Author Topic: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes  (Read 5888 times)

Offline Patchouli

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #40 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.

Offline Rhyshaelkan

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #41 on: 12/24/2017 02:52 AM »
Yes, burning nuclear waste in a fluid fueled reactor is the better method of disposal. Many of the daughter products are useful. Also the daughter products usually have a shorter half-life. Becoming stable in tens of years, rather than hundreds or thousands.

Fluid fuel allows for greater burnup. A couple of the most common daughter products are xenon and krypton. In solid fuel the sudden production of a gas will fracture the fuel. Solid fuel has to be pulled out of the reactor after only burning up a couple % of the fuel. Fluid fuel get around this by constant chemical processing. The xenon, which also poisons your neutron economy, bubbles right out of solution.

You do wind up with a some long lived and unusable elements. But you could turn 100000 tons of "waste" into lots of energy, marketable daughter products, and perhaps 10000 tons of unusable waste. All depends on how much chemical processing is done at the end. As with any recycling, there is a level of diminishing returns.

If only the public were educated in the realities of radiation. Up till about 7 years ago I thought all radiation was bad, the no threshold theory. Then I finally learned the nature of radiation.
« Last Edit: 12/24/2017 03:22 AM by Rhyshaelkan »
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Offline edkyle99

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #42 on: 12/24/2017 03:44 AM »
People are not shying away from AMTRAK trains despite their record of avoidable fatal accidents.  The government has not shut down AMTRAK.
That's because the average number of Amtrak passengers killed each year is less than 10.  More people die in U.S. highway accidents in just three hours than die riding Amtrak trains in an entire year - but train crashes get far more press.  Kind of odd, considering that the highways kill 37,000+ and injure 2.2 million+ in the U.S. each year - true carnage any way it is considered, but no one wants to face that truth. 

BFR will have to be far more reliable than modern launch vehicles to succeed, but I've seen no evidence that it offers more reliability.  It is still a multi-stage rocket subject to the same failure modes as other rockets.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 12/24/2017 03:45 AM by edkyle99 »

Online hkultala

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #43 on: 12/24/2017 05:38 AM »
[offtopic]


BFR will have to be far more reliable than modern launch vehicles to succeed, but I've seen no evidence that it offers more reliability.  It is still a multi-stage rocket subject to the same failure modes as other rockets.


Upper stage engine failure is LOM on other launchers, but just longer burn and greater gravity losses on BFR.

FFSC engine eliminates possibility of catastrophic engine failure because of leaking seal.

Full reusability allows much higher number of test flights with analysis of components after each flight. The weak components can be identified and improved.

[/offtopic]

But the idea to send nuclear waste to space just makes no sense at all.

Storing it to deep caves in non-volcanic, non-earthquake regions is MUCH safer than launching it with even rockets that are much more reliable than current rockets. And much cheaper.

Offline zhangmdev

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #44 on: 12/24/2017 12:28 PM »
Mass and volume. There are estimated 250,000 metric tonnes of heavy metal in form of spent fuel in storage. Maybe ten thousand tonnes are added every year. I don't see mankind will be capable of launching that amount of mass into deep space any time soon. When that capability is somehow acquired, better launch something that is not waste. Meanwhile, the volume of waste is very small.

"For example, in the UK the world's oldest nuclear industry the total amount of radioactive waste produced to date, and forecast to 2125, is about 4.9 million tonnes. After all waste has been packaged, it is estimated that the final volume would occupy a space similar to that of a large, modern soccer stadium. "

http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear-wastes/radioactive-waste-management.aspx

The world is unlikely to run out of space to store that stuff, for a very long time.

Offline Dave G

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #45 on: 12/24/2017 01:49 PM »
the total amount of radioactive waste produced to date, and forecast to 2125, is about 4.9 million tonnes. After all waste has been packaged, it is estimated that the final volume would occupy a space similar to that of a large, modern soccer stadium.

It's similar in the states.  The total U.S. nuclear waste from all commercial reactors would fill an American football field to a depth of 3 meters.

What's more, the really hot stuff that stays radioactive for a thousand years, that would fill just the 1-yard line. 

The world is unlikely to run out of space to store that stuff, for a very long time.
I agree.  The problem of nuclear waste has been overstated. It's not really a problem at all.

And again, modern reactors can use that waste as fuel. So it's actually part of the solution.


Offline Hog

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #46 on: 12/24/2017 02:09 PM »
the total amount of radioactive waste produced to date, and forecast to 2125, is about 4.9 million tonnes. After all waste has been packaged, it is estimated that the final volume would occupy a space similar to that of a large, modern soccer stadium.

It's similar in the states.  The total U.S. nuclear waste from all commercial reactors would fill an American football field to a depth of 3 meters.

What's more, the really hot stuff that stays radioactive for a thousand years, that would fill just the 1-yard line. 



Ive been looking for a graphic for that stat and I cant find it.  The show about nuclear power and how we'd better get off our asses and start investing in it again was an excellent one. IIRC the video was about how people who campaigned against nuclear power, are now realizing what a good low CO2 producing technology it is.

So here is a different one about the energy density of nuclear power.  Don't send it away by rocket, its far too valuable.
Paul

Offline Radical_Ignorant

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #47 on: 12/24/2017 02:39 PM »
Saying that modern reactors can burn waste from old reactors is false. That's like saying BFR is flying with failure rate of 0.0000000001%. There are no modern reactors. There are concepts of new reactors. All reactors in western word are really old tech. Even when including EPR - which is not yet finished anywhere. It's really old tech wrapped around in super expensive modern safety systems which makes it not economical. MSR is power point at current moment. And in US AFAIK there is no chance for any meaningful progress due to paralysing weight of bureaucracy surrounding everything nuclear. 

So can we assume that power points (even if serious people are seriously working on them) are not on topic?

- From financial perspective it makes sense to use BFR to get rid of hottest stuff.
- From NIMB perspective it makes sense to use BFR to get rid of hottest stuff.
- From safety perspective (most important perspective) however we don't have data. And here question is: how reliable BFR would need to be to launch some waste in it? In can be packed it safely, so radiation is not spread even in case of mission failure. It's just tradeoff: how much you send stuff, and how much weight is package.

Of course there is other answer: radioactive waste is not problem at all as long as we don't put it in really wrong place. It's 99.9% just fear made of ignorance and whole this discussion makes no sense, as it's a trolley problem.

Offline aero

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #48 on: 12/24/2017 03:53 PM »
Well, IF ... If you're launching the waste into space anyway then send it to Mars where in due time the modern reactor to burn it can be built. That is if the Martian population needs power more than they fear the risk.

Some Martain could make some Earth $ via the agreement to accept the waste and some Earthling could cash in on the transportation.

Once this idea is worked out then the Lunar colony would seize the idea and compete for the Earth $.

An afterthought. Assuming the transportation is done with robotic ships, would there be any significant transportation savings by shipping a few full-up shielded systems to Mars, then launching full-up shielded loads of waste to LEO, robotically removing some of the shielding, send the packaged waste to Mars orbit where it is inserted into a full-up shielded system for de-orbit and landing? The only savings would be the lower mass accelerated from LEO to TMI and decelerated from the Mars trajectory velocity to LMO. The deceleration may or may not be able to use atmospheric deceleration at Mars.
« Last Edit: 12/24/2017 04:59 PM by aero »
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Offline Dave G

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #49 on: 12/24/2017 04:43 PM »
The total U.S. nuclear waste from all commercial reactors would fill an American football field to a depth of 3 meters.

What's more, the really hot stuff that stays radioactive for a thousand years, that would fill just the 1-yard line. 

Ive been looking for a graphic for that stat and I cant find it.

Starting at 5:44 into the video:
« Last Edit: 12/24/2017 04:43 PM by Dave G »

Offline Dave G

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #50 on: 12/24/2017 05:00 PM »
Saying that modern reactors can burn waste from old reactors is false...  There are concepts of new reactors.

Only Russia have working breeder reactor.

India and Japan both have working breeders and China has a small working prototype.

