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Thread: Another looney idea ?

  1. #1

    Another looney idea ?

    Moon Seen As Nuclear Waste Repository

    This is an interesting article just appeared in Space.Com

    The atricle goes into the possibility that we may start using the moon as an alternative site for dumping nuclear waste.

    On the whole it is positive towards the idea, and it points out that we may later use the waste as a resource for reprocessing by Lunar settlers.

    Phobos

  2. #2
    So people aren't comfortable with driving it around in trucks, but we will put it in a rocket and shoot it to the moon??? Suppose there was an accident with the launch vehicle carrying tons of nuclear waste in the high atmosphere......then what? The article mentions it, but the advocate for this plan never states his thoughts on safety.

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: RalphVanDyke on 2002-08-23 00:44 ]</font>

  3. #3
    sure, next thing you know it explodes, sending the moon and moon base alpha, careening off into the galaxy... [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_eek.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_eek.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_eek.gif[/img]
    wait, that was in 1999... nevermind! [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif[/img]

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    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: moving_target on 2002-08-23 03:57 ]</font>

  4. #4
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    Look at the trouble with shooting a few kilograms Plutonium into space with Cassini and try to imagine the political trouble when you want to send up tons of nuclear waste.
    And, if we really want to put nuclear waste into space - I don't know if this is even from the technical aspects a good idea - I'd say a solar orbit slightly within Earth's orbit would need less energy (no braking necessary) and would still keep the waste within our reach. Except we can do something useful with the waste on the Moon - like using it as an advanced propulsion system to travel with the Moon to weird places meeting even more weird people there.

    Harald

  5. #5
    On 2002-08-23 00:38, RalphVanDyke wrote:
    So people aren't comfortable with driving it around in trucks, but we will put it in a rocket and shoot it to the moon??? Suppose there was an accident with the launch vehicle carrying tons of nuclear waste in the high atmosphere......then what? The article mentions it, but the advocate for this plan never states his thoughts on safety.

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: RalphVanDyke on 2002-08-23 00:44 ]</font>
    I am surprised they are talking about using a spaceplane. Surely to raise a heavy load the first 60 Km or so the best and safest method for this sort of cargo would be a heavy loading blimp?

    There would be plenty of details to sort out, but if I wanted to ship hazardous material to the moon this is how I would start. The heavy loading blimps may already exist in military service - the latest theory from the UFO community is that most black triangle sightings are just this (backed up by matching reported sightings with known USAF base locations).

    Phobos

  6. #6
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    This is not a new idea of course. Larry Niven had just this set-up in his short story The Woman in Del Rey Crater. For years Earth had been lobbing it's nuclear waste into this crater on the Moon, with the idea that it might eventually be recovered and reprocessed. At the time of the story, that's exactly what was being done. Then one of the robot salvagers comes across a body in the middle of this uninhabitable wasteland and the mystery begins...

    My idea for disposal of nuclear waste is to not mess around with the Moon and just send it into a freefall trajectory directly into the Sun. Then there'd be nothing left to worry about. The only trouble would still be the safety of launching it. But I think that could be overcome.

  7. #7
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    On 2002-08-23 05:04, David Hall wrote:
    My idea for disposal of nuclear waste is to not mess around with the Moon and just send it into a freefall trajectory directly into the Sun.
    Unfortunately, the Sun is the most difficult to reach location in our solar system, as you'd need not only to leave Earth's gravity but also you've to cancel the 30km/s orbital speed of Earth around the Sun. Only feasible method would be a swing-by at Jupiter - giving him back some of the speed that the Pioneers and Voyagers took away from him. Would make the Society for the Preservation of Jupiter's Orbit (or what was the exact name?) happy... [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    Harald

  8. #8
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    On 2002-08-23 04:58, Phobos wrote:
    I am surprised they are talking about using a spaceplane. Surely to raise a heavy load the first 60 Km or so the best and safest method for this sort of cargo would be a heavy loading blimp?
    It's not only a matter of height (getting above the atmosphere), but also a matter of speed (giving the initial push).

