Is Nuclear Waste Really Waste?
Google Tech Talk
December 6, 2010
Presented by Kirk Sorensen
An economic analysis of what is in spent nuclear fuel.
As a nuclear reactor fissions heavy metal U235 and Pu239, the atoms are split into two randomly sized pieces. Many of these fission products are unstable and rapidly decay into other products. After nuclear reactor fuel has cooled in a pool of water for a few years, and then sat in dry cask storage for another 10--30 years, what is it made of? Is it dangerous waste that needs to be isolated from humanity for 100,000 years or is it precious material waiting to be partitioned and sold? The answer may surprise you.
Kirk Sorensen is chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama. He has been researching the nuclear fuel cycle for many years in connection with a strong interest in thorium as a planetary energy source. He is also a PhD student in nuclear engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville under Dr. Laurence Miller. He runs a blog called "energyfromthorium.com" and is active in the Thorium Energy Alliance (TEA) and the International Thorium Energy Organization (IThEO) and is also a member of the American Nuclear Society (ANS)