Science Questions

Can fuel from nuclear power plants be recycled?

Sun, 19th Oct 2008

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Kenneth, Chicago asked:

Can fuel from nuclear power plants be recycled indefinitely so thereís no waste? How would that apply to fusion? You were mentioning that fusion generates its own fuel anyway in a sense.


Steve - With the current designs we have fusion power stations. These are conceptual. We havenít built one yet. With the current designs we burn deuterium which we extract from sea water and we burn lithium which you get from salts. Thereís millions of years-worth of this fuel. The by-product is helium which you can put in kidís balloons if you really like. They donít have any long-lived wastes from this. Itís really an ideal way to make energy.


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Ellingson, Kenneth L asked the Naked Scientists: Can nuclear fuel (from power plants) be recycled indefinitely so there is no waste? Knute Ellingson, Chicago What do you think? Ellingson, Kenneth L , Sun, 19th Oct 2008

Obviously not. because you cannot extract energy without creating changes. However the fissionable isotope of Uranium is only a small proprtion of natural Uranium and turning the non fissionable common isotope U238 into a fissionable isotope will increase the amount of enrgy avaiable by a large factor. Soul Surfer, Sun, 19th Oct 2008

Sorry, What I meant is can nuclear fuel be recycled (refined and reused) until it is no longer toxic waste or harmful? Knute, Tue, 21st Oct 2008

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