Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments

dern_the_hermit t1_j22zlmo wrote

> What a great way to gradually get rid of nuclear waste.

Well, for its own waste, sure, since it's already out of Earth's gravity well. For current terrestrial stuff I say we just blast it with lasers until it's whittled down to less-harmful elements. Bonus: We can do this with other toxic substances too.


HeebieMcJeeberson t1_j23042o wrote

Wow that sounds like the magic bullet the nuclear industry has been waiting for. I never even heard of "Chirped Pulse Amplification" before.


dern_the_hermit t1_j230adl wrote

It's crazy energy-intensive, so only makes sense with a very robust and non-emitting energy grid. So waste is gonna be sitting in those concrete casks for many decades yet.

Still, I favor this option over burying it.


zdakat t1_j232pk1 wrote

Guess the waste pack atomizer in Rimworld is based on a real thing then


Pirat6662001 t1_j253bhd wrote

Fusion, basically all of our future techs depend on fusion becoming an actual reality


dern_the_hermit t1_j254b45 wrote

Renewables, actually, and solar in particular. A large amount of solar installation will create an interesting paradigm: If designed around being sufficient during the annual minimum (ie- winter), seasonal variation will net a huge excess of generation in the summer. Tap some of that excess to break down harmful substances.


Blakut t1_j2387ey wrote

nuclear waste is made into something more than it is by climate activists, in reality all the dangerous waste ever produced would fit on cube the size of a football field.


HeebieMcJeeberson t1_j2395rr wrote

Yeah the thing is that it's not a cube the size of a football field, it's in thousands of containers in numerous storage locations all over, and in every place the containers have to be checked and periodically replaced or repaired. I know some people overplay the danger but it's not a trivial problem to underplay either.


ShaggysGTI t1_j23rvhj wrote


HeebieMcJeeberson t1_j264fc6 wrote

This is the story of a 1987 incident in Brazil, in which a small canister of Cesium^137 that had been left in an abandoned cancer treatment facility was found by randos who sold it to a junk dealer, who noticed it glowing blue at night and opened it. A handful of cesium chloride crystals and dust ended up being distributed to people around the community, who used it to bling their bodies and possessions. When people immediately got sick the news reached national authorities, who eventually tested over 100,000 people for exposure. Almost 250 people were highly contaminated, 4 died and 20 developed serious injuries, losing fingers and other body parts. A city block of buildings was demolished and the debris was sealed up along with cars, clothing, family possessions, etc. It was the worst radiological disaster in Brazil's history.

It's a good story about the dangers of badly managing radioactive materials, and what can happen when concentrated nuclides used in thousands of hospitals around the world are opened and handled by people who don't know what they're doing. I'm guessing somebody thought this was relevant to my statement that a total rocket failure would release 2% of the contaminants from a single typical 1950s atom bomb test (more than 2000 of which were performed worldwide).


boh_nor12 t1_j24r3ki wrote

But definitely in the size of a few foot all fields. At least for the North American WIPP site (been there in person a few times).


HeebieMcJeeberson t1_j25whne wrote

Nuclear waste depositories in America

When WIPP says "disposal" they mean "storage".


boh_nor12 t1_j26hwfd wrote

You know, that's an interesting thought.... Disposal vs storage. What classifies as "disposal?" Physically altering something? I'm going to think on this a little.

Edit: and apologies for not commenting on your link. You are correct, those are sites of commercial byproduct. From my understanding, the WIPP is only utilized for federal nuclear waste. At the moment, the US does not have a permanent geological storage/disposal facility for commercial waste. Each of those on that map are most facilities that used to have a reactor nearby.


Withstrangeaeons_ t1_j26j6n3 wrote

Yes. And I think this is kind of good - after all, why bury that much potential energy when you can just use it.


The_Illist_Physicist t1_j23drw8 wrote

It's a fairly common laser amplification technique, the lab I work in uses Chirped Pulse Amplification for a lot of our pulsed lasers.

In order to get an ultrashort pulse of light (short in the time domain) it must be made of a large spectrum of frequencies/colors (long in the spectral domain). This is essentially the Fourier transform relationship, similar to the uncertainty principle.

The problem with high energy, ultrashort pulses is that they like to burn optics. You'll toast a lens if you send a beam with enough power through it. So what you do is separate the pulse into its many colors, amplify them individually, and then recombine. It's simple yet brilliant at the same time.


Withstrangeaeons_ t1_j26i3cf wrote

We already have the magic bullet, and we've had it since the US government made nukes. Search up "nuclear waste reprocessing", but also the costs associated with it. Then Google the price to mine one kg of uranium or thorium, and you'll see why reprocessing hasn't been done yet. Sure would be a shame if the unwashed masses decided to just bury all that potential energy, though (in case it becomes more expensive to mine radioactive material), out of fear of anything having to do with radiation.


HeebieMcJeeberson t1_j27phgg wrote

If you want to go down the government rabbit hole think about thorium reactors, which would be safer and cheaper than uranium/plutonium and with much less waste. We could have had these long ago, but thorium reactors can't produce weapons-grade plutonium, which is why the research money didn't go that route.


Withstrangeaeons_ t1_j2duwzp wrote

Exactly. My take on those people's thinking:

"Say, boss, I noticed that this thing called thorium is also radioactive."

"Can it be turned into nukes?"

"Uhhhh.... It's harder, but yo-"

"Scrap it! Uranium is better for our purposes, then. Forget about thorium."