Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Nuclear waste

  1. Oct 29, 2005 #1
    I noticed there were several ways for trying to solve that problem :

    1) secretely leave them somewhere (seas,...)
    2) try to make extra places for them
    3) retreat them (superphenix,aso...)

    Does somebody know what happen if those highly radioactive waste are put into a long-time wokring fusion power plant, with temp. > 100 mio. K ?? maybe if this is not enough energy to fusion very heavy nuclei, they will follow a kind of thermal desintegration into maybe other much more lighter elements ??
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Putting nuclear waste, and by that I mean fission products in a fusion reactor would not be practical. For one, most fusion reactions would require high energies to occur - so temperatures would have to be in the billion K range. The other problem would be considerable energy losses due to brehmsstrahlung and cyclotron radiation - assuming the fusion process would occur in a magnetically confined plasma.

    Energy losses from a plasma increase with Z, the atomic number, because this is the number electrons that would be available from an atom with atomic numbe Z.
  4. Oct 29, 2005 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Actually the science behind nuclear waste disposal has often been grossly misrepresented by the media. We know more or less how to store them safely underground for tens of thousands of years, with tiny variance in error.

    The materials science is well understood and used everyday with great succes.

    Theres some complications when you transport them, but that too is not really a problem.

    Essentially, its a perfectly working, environmentally clean system, its ashame its so often distorted given the obvious benefits of nuclear energy.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook