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The Energy Fix: How Waste Could Power The U.S. For Decades

Posted June 11, 2013 1:30 PM

From Popular Science - New Technology, Science News, The Future Now:

U.S. nuclear reactors store nearly 70,000 metric tons of commercial spent fuel, which remains dangerously radioactive for tens of thousands of years. Engineers at a start-up called Transatomic Power say a reactor they designed could use this stockpile to meet the nation's energy needs for 70 years. Their 500-megawatt Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor (WAMSR) is based on a fluoride molten salt reactor developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s. But two Transatomic cofounders, PhD candidates at MIT, made crucial modifications: They shrunk the reactor by a factor of 20 and engineered it to capture 98 percent of the energy in spent fuel pellets. Half of WAMSR's own waste product, which totals only four kilograms, becomes inert within a couple of hundred years.

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