[ RadSafe ] "There's No Such Thing As Nuclear Waste"

George Stanford gstanford at aya.yale.edu
Sat Mar 14 12:25:36 CDT 2009

Dr. Long:

         While I'll drink to most of what you say, there's a 
misunderstanding that's all too common.

At 10:45 AM 3/14/2009,you wrote:
>"What would energy costs be if "nuclear waste" were recycled like 
>France and the USNavy now do . . .?"

         Fact is, "recycling" as currently practised by France does 
very little to improve resource utilization.  Thermal reactors (the 
kind now used in France and elsewhere) cannot extract even one 
percent of the energy latent in the mined uranium. The U.S. 
once-through cycle used about 0.7% of the ore's energy.  By recycling 
the plutonium (twice) and a little of the uranium from the spent 
fuel, France can come up to something like 0.9%.

         For one thing, the enrichment process leaves behind some 90% 
of the energy in the form of DU, and perhaps 5% of the energy that 
makes it into the fuel gets used.

         The only way to get at the other 99% percent is in a 
fast-neutron spectrum.  The French know all this, of course, which is 
why they (along with China, India, Japan, Russia, . . .) are working 
on the development of fast reactors.

         Development of the U.S. fast reactor, the IFR (a project I 
worked on), was terminated for not-technical reasons in 1994, when it 
was on the verge of readiness for a commercial 
demonstration.  General Electric continued low-level development, and 
is now ready and able to build a commercial-scale demonstration plant 
(the S-PRISM), given some seed money.  The demo should be funded.

         I'm not familiar with what the U.S. Navy does.  However they 
use thermal reactors with highly enriched uranium, I believe, which 
leaves even more of the ore's energy behind in DU.

         Here are some references, for anyone who wants to do some 
background reading on the IFR.  It's one of the best-kept 
(unclassified) secrets.

Hannum, W. H., G. E. Marsh and G. S. Stanford, "Smarter Use of 
Nuclear Waste." Scientific American, December 2005, pp 84-91.

Till, Charles E., "Plentiful Energy and the IFR Story," International 
Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology (IJNG2E). Vol 1, 
No. 1. pp 212-221
<http://home.comcast.net/~georgestanford1/wsb/IFR_Story.IJNG.Gg.pdf >

Stanford, George S. , "Integral Fast Reactors: Source of Safe, 
Abundant, Non-Polluting Power." December 2001
<http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA378.html >

Till. Charles E., "Reminiscences of Reactor Development at Argonne 
National Laboratory." W.B. Lewis Lecture, Canadian Nuclear Society, 
Saint John, New Brunswick , June 4, 2007
or < http://tinyurl.com/2gnctw>

Blees, Tom, Prescription for the Planet: The Painless Remedy for Our 
Energy & Environmental Crises. Booksurge, 2008. 
<http://www.prescriptionfortheplanet.com/ > .

Shuster, Joseph M.  Beyond Fossil Fools: The Roadmap to Energy 
Independence by 2040. < http://www.beyondfossilfools.com/>

Kirsch, Steve.  "The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) project."  August 2008.


                 George Stanford
                 Reactor physicist, retired

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