588 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. @Tim Macknay

    I am awfully sorry, Tim, I meant to write David MacKay’s book (Sustainable Energie without the Hot Air). Thank you very much for picking this error.

  2. Thanks for the clarification, Ernestine – given the similarity in surnames, I can see how it happened.

  3. Nuclear waste: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_level_waste

    Anybody concerned with long term storage of nuclear waste should welcome, indeed advocate, the development of fast reactors with pyroprocessing technologies which produce a couple of orders of magnitude less waste composed of mostly of fission products with short half lives rendering them safe in a few hundred years.

    Much cheaper than space elevators and with the rather useful attribute of producing vast amounts of energy for the foreseeable future. Fast reactors destroy the longer lived actinides – forever.

  4. quokka recommends that the solution to this:

    “Liquid high level waste is typically held temporarily in underground tanks pending vitrification. Most of the high level waste created by the Manhattan project and the weapons programs of the cold war exists in this form because funding for further processing was typically not part of the original weapons programs. Both spent nuclear fuel and vitrified waste are considered [1] as suitable forms for long term disposal, after a period of temporary storage in the case of spent nuclear fuel.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_level_waste

    is to create more of the same, subject to some transformation: “Anybody concerned with long term storage of nuclear waste should welcome, indeed advocate, the development of fast reactors with pyroprocessing technologies which produce a couple of orders of magnitude less waste composed of mostly of fission products with short half lives rendering them safe in a few hundred years.”

    Its called the management of solving a problem by means of greating more problems in the hope that the original problem (funding for waste disposal was not budgeted for) will be forgotten. Sometimes this form of management is marketed under the phrase ‘moving forward’.

  5. @Ernestine Gross

    You’re conflating waste disposal from the weapons program with waste disposal from the civilian nuclear power program. I don’t know what the US is currently planning to do with it’s military radwaste (the WIPP facility, I think), but civilian nuclear power operators in the US have been required to place a small surcharge on the price of the electricity they sell and provide it to a government fund for the disposal of their nuclear waste. This fund has accumulated quite some cash over the decades, although I seem to recall it being reported that the US government has in fact been spending it on whatever it had a mind to at the time. In short, the utilities have already paid for the cost of disposal, but the US government has failed to live up to its obligations in this respect.

    Nonetheless, the disposal has indeed already been budgeted for. And in fact paid for. Just not delivered.

  6. @Ernestine Gross

    Its called the management of solving a problem by means of greating more problems in the hope that the original problem (funding for waste disposal was not budgeted for) will be forgotten. Sometimes this form of management is marketed under the phrase ‘moving forward’.

    Wrong. Fast reactors can be fueled from a start charge obtained by reprocessing spent nuclear fuel and fertile material such as existing stocks of depleted uranium. They would generate about one tonne of high level waste per year. This waste would be almost all fission products with short half lives vastly reducing the need for very long term storage or disposal requirements. It could be done without further uranium mining – there is enough stuff in storage.

    The preferred method of reprocessing – pyroprocessing- cannot separate out weapons grade plutonium from other actinides.

    France, Sth Korea, India, Japan and possibly Russia and China will eventually follow this path over the coming decades.

    The energy for an individual for a lifetime could be generated from a piece of uranium or thorium the size of a golf ball and the waste dealt with in a container the size of a coke can. There is no other form of electricity generation that can hold a candle to that in terms of low environmental impact.

  7. Finrod and quokka, I shall wait to hear when you two are being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace and for Physics. Until such time I say good-bye and wish you well.

  8. Lest anybody doubt the physical basis of my assertion above of a “lifetime of energy in the palm of your hand” they should read a straight forward summary here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/22/ifr-fad-4/ and note that it is endorsed by, amongst others, Dr. Yoon Chang, former General Manager of the Integral Fast Reactor Program at the US Argonne National Laboratory.

  9. @Ernestine Gross

    Finrod and quokka, I shall wait to hear when you two are being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace and for Physics. Until such time I say good-bye and wish you well.

    Obviously, he has no more argument.

  10. @Ernestine Gross

    Perhaps Quokka and I can jointly share the Nobel Prize for Using Our Particular Stock Of Knowledge To Search The Internet For Relevent Information On An Important Subject And Interpreting The Results Of Our Research Sensibly.

  11. I don’t know what the US is currently planning to do with it’s military radwaste (the WIPP facility, I think)

    Incidentally… WIPP is already operating, and it has been operating for some years now. It is receiving substantial amounts of radioactive waste and disposing of it.

    It’s not something that might be maybe happening at some point in the future… it’s already in business today, isolating substantial amounts of radioactive waste permanently in a deep geological repository.

    Also, I believe that the US government does (or did) intend to put some radioactive waste from weapons materials production into Yucca Mountain, but most of it goes into WIPP. The US Government was to pay for a portion of Yucca Mountain themselves, corresponding to the portion of space they would use for weapons waste, but the majority of it would be paid for by the nuclear power utilities via the money collected in the nuclear waste fund, corresponding to the portion of the space that would be used for civilian nuclear power waste.

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