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Nuclear Energy/waste

  1. Feb 19, 2005 #1
    Are you afraid of nuclear energy?

    What is it that makes us so scared of nuclear energy? When we hear the word “nuclear”, we immediately think of death, war, and glowing genitalia’s. Just because something’s nuclear, doesn’t mean that it’s destructive or explosive. Nuclear energy is by far the best source of energy around due to its nature of the “waste” it creates. Unlike coal power plants, which pollutes the atmosphere in an uncontrolled way, nuclear waste is contained in sealed containers and stored somewhere. The issue we have is, “what do we do with the waste?”

    Uranium-232 has a half life of about 100,000 years (the amount of years for its radioactivity to drop to half its original activity). This means that it’ll take about a half a million years or so for one container of waste to be at a safe level. Well gee, in a half a million years the total amount of waste present on this planet will destroy life as we know it. Energy well spent, NOT!

    This is where I step in.

    I feel as though I know a solution to this problem. We can do one of two things (that I feel are safe methods for disposal).

    We can either:
    a.) Encapsulate the waste and send it to space. So by the time the waste hits the nearest galaxy, its radioactivity will have reached its limit and will be at a safe level. “Yay!” you say? One problem, our world is run by politics, and people are so scared of this nuclear idea that sending it in space would be considered “polluting the universe”, (which is IMPOSSIBLE!!!). So don’t look forward to that happening anytime soon.
    b.) Encapsulate the waste and send it to the sun. Now, your probably like “what the ****, that’s too close to us”. If there’s anything thing you should know about our solar system is that our sun is a giant nuclear power plant (take a look at the energy it creates, IT POWERS OUR PLANET). Nuclear explosions go off on the sun all the time. So why not send all our trash to the sun. Think of it as recycling our energy.

    So think about it…… Would you rather dispose of our waste (even garbage) to the sun to burn up harming nothing? Or burn coal to destroy our atmosphere?

    Sleep on it :surprised
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2005 #2


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    If I were you, I'd start to run away before Astronuc arrives here.

    I am going to try to guess his answer:

    How could we send the nuclear wastes to the space?


    With a lot, a lot of money and assuring that it is not showed to the media, because if not I think that Greenpeace and every people won't be very happy of having a rocket loaded with nuclear wastes flying over their heads.

    I heard the polemic take off of a recent spacecraft which transported a small space device (I don't recall it) which was propelled by means of nuclear fuel. There was an enormous claim against it.

    I think your advice is not going to success.

    In the next chapter we will focuse on how much it costs to send a cointainer of nuclear waste and conserve the rentability of nuclear energy at the same time.
  4. Feb 19, 2005 #3
    We just had a recent shuttle disaster, and you want to attempt to send toxic waste in to space? Far too dangerous, and far too costly. I've heard it costs about $10,000 per kilogram to send something in to space, and a one out of a hundred chance of disaster is unacceptable.

    Uranium is not the primary waste issue. The fission process creates many short lived (hundreds of years) isotopes (remember that a short halflife means that half of the particles decay in a shorter time, so the rate of radiation is much stronger).

    Uranium is handled, when it arrives at the plant, by people in radiation suits (pretty safe). Exposure to a large amount of plutonium or radium for a short time is lethal, on the other hand. But these highly radioactive isotopes are not the biggest problem, because even if they did get released in to the atmosphere, they are relatively benign in such dilute levels (maybe raise the chance of cancer a few percent in the contaminated area).

    The biggest problems are a few particular elements, such as strontium, which can be confused for calcium by the body. Thus, if you ingest a minute amount of a radioactive strontium isotope, it will become a part of your skeleton and pummel away at your insides (cancer for sure).

    All that said, I support nuclear energy as a short term energy solution.
  5. Feb 19, 2005 #4
    educate the people about the reality of nuclear waste....
  6. Feb 19, 2005 #5


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    Hmmm, would think that even if you had the confidence to shoot the stuff to space the amount of high - level radioactive waste you'd have to shoot up would make it a very unpleasant and especially uneconomical operation.
  7. Feb 19, 2005 #6
    Hello KSCphysics,

    I think it's dangerous trying to send the nuclear waste to space. There's still
    the risk that the rocket might crash back to earth. I don't know
    what the consequences are if the rocket crashed but I could think
    of radioactive particles flying all over around polluting the air, water, ground, etc.

    Secondly, the container thing is a big problem in my opinion.
    The ground will change and will bring the container back to the surface (ten-thousand of years?). Question is: How do we mark the container such that our descendants know what's inside the container. Shall we use text to mark the container? In ten-thousand of years, nobody will talk English anymore. What kind of symbol should we put on the container?

    The problem with our descendants who should keep their hands off
    the containers is indeed a problem and scientists are still searching for a solution.
  8. Feb 20, 2005 #7
    true.. but radioactive material is more dangerous here on earth than it is burning up in the sun.
  9. Feb 20, 2005 #8


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    There are active research in the transmutation of radioactive waste into elements that will have an even shorter half-life. Some of this involves the bombardment of such waste with high-energy protons, or bombardment with neutrons.[1,2, 3]

    So in terms of having some degree of "reality" about nuclear power, THIS is a more viable and realistic alternative then launching it into space.


    [1] http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-2/text/radside1.html [Broken]
    [2] http://www.nuc.berkeley.edu/designs/atw/ATWreport.html [Broken]
    [3] http://www.nea.fr/html/trw/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
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