Seems like conflicting statements.  Can anyone provide links as backup?

In any case, if we don't have reactors that can burn nuclear waste as fuel right now, we probably will in the near future.  It's clear that people are working on this.  Today's nuclear waste is tomorrow's nuclear fuel.

And if that doesn't work, then storing nuclear waste on earth is not a big issue.  There's not that much of it.

Sending nuclear waste into space is much more expensive, and much more dangerous than storing it on Earth.


« Last Edit: 12/24/2017 05:08 PM by Dave G »

Offline Hog

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #51 on: 12/24/2017 05:07 PM »
Thanks or the link Dave, and Wiki has multiple entries about Breeder Reactors in use.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor#Future_plants
Paul

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #52 on: 12/24/2017 06:30 PM »
Fusion- Fission- Hybrids could burn the nuclear waste and produce lots of energy in the process. Helion Energy has had a very workable concept for that for years. The problem is less of a technical one, than a cultural one. The "fission people" don't want all that "complicated fusion stuff" with their "simple fission reactors". The "fusion people" don't want all that "dirty fission stuff" with their "clean fusion reactors". Either way, IMHO "nuclear waste", which I would rather call "slightly spent fuel" could be a valuable resource and should be kept for times when we need it.

Offline lamontagne

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #53 on: 12/25/2017 03:14 AM »
the total amount of radioactive waste produced to date, and forecast to 2125, is about 4.9 million tonnes. After all waste has been packaged, it is estimated that the final volume would occupy a space similar to that of a large, modern soccer stadium.

It's similar in the states.  The total U.S. nuclear waste from all commercial reactors would fill an American football field to a depth of 3 meters.

What's more, the really hot stuff that stays radioactive for a thousand years, that would fill just the 1-yard line. 



Ive been looking for a graphic for that stat and I cant find it.  The show about nuclear power and how we'd better get off our asses and start investing in it again was an excellent one. IIRC the video was about how people who campaigned against nuclear power, are now realizing what a good low CO2 producing technology it is.

So here is a different one about the energy density of nuclear power.  Don't send it away by rocket, its far too valuable.
What's so great about high energy density?  The question is really about the cost of overall infrastructure vs the demand and storage capacities.  The whole Earth ecosystem depends on the reliability of the sun, and stores energy in discrete local systems (mostly sugars and such) why don't we do the same, or equivalents?
Not to say that nuclear reactors are not interesting, backup is nice and there are some concentrated industries where is seems very applicable.  But I'm not certain we really want to have 20 000 of them around, which is more or less the amount of 1 GW power stations required to replace fossil fuels by the year 2100.

I think the idea of sending nuclear waste into space is extremely silly.  In particular if you want to use a lot of nuclear reactors.

I've included a spreadsheet of power demand till 2100.  Comments welcome!

« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 03:17 AM by lamontagne »

Offline llanitedave

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #54 on: 12/25/2017 05:10 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).

And what makes your guess more informed than mine?  I've talked to individuals, journalists, politicians, educators, lobbyists, scientists, and engineers specifically about these issues, and I think my "guess" is pretty much focused on the underlying as well as the conscious reasons for peoples opinions.

The amount of nuclear waste in storage is huge and growing.  Yucca Mountain was designed to handle 77,000 tons of the stuff, and that wasn't going to be nearly enough.  That doesn't begin to count the weight of shielding, transport casks, and accessory equipment required to remotely handle the spent fuel, which is highly radioactive and toxic.

BFR or not BFR is irrelevant.  Launch remains riskier than aircraft flight, and is far more weight constrained.  Ships can carry nuclear reactors around, but ships can carry a lot of weight in shielding and safety equiment.  Aircraft have been carrying weapons, certainly, but the nuclear material in weapons is simply not as radioactive as is high level spent fuel, the quantities are smaller, and we've had, as it is, some very close calls that would have been better had we not done it.

