Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Another Look at Nuclear Power - Nuclear Waste

Nuclear WasteA while back, there was a post here at Thoughts on Global Warming about nuclear power. It concluded with this paragraph:

Nuclear power, if used carefully, could power most of the world’s energy needs. Of course, it wouldn’t be able to power all needs (i.e. cars). France can be a role model—80% of energy consumed there is nuclear. In contrast, 20% of energy consumed in the U.S. is nuclear. Nuclear energy, along with other non-fossil fuels could power the future.
Maybe it’s time to take another look at that.


Nuclear power has one big drawback: waste disposal. Producing power at a nuclear facility creates huge amounts of radioactive waste. According to Wikipedia, waste produced from nuclear power plants accounts for 95% of the total radioactivity produced in the process of nuclear electricity generation.

How can you get rid of the waste?

Some countries have tried to recycle this waste and reprocess it, with some success. The United States doesn’t reprocess for security reasons; reprocessed material can be made into nuclear weapons.

Consequently, the U.S. has had to alternative methods. A permanent underground storage facility at Yucca Mountain has been proposed to store all of nation’s spent fuel. Another idea is to bury the fuel in a subduction zone.

Some have proposed that the spent fuel be sent into space. However, the prospect for disaster is very high. Terrorist attacks, failed launches, rocket malfunctions, etc.

Possibly the best approach is known as “Remix and Return”. By mixing the waste with other radioactive objects, it returns the level of radioactivity to the original level of radioactivity of the uranium ore.

Anything else I should know?

Nuclear Power PlantIt’s interesting to note that coal-burning plants put more radioactive waste into the environment than nuclear plants. Still, nuclear plants produce more solid waste.

Conclusion

Nuclear power will be a great power source, once we figure out what to do with the waste.

More Alternative Energy Series:

Why Corn Ethanol is Bad
The Temporary Solution: Coal
Nuclear Power: Energy of the Future or As Bad As Fossil Fuels
5 Reasons Solar Power Works
The Wind Power and Solar Power Combination
Another Look at Nuclear Power - Nuclear Waste
What's So Special About Hydropower and Hydroelectricity?
Top 5 Advantages of Geothermal Power

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