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Author Topic: Is there a catalyst for shortening half life of radioactive waste?  (Read 4544 times)

Offline Nizzle

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As I understand, most research into the field of nuclear waste is done in "storage thereof".
Shouldn't we be looking at discovering catalysts that could rapidly degrade Uranium/Plutonium all the way to Lead?
Would such a catalyst exist and how would it look like or what would it require to be able to do in order to shorten the half life of nuclear waste?


 

Offline peppercorn

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Such an accelerator might I suppose potentially exist, however I'm not certain that one could use the word 'catalyst' in such circumstances.  Catalysts are only really applicable to chemical reactions, as opposed to sub-atomic changes.

Lasers are being utilised in fusion experiments, I believe. But I don't pretend to understand how they affect the chances of fusion or if a similar mechanism might exist with regard to radioactive decay.
 

Offline syhprum

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There is some evidence that the Neutrino flux has an effect on half lives but the effect is small and controversal
 

Offline CliffordK

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Uranium and Plutonium are fissionable fuels, and can be re-used in the nuclear power plants, with the primary products being lighter than lead chunks of atoms, as well as neutrons.



The biggest problem are the neutron poisons.

Some of the poisons can be used in shielding and control rods.  The big thing is that the nuclear industry needs to have more effort in separating out the reburnable materials, rather than just dumping them and mining new uranium.  It is a finite resource, after all.  I.E.  Put them back in the nuclear reactor to generate energy which is the goal in the first place  ;)

I did read about experiments with lasers to force nuclear decays, but it sounded complex and expensive.
 

Offline Nizzle

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The big thing is that the nuclear industry needs to have more effort in separating out the reburnable materials, rather than just dumping them and mining new uranium.  It is a finite resource, after all.  I.E.  Put them back in the nuclear reactor to generate energy which is the goal in the first place  ;)

My thought exactly. Nuclear waste is still radioactive so that activity should be put to good use. Could we use nuclear waste in some sort of batteries?
 

Offline CliffordK

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My thought exactly. Nuclear waste is still radioactive so that activity should be put to good use. Could we use nuclear waste in some sort of batteries?
Not in my flashlight!!!   [xx(]

Apparently Uranium and Plutonium are relatively safe to handle.  Spent fuel just out of the reactor still puts out a lot of heat for a couple of years, just not enough to generate the power used in nuclear reactors.

There was an earlier discussion about using the residual heat of spent fuel in smaller energy installations and heat-plants. 

http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=42946.msg379727#msg379727

There was some discussion about China proposing to build such a plant, but very little information on whether it was actually completed. 

Of course, with radioactive waste, there are both the short term storage issues (< 10 yrs), and the very long term storage issues (thousands of years) in which the waste is still dangerous to humanity and the environment, but puts out much less energy.  See the logarithmic chart on decay heat, linked above.
 

Offline syhprum

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"Apparently Uranium and Plutonium are relatively safe to handle"
Plutonium comes in at least 20 different isotopes some are so radioactive that they are red hot, these should not be handled!.
« Last Edit: 03/04/2012 21:02:46 by syhprum »
 

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