One of your mistakes is that you're thinking "nuclear material" is a single type of substance, and if one nuclear material can be tolerated, the others are no different.  That's not true.  Raw nuclear fuel is only mildly radioactive, spent fuel is extremely radioactive.  The consequences of a transport accident are manageable in both cases, although public hysteria over spent fuel is far greater.  Nevertheless, the risk of accident is there, and the recovery of spent fuel from a launch accident would be a nasty job that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

There remain two feasible methods for dealing with high-level nuclear waste:
1.  Reprocessing, which turns it back into fuel (although it does leave some reduced volume of any stuff that would still have to be dealt with)
2.  Deep Geologic disposal, which requires the locating and preparation of a site that can be guaranteed stable to isolate the waste for a million years or so.

Both of those solutions require that high level spent fuel be transported en masse from the power plants to the final facility.  Both of them are likely to generate a huge amount of NIMBY opposition. It was that political opposition, not any technical or geologic flaws, that shut down the plans for the Yucca Mountain repository.  Adding in another proposed approach, with the same transport and even greater safety issues, is not going to relieve the political pressure.  And technically, it is far riskier and more complex, and more expensive, than geologic dispoosal.

Merry Christmas!
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 05:20 PM by llanitedave »
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Offline Hog

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #55 on: 12/25/2017 05:31 PM »
the total amount of radioactive waste produced to date, and forecast to 2125, is about 4.9 million tonnes. After all waste has been packaged, it is estimated that the final volume would occupy a space similar to that of a large, modern soccer stadium.

It's similar in the states.  The total U.S. nuclear waste from all commercial reactors would fill an American football field to a depth of 3 meters.

What's more, the really hot stuff that stays radioactive for a thousand years, that would fill just the 1-yard line. 



Ive been looking for a graphic for that stat and I cant find it.  The show about nuclear power and how we'd better get off our asses and start investing in it again was an excellent one. IIRC the video was about how people who campaigned against nuclear power, are now realizing what a good low CO2 producing technology it is.

So here is a different one about the energy density of nuclear power.  Don't send it away by rocket, its far too valuable.
What's so great about high energy density?  The question is really about the cost of overall infrastructure vs the demand and storage capacities.  The whole Earth ecosystem depends on the reliability of the sun, and stores energy in discrete local systems (mostly sugars and such) why don't we do the same, or equivalents?
The high energy density of nuclear fuel compared to something like coal should be self explanatory.

Uranium IS a local system that was produced by a star.

The complete solution will be a multi faceted one, not just nuclear, not just the Sun.  Clouds happen.  The biggest issue IMO is the lack of informed knowledge amongst the population.  I'd be more than happy to have a nuke powerplant in my backyard.
Paul

Offline lamontagne

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #56 on: 12/25/2017 06:05 PM »
the total amount of radioactive waste produced to date, and forecast to 2125, is about 4.9 million tonnes. After all waste has been packaged, it is estimated that the final volume would occupy a space similar to that of a large, modern soccer stadium.

It's similar in the states.  The total U.S. nuclear waste from all commercial reactors would fill an American football field to a depth of 3 meters.

What's more, the really hot stuff that stays radioactive for a thousand years, that would fill just the 1-yard line. 



Ive been looking for a graphic for that stat and I cant find it.  The show about nuclear power and how we'd better get off our asses and start investing in it again was an excellent one. IIRC the video was about how people who campaigned against nuclear power, are now realizing what a good low CO2 producing technology it is.

So here is a different one about the energy density of nuclear power.  Don't send it away by rocket, its far too valuable.
What's so great about high energy density?  The question is really about the cost of overall infrastructure vs the demand and storage capacities.  The whole Earth ecosystem depends on the reliability of the sun, and stores energy in discrete local systems (mostly sugars and such) why don't we do the same, or equivalents?
The high energy density of nuclear fuel compared to something like coal should be self explanatory.

Uranium IS a local system that was produced by a star.

