Thursday, May 02, 2013

Nuclear Break-In

I'm not sure if I heard this story and forgot, or if it never registered, or if I never actually heard it, but it is fascinating

We have a highly dysfunctional relationship with nuclear technology.  It is a potential savior for low to no carbon energy production, but it is wildly dangerous in numerous ways, and so is very, very expensive.  If we could really explore the potential here it could mean a dramatic change in energy production, but so long as the products can be made into the most destructive weapons around, it seems unlikely.

I personally think the radiation/storage issue would likely be solvable with better/more reactors that can make use of the current waste.  Realize that the waste is often more radioactive than the initial fuel, which means more energy could certainly be harnessed from it, but iirc the types of reactors that could make use of the spent nuclear fuel are currently illegal under international treaties.

A 1 megaton blast releases enough energy (4.2 PJ) to power 100k US households for a year.  How many of these are sitting in that bunker in Oak Ridge slowly decaying away?  How much extra energy are we using to contain/guard them?

I know lots of people are very strongly opposed to nuclear power, but the materials are there.

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