    Harald

  9. #9
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    Let's just dig a really deep hole (down to molten rock) and throw waste of all sorts down there. Barring that, dig a less deep hole and wait some million years for it to be subducted.

  10. #10
    I wonder how many windmills, solar arrays, geothermal pipes, etc, could be purchased and deployed for the cost of this endeavor.

  11. #11
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    On 2002-08-23 05:41, xriso wrote:
    Let's just dig a really deep hole (down to molten rock) and throw waste of all sorts down there. Barring that, dig a less deep hole and wait some million years for it to be subducted.
    It has been proposed to drop nuclear waste into deep ocean trenches and allow subduction to get rid of it over the (very) long term.

    That's the ultimate in sweeping dirt under the rug, I'd say... [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

  12. #12
    Would it be possible to send it to Venus? Afterall, nobody is ever going to walk on Venus!

  13. #13
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    On 2002-08-23 10:20, traztx wrote:
    I wonder how many windmills, solar arrays, geothermal pipes, etc, could be purchased and deployed for the cost of this endeavor.
    I would just like to say that this is perhaps the most salient post in this thread. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  14. #14
    On 2002-08-23 12:21, tychobrahe wrote:
    Would it be possible to send it to Venus? Afterall, nobody is ever going to walk on Venus!
    Depends on how much money you have to spend on it.

  15. #15
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    On 2002-08-23 10:25, Donnie B. wrote:
    It has been proposed to drop nuclear waste into deep ocean trenches and allow subduction to get rid of it over the (very) long term.
    That technique was used in a SF book by David Brin, when the planet was abandoned for a few million years to let it recover from having been inhabited by a "civilized" race.

    The problem with the idea is that sometimes the material near the survace doesn't get subducted, but instead gets scraped off and ends up being added to the continent.

    An example of this is the Olympic Mountains in Washington State of the US. Apparently, somehow the subduction zone got partially plugged or something.


  16. #16
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    Another obvious problem is that the subduction process is very slow, and the waste would have to sit on the bottom for thousands of years before being removed from the environment.

    How slow? I don't know about the deep Pacific trenches, but the North Atlantic is spreading at about the same rate as fingernails grow. That's probably a good first-order approximation for subduction, too.

  17. #17
    I wonder how many windmills, solar arrays, geothermal pipes, etc, could be purchased and deployed for the cost of this endeavor.
    I'm not convinced that geothemal pipes and windmills can solve our energy problems. On the other hand, controlled nuclear fussion probably could. What we really need is an effort similar to the Apollo program (but on an even larger scale) to solve the problem on controlled fussion.

    Imagine a world where we are dependent on neither vulnerable fission power plants nor fossile fuels from unstable parts of the world. Imagine eliminating one of the major sources of pollution and CO2 production (with it's related environmental impact).

    Considering the upside of controlled fussion, why aren't we putting a lot more resources into developing it? The payoff would be a lot bigger than that for shooting spent uranium into space or even for putting a man on the moon.

  18. #18
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    On 2002-08-23 10:20, traztx wrote:
    I wonder how many windmills, solar arrays, geothermal pipes, etc, could be purchased and deployed for the cost of this endeavor.
    Once the cost of disposal is attached to the cost of development we could make progress here. All the claims that alternative energy sources are not adequate or not cost effective are based on leaving out the cost of disposal and environmental cleanup when figuring the cost of fuels we use today. Sure nuclear energy seems cheap, as long as we the taxpayers foot the bill for cleanup.

  19. #19
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    On 2002-08-24 04:11, beskeptical wrote:

    Once the cost of disposal is attached to the cost of development we could make progress here. All the claims that alternative energy sources are not adequate or not cost effective are based on leaving out the cost of disposal and environmental cleanup when figuring the cost of fuels we use today. Sure nuclear energy seems cheap, as long as we the taxpayers foot the bill for cleanup.
    The same could be said for hydrocarbon fuels. They generally don't include environmental or cleanup costs either.

