is to run the back-of-the-napkin numbers to see if it's in the realm of economically feasible using that to inform whether further exploration of safety and political issues is worth it.

When I did it some time back, I felt like nuclear disposal could be economic, capturing revenue during Mars down-windows, and solving a storage issue that has remained unsolved for decades.  I admit ignorance as to whether the further use of waste as fuel invalidates that economic case.
« Last Edit: 12/22/2017 09:31 PM by AC in NC »

Offline Dave G

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #29 on: 12/22/2017 08:09 PM »
I've heard that Australia was building breeder reactors and obtaining nuclear waste to burn in them.  From what I have read it reduces waste to about 10% of what it was.
Wikipedia seems to imply it's only 1%:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor#Waste_reduction
Quote from: Wikipedia
Since breeder reactors on a closed fuel cycle would use nearly all of the actinides fed into them as fuel, their fuel requirements would be reduced by a factor of about 100. The volume of waste they generate would be reduced by a factor of about 100 as well.
but the main point is the same.  Today's nuclear waste is not a problem.  It's a solution for our future electrical power needs.

I never understood why the Navy didn't use breeder reactors on subs and burn up the spent waste fuel rods. 
The nuclear waste from Navy reactors can be used to power breeder reactors on land that make electricity for our homes.  No problem.

That being said, if this is true, then there may not be a need to send into space.
Yes.

And even without the ability to convert nuclear waste into fuel for breeder reactors, as many others on this thread have said, sending nuclear waste into space is much more dangerous than storing it on earth, and much more expensive.  It's a lose-lose proposition.


Offline hektor

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #30 on: 12/22/2017 09:32 PM »
That is why I was asking the question about the BFR. It will be extremely reliable ....
What is the basis for this assertion?  No orbital launch vehicle, ever, has proven to have a better than roughly 1-2% failure rate.  a 2% failure rate among 4,000 BFR launches is 80 nuclear disasters, any one of which could under worst-case conditions pollute a large area of the planet with radioactive materials.

 - Ed Kyle 

If the launch failure rate of BFR is of this order of magnitude, then Elon's plan to relocate one million people on Mars would literally result in thousands of deaths (and the launch is only one small part of the BFR trip to Mars). My question about injecting nuclear waste on a collision course with Jupiter was based on the assumption that the BFR is more reliable by a few orders of magnitude than existing launchers.

So let me rephrase my question : if the reliability performance of the BFR is such that it makes Elon Musk's Mars plans of mass migration executable, do you think the same launcher could be used to put high activity, long duration nuclear waste on collision course with Jupiter ?
« Last Edit: 12/22/2017 09:43 PM by hektor »

Offline cppetrie

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #31 on: 12/22/2017 10:07 PM »
That is why I was asking the question about the BFR. It will be extremely reliable ....
What is the basis for this assertion?  No orbital launch vehicle, ever, has proven to have a better than roughly 1-2% failure rate.  a 2% failure rate among 4,000 BFR launches is 80 nuclear disasters, any one of which could under worst-case conditions pollute a large area of the planet with radioactive materials.

 - Ed Kyle 

If the launch failure rate of BFR is of this order of magnitude, then Elon's plan to relocate one million people on Mars would literally result in thousands of deaths (and the launch is only one small part of the BFR trip to Mars). My question about injecting nuclear waste on a collision course with Jupiter was based on the assumption that the BFR is more reliable by a few orders of magnitude than existing launchers.

So let me rephrase my question : if the reliability performance of the BFR is such that it makes Elon Musk's Mars plans of mass migration executable, do you think the same launcher could be used to put high activity, long duration nuclear waste on collision course with Jupiter ?
Could it? Sure. Should it? See other’s remarks above. But I would argue no.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #32 on: 12/22/2017 10:50 PM »
I've heard that Australia was building breeder reactors and obtaining nuclear waste to burn in them.

Heh, where'd ya hear that?

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Offline koshvv

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #33 on: 12/23/2017 04:13 AM »
Only Russia have working breeder reactor.
Building nuclear reactors in Australia is prohibited by law.

Offline Nomadd

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #34 on: 12/23/2017 04:45 AM »
Only Russia have working breeder reactor.
Building nuclear reactors in Australia is prohibited by law.
India and Japan both have working breeders and China has a small working prototype.

