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Seven Big-Thinking Proposals For Dealing With Nuclear Waste

• Katie Peek and John Bradley via PopSci

In our Future of the Environment issue, we mentioned one visionary's suggestions: self-sinking tungsten spheres that stash spent nuclear fuel deep beneath the Earth's surface. That idea is a long way from reality, but in our green-energy-starved present, it may be worth considering all options, no matter how wacky. Here are a few other pie-in-the-sky ideas.

Click to launch the photo gallery

Nuclear reactors create high-level nuclear waste, composed of spent fuel rods loaded with the still-radioactive isotopes created when uranium-235 fissions. Some of those isotopes, like cesium-137 and strontium-90, have half-lives of 30 years or so -- but high-level waste also includes plutonium-239, which has a half-life of 24,000 years. Thanks to the fission process, fuel rods are actually more radioactive when they come out of the reactor than when they go in. But at the moment, using the spent rods as a source of fuel just isn't cost effective. And 24,000-year storage solutions are hard to come by, it turns out.

In our gallery, an overview of some of the options being considered today.

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Die Daily
Entered on:

Maybe we could form it into bullets which we could then shoot at non-white women and children in order to destroy their genome and render their homelands permanently toxic. Wait...being there, doing that.

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:

Or we could just burn the waste as nuclear fuel, and reburn that waste as more nuclear fuel....  naaaaah, that wouldn't be anywhere near as profitable to the nuclear industrial complex, would it?


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