The complete solution will be a multi faceted one, not just nuclear, not just the Sun.  Clouds happen.  The biggest issue IMO is the lack of informed knowledge amongst the population.  I'd be more than happy to have a nuke powerplant in my backyard.
But nuclear to coal isn't that obvious, not really.  As thermal system, they are very close.  Coal is really just abundant cheap dirt that can be gathered up with large cheap shovels.  Its only real flaw is pollution and a fair amount of handling.  A nuclear reactor is only a tight and hot furnace. The only gain is a slightly smaller core, if that. All the rest is the same, coolant, turbines, alternators, buildings, etc.  And the cost of the containment building is quite high.  Its lots of concrete.  The pollution cost of nuclear is non negligible, at the mine site ( where a lot of rock is crushed to get to the mineral, uranium is ppm level ore) at the plant, and in particular at decommissioning time.  And proliferation risks, if there were tens of thousands of nuclear reactors built, are  huge.
Nuclear materials are nature's high level battery; seems a waste, in the long run, to spend it to get power that can be obtained by other means.  From the big fusion reactor in the sky, in particular.
I'm quite fond of small self contained reactors.  But they have been pushed out of the picture by cheap gas.  Gas is so cheap that the whole thorium movement has run into a wall.  And I'm kind of expecting cheap solar to put the nail into the coffin of that technology.  As long as the required batteries are there, of course.

Hydro-Quebec, who should know, has put the date at which solar will start winning against our own cheap hydro at 2025, perhaps earlier. 

I think nuclear waste is a resource and should be treated as such.  Haven't we gone beyond burying stuff and hiding it (or shooting it into space)?  Hiding costs by refusing to treat nuclear waste should not be acceptable


Offline macpacheco

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #57 on: 12/25/2017 08:20 PM »
Do you think BFR could make space disposal of long-lived highly radioactive material economically viable. I am thinking of putting them on a trajectory with direct impact with Jupiter for instance (a place where conceivably we will never go).

I found a source which says

Quote
The question was investigated in the USA by NASA in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Because of the high cost of this option and the safety aspects associated with the risk of launch failure, it was abandoned.

Could BFR solve both issues, cost and safety ?
Nuclear waste is only genuinely mildly unsafe until it cools down enough to be put into casks stored outside.
Until that point it shouldn't even be moved outside the spent fuel cooling ponds.
Once in casts, there is NO reason to call it a safety hazard.
The premise of your question is based on fake anti nuclear news.
Plus 97% of spent fuel is still actinides that can be fully fissioned on a fast reactor.
The fundamental problem with nuclear power is misinformation.
People can't accept the fact that nuclear power is OBJECTIVELY just as safe as solar or wind power (in number of actual deaths per TWh generated).
All the arguments "oh but nuclear power is dangerous" is based on conjectures that don't have much scientific basis.
1/6th of the world's electricity generation comes from nuclear. Around 400 reactors operating in the world.
Why don't you ask why we can't launch coal ash to the moon or something like that. Coal ash is a real problem that kills people every year (although what coal launches into the air is much worse).

Edit: Response to mods. I don't intend to post again on this thread. Sorry for going off topic, but the reason for creating this thread at first place is misinformation, hence I believe it must be combated.
« Last Edit: 12/25/2017 09:48 PM by macpacheco »
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Offline Lar

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #58 on: 12/25/2017 09:21 PM »
This thread seems to be wandering a bit. General waste disposal, how many reactors are needed to replace coal, why fusion people don't like mixed reactors, etc etc... all off topic.

Please try to bring it around. Thanks!
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Offline nacnud

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Re: BFR - disposal of nuclear wastes
« Reply #59 on: 12/25/2017 10:02 PM »
Thanks Lar, I'd like to make one point about nuclear which is off topic, well maybe, as the whole idea of sending nuclear waste into space is so daft....

The only reason to have civil nuclear power in the current era is to have a domestic source of engineers capable of designing nuclear power plants. The only reason for nuclear power is for boomers, nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines. The tipping point where renewables are cheaper than nuclear is long past, even if the shouting about it has not started in earnest yet.

Renewables + power storage is now cheap enough to start supplanting not just nuclear power but all other forms of electricity.

Current nuclear waste contains all the material needed to continue building military nuclear power plants for hundreds of years. No state wishing to have an independent nuclear deterrent would want to send it into space.

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