Online Radical_Ignorant

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #35 on: 12/23/2017 11:14 AM »
Quote
Over the past four decades, the entire industry has produced about 62,500 metric tons of used nuclear fuel.
http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/nuclear_statistics/nuclearwasteamountsandonsitestorage/

So one launch + refuelling could do it. In optimist scenario one launch is few $M - so this should be in order of $10M + preparations costs. Compare that to

Quote
For FY18, DOE has requested $120 million and the NRC $30 million[8] from Congress to continue licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain Repository.
https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/politics-and-government/nevada/nuclear-agency-seeks-30m-for-yucca-mountain-licensing-review/

So every year US is spending order of magnitude more on NOT WORKING waste facility than it would cost to launch it all into deep space assuming BFR is extremely reliable. Does that make sense? Numbers clearly show yes.

Are there better options? Yes, sure. We are doing nothing with it, it just lays wherever it was produced and nothing bad happened for decades. So it's mostly fear based discussion, little place for reason. But then launch it to space is solution for NIMB which is basic reason for doing nothing with current situation. Again - assumption is that BFR is extremely reliable.

Edit/Lar; In order for the quote tag to work, you have to actually spell quote correctly. Fixed that.
« Last Edit: 12/23/2017 01:41 PM by Lar »

Offline zhangmdev

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #36 on: 12/23/2017 11:52 AM »
Spent nuclear fuel is still red hot. Need to be stored in deep water pool for many years to cool down, then be processed to glass for permanent storage.

http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2011/ph241/chen2/

The tonnage to disposal is way more than the waste itself. Must put into extraordinary strong titanium steel canister with radiation shielding, may be many times heavier than the waste it contains.

http://www.geo.arizona.edu/palynology/geos210/lec_21.html

Offline Dave G

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #37 on: 12/23/2017 01:09 PM »
If the launch failure rate of BFR is of this order of magnitude, then Elon's plan to relocate one million people on Mars would literally result in thousands of deaths (and the launch is only one small part of the BFR trip to Mars).

When pioneers settled the western United States, a much larger percentage died.  It didn't stop them.

In fact, the risk of death may be part of the attraction.  Many thrill seekers take larger risks.

Yes, for daily BFR passenger travel between major cities on Earth, BFR safety will need to be proven, so that would presumably occur after many BFR Mars missions.  But still, I assume the risk would be larger than airplane travel, and again, that may be part of the attraction.

One thing seems clear: Today's entrepreneurs are not risk averse, as evidenced by Mark Zuckerberg's famous quote:
Quote from: Mark Zuckerberg
The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.

Bottom line: BFR could be quite successful without having a very low failure rate.

« Last Edit: 12/23/2017 01:16 PM by Dave G »

Offline philw1776

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #38 on: 12/23/2017 04:07 PM »
People are not shying away from AMTRAK trains despite their record of avoidable fatal accidents.  The government has not shut down AMTRAK.

Citing this as an example that a mass transportation technology (other than the obvious cars & busses) does not need to have 0 fatalities. 

Early jet travel had many fatalities. Percentage per trip or passengers transported were low but every year several major crashes made the news.  Kudos to those whose hard work has made airline travel so much safer.
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Offline Patchouli

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #39 on: 12/23/2017 04:28 PM »
IMHO the best solution for nuclear waste is to burn it in an LFTR. This way you get rid of it and produce electricity and valuable by-products. from: http://flibe-energy.com/lftr/

"LFTR technology can also be used to consume the remaining fissile material available in spent nuclear fuel stockpiles around the world and to extract and resell many of the other valuable fission byproducts that are currently deemed hazardous waste in their current spent fuel rod form.  The U.S. nuclear industry has already allocated $25 billion for storage or reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and the world currently has over 340,000 tonnes of spent LWR fuel with enough usable fissile material to start one 100 MWe LFTR per day for 93 years. (A 100 MW LFTR requires 100 kg of fissile material (U-233, U-235, or Pu-239) as an initial fissile charge to begin the thorium-to-uranium breeding cycle)."

Probably the best solution as it turns a waste product into a useful commodity.
Sr-90 a fission by product in nuclear waste could be useful as an alternative to Pu238 for use in RTGs and REUs for applications that don't need as long of a life span.

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