    Nuclear energy has some highly toxic wastes, but if you compare it to the waste products and environmental damage from oil-based fuel use, it really isn't any worse overall. It just has a bad image comparatively because it's a more visible problem in the public's eyes.

  20. #20
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    On 2002-08-24 11:47, David Hall wrote:
    The same could be said for hydrocarbon fuels. They generally don't include environmental or cleanup costs either.

    Nuclear energy has some highly toxic wastes, but if you compare it to the waste products and environmental damage from oil-based fuel use, it really isn't any worse overall. It just has a bad image comparatively because it's a more visible problem in the public's eyes.
    Most definitely. I would certainly include combustion fuels in the 'taxpayer subsidizes the industry by paying for environmental costs' category.

  21. #21
    Nuclear waste is recycleable through breeder reactors. There are allot of industrial wastes that are more poisonous by any objective measure - and are saftly stored at low cost right here on earth. High level nuclear waste can last a long time, but it does'nt remain highly radioactive for nearly as long. In general, the more radioactive something is, the less long the radioactivity lasts. Many chemical poisons retain their toxicity indefinitly. These are facts.

    The nuclear waste problem is a creation of people with economic and political interests exploiting the irrational fears of the public. I would have no problem living right next to a nuclear power plant or waste dump - if the land is cheap, it would be a great way to save money at the expense of the ignorant [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img].

    check out this link. PBS's frontline did a great job debunking the many common myths regarding nuclear power

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/





    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cloudy on 2002-08-26 18:58 ]</font>

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cloudy on 2002-08-26 19:00 ]</font>

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    On 2002-08-22 23:52, Phobos wrote:
    "The article goes into the possibility that we may start using the moon as an alternative site for dumping nuclear waste."
    Isn't this how that 60's Sci-Fi series Space 1999 opens? They start to pile up nuclear waste on the moon, something goes wrong, it all explodes, and off they go on a series of bizarre adventures.

    BTW - I'm all for a human inhabited moon base (This is 2002 after all!) but this waste disposal idea looks very expensive and, with regards to money, well...wasteful!

  23. #23
    I always thought it would be a good idea to pulverize the radioactive waste into a powder, mix it with concrete, and use it to fill in the mine it was taken out of originally.

    After all, shouldn't it be less radioactive after its use than before? It seems both practical and economical to me.

  24. #24
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    After all, shouldn't it be less radioactive after its use than before?
    Nope. Tons of ore are needed to produce a few pounds of uranium, and most of that is U238, which is useless for reactors.

    Also, the reactions produce some really nasty by products that are highly radioactive but fairly short lived.

  25. #25
    Mallen,

    Good idea - but you may have to use allot of concrete to dilute the radioactivity back down to the level it came out of the mine with. And you don't have to put it back in the mine - sufficiently diluted, you could put it anywhere. This is what we do with many other poisons. Many serious proposals are based on the idea of diluting the stuff. I don't really know enough to do the calculations re the economics or feasability of putting it in empty mines.

    One disadvantage - you then loose out on all the energy that is left in the waste. You can reprocess the stuff in "breeder reactors" untill all of the energy in it has been used. Better to store it until people regain their sanity and let us reprocess it.

    There are other risks involved in reprocessing - terrorism and nuclear proliferation, for example - but they are managable. And some of the risks of the alternatives are not as manageable. If I was a terrorist - the first attack I would plan would be a morter/bazooka raid on a natural gas tank farm. Or tanker. Or pumping station. I hope the authorities are guarding these at least as carefully as they are the nuke plants.

  26. #26
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    I would like to agree most avidly with Cloudy. I think it is a horrid waste of resourses that we do not reprocess the waste fuel from Nuclear power plants. Less than 1% of the energy in the fuel is consumed by time the fuel is removed. It has been coated with substances that "poison" the reaction. Removal of this oxide coating renews the fuel for future use, so you only have to store .82% of the wasste we now store. Further, that waste is much less nasty than what we're storing now.

