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What to do about nuclear wastes?


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#18 ronthepon

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 12:26 AM

You'll be hoping that those radio-isotopes form, which have short half lives. That assumption, unfortunately will not be very useful.

After the blast what you'll get is a new cocktail of radio-isotopes, and new series of nuclear decays. There's no telling wether long lived radio-isotopes will form or not in the new decay series.

What you're doing is not squeezing the sponge, but just chucking it back into a bucket or water.
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#19 Larv

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 08:16 PM

[quote name='HydrogenBond']
I would like to look at stabilizing nuclear waste with a nuke bomb... [/QUOTE]
HydrogenBond,

I am not so ready to nuke our reserves of high-level nuclear waste. Why should we waste the waste? What if it has value? I think the idea of fast-neutron reactors may be a contained way of nuking the waste for further benefits. In the referenced article William H. Hannum, Gerald E. Marsh and George S. Stanford state:
[quote name=']Fast-neutron reactors could extract much more energy from recycled nuclear fuel' date=' minimize the risks of weapons proliferation and markedly reduce the time nuclear waste must be isolated.[/quote']
—Larv

#20 Fatstep

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 04:40 PM

Our Physics teacher told us that there were "super bacteria" that were being researched, suppsoedly these bacteria can eat the nuclear waste and have a non-radioactive waste left.

#21 Larv

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 06:52 PM

Our Physics teacher told us that there were "super bacteria" that were being researched, suppsoedly these bacteria can eat the nuclear waste and have a non-radioactive waste left.


Fatstep, I suspect your teacher may have been referring to hazardous waste rather than nuclear waste. Yes, there are already "super-bacteria" developed for eating a lot of different chemical wastes of the hazardous variety. But, not so for the radioactive components of nuclear wastes. (Nuclear waste usually includes some hazardous wastes.) Bacterial action is only chemical, not radiological. I would not know how such bugs could ever accelerate radioactive decay, or even participate in it. For example, no breed of bacteria could ever transmutate heavy elements like plutonium and americium down to their stable elements.

—Larv

#22 Fatstep

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Posted 11 February 2007 - 07:19 PM

I'm 100% sure he was speaking of radioactive waste as we were in a conversation about our local Nuclear Power Station (McGuire Nuclear Station). I cannot argue for him, and I am not at all in understanding of how this would be true unless by bacteria he means nano-devices, and even then I cannot understand how it would work.

Here are the only two sources that are related to these 'bacterium'.

primidi.com/2006/08/12.html

sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061019192814.htm

#23 ronthepon

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 02:10 AM

Bacteria aren't nuclear reactors. They don't have nuclear transformation induction capability.

At best, they can transform the radioactive nuclei containing molecules into more managable forms.

#24 Fatstep

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 02:11 PM

That may be your understanding, but according to the ones doing the research, it is turning out that they do turn radioactive waste into non-radioactive waste.

#25 InfiniteNow

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 02:24 PM

That may be your understanding, but according to the ones doing the research, it is turning out that they do turn radioactive waste into non-radioactive waste.


Hi Fatstep,

Perhaps a source or reference would help. Just saying, "the ones doing the research" doesn't hold too much merit here. Not that I doubt what you say, but it would be nice to know where you found the data so we can check it out for ourselves. Cheers. :)

#26 Larv

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 02:32 PM

That may be your understanding, but according to the ones doing the research, it is turning out that they do turn radioactive waste into non-radioactive waste.

Fatstep, here's what your first link (primidi.com/2006/08/12.html) says about the subject (I've bolded the most relevant parts):

Cleaning uranium waste with bacteria:

Nuclear bombs can kill people even if they're not used. In the U.S. alone, the Department of Energy estimates that more than 2,500 billion liters of groundwater are contaminated with uranium as a consequence of nuclear weapons production. In "Uranium 'pearls' before slime," scientists from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) say they discovered that some common bacteria could "convert deadly heavy metal into less threatening nano-spheres." In fact, these bacteria can convert soluble radioactive uranium into a non-toxic solid form called uraninite. Still, more research needs to be done before using these bacteria on a large scale, but it's a step in the good direction. Read more...

Here is the introduction of the PNNL news release.

Since the discovery a little more than a decade ago of bacteria that chemically modify and neutralize toxic metals without apparent harm to themselves, scientists have wondered how on earth these microbes do it.
For Shewanella oneidensis, a microbe that modifies uranium chemistry, the pieces are coming together, and they resemble pearls that measure precisely 5 nanometers across enmeshed in a carpet of slime secreted by the bacteria.

It is clear that they are talking about chemical neutralization, not radiological. Think about it; microbes are not able to transmutate radioactive elements into their stable isotopes. That is job done with nuclear forces that quite alien to life.

—Larv

#27 gribbon

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 04:23 PM

Can I just say that it isn't true that the waste from nuclear power plants is dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. That is only the case if you don't remove the actinides from it. If you do remove the actinides from the waste and reprocess, the remainder is dangerous for a few hundred years. Many chemical plants produce waste toxic for centuries. :)

Nuclear power - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Not only this, but if you use a subcritical reactors, you can reduce the time the waste takes to decay even more.

The conversion-to-resource idea seems really cool though. If there is a way by which we can actually 'use' the 'harmful radiations', it would be brilliant.


The trouble is that nuclear batteries need Alpha emitters, and most nuclear waste isn't so....You can use the waste for other things though, like scientific instruments....:confused: :)

#28 Fatstep

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 06:12 PM

I just browsed google after school that day, as I was taken aback at the idea of radioactive eating bacteria, dismiss my statement because I do not have a source, but I will ask my teacher and see if he can expound what he has heard and any sources he has, sorry again.

#29 Larv

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 11:18 AM

Can I just say that it isn't true that the waste from nuclear power plants is dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. That is only the case if you don't remove the actinides from it. If you do remove the actinides from the waste and reprocess, the remainder is dangerous for a few hundred years. Many chemical plants produce waste toxic for centuries.

Good point. The actinides can be at least partly reprocessed for further use. This is one of the arguments for using monitored retrievable storage to manage HLW instead of deep geological burial.

—Larv

#30 silverslith

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 02:57 AM

Can I just say that it isn't true that the waste from nuclear power plants is dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. That is only the case if you don't remove the actinides from it. If you do remove the actinides from the waste and reprocess, the remainder is dangerous for a few hundred years.


I'm not at all sure this is the case. Do you have tables of all the fission fractions of the actinides and their decay series, half lives?