    I know, I know! You are all sitting there saying "What if we have another "Three Mile Island" type accident? Doesn't that prove how dangerous nuclear power is?" As a professional in the business of power generation, I can truthfully say that TMI was a demonstration of how SAFEnuclear power is not how dangerous.

    I offer as proof:
    1) Everything that could go wrong at TMI went wrong.
    2) Everything that couldn't go wrong at TMI went wrong.
    3) Every time they had a 50/50 chance of guessing right on a decission, they guessed wrong.
    4) Every time they had a 100% chance of doing the right thing just by following written proceedure, they did it wrong.

    With all of this going against them, they still didn't hurt anybody, release illegal amounts of radiation or breach containment. With modern system design, nuclear power is safe.

    I hear you. "What about Chyrnobyl?" Comparing Chyrnobyl to American reactors is like comparing a pile of pig doodoo to a Boing 777 airliner. In short, no relationship.

    (steps off soapbox, puts on flame retardant coveralls) [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]


  27. #27
    On 2002-08-27 17:56, Russ wrote:
    I would like to agree most avidly with Cloudy. I think it is a horrid waste of resourses that we do not reprocess the waste fuel from Nuclear power plants. Less than 1% of the energy in the fuel is consumed by time the fuel is removed...
    Good point. I was just reading an article about waste in National Geographic (of all places). According to the article, our (America's) best reactors in production burn about 3% of the fuel and the rest is wasted. Some advances in "fast reactors" are theoretically supposed to burn almost all the plutonium fuel. There is concern about sodium in the core since it is so volatile, but evidently a meltdown is not gonna happen because this kind of reactor's rods spread out when heated, which reduces the reactions.

    The article also talked about the amount of waste out there... wow! We need a better way. I'd hate to think we have to block off a Yucca-Mountain-sized chunk of America every 50 years and leave them roped off for 200,000 years.

    But then again... how about some mutants to rack up some new biodiversity? [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  28. #28
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    And, as Cloudy mentioned above, breader reactors creat fuel as they work so, no waste, no fuss, no muss, no pots, no pans. No wait, that's an old Jiffypop Popcorn ad.

    Unfortunately, breaders are politically incorrect, so the chronicly ignorant population wins again.

  29. #29
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    On 2002-08-27 18:37, Russ wrote:
    And, as Cloudy mentioned above, breader reactors creat fuel as they work so, no waste, no fuss, no muss, no pots, no pans. No wait, that's an old Jiffypop Popcorn ad.

    Unfortunately, breaders are politically incorrect, so the chronicly ignorant population wins again.
    My nuke knowledge is rusty so correct me if I'm wrong, but

    Doesn't liquid sodium you call volatile in those reactors explode and burn on contact with air?

    And, the problem with certain reactors is the resulting byproduct is plutonium, (you know, the stuff all the terrorists and Iraq type countries want for bombs). It's OK with me to waste a little fuel if the alternative is not only plutonium everywhere, but also, plutonium making technology everywhere as well. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif[/img]

  30. #30
    On 2002-08-29 05:58, beskeptical wrote:
    Doesn't liquid sodium you call volatile in those reactors explode and burn on contact with air?
    I mentioned sodium, so maybe you were refering to me on this. I don't know either, but I'm guessing (worst case) a chemical fire is preferable to a nuclear meltdown. This was the "fast reactor" technology, not breeder (unless they are the same).

    On 2002-08-29 05:58, beskeptical wrote:
    And, the problem with certain reactors is the resulting byproduct is plutonium, (you know, the stuff all the terrorists and Iraq type countries want for bombs). It's OK with me to waste a little fuel if the alternative is not only plutonium everywhere, but also, plutonium making technology everywhere as well. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif[/img]
    Yeah pretty scary. "Where there's a will, there's a way". A good reason to progress the tech for planetary colonization.

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