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'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/11/2013 4:43 PM

I was listening to John Wells interview 4 scientists about the Japanese problems relating to the failure of containment and one of the things pointed out, was the storage of 'spent' fuel rods. I was not aware that we have 104 sites in the US that have been accumulating 'spent' rods that must be cooled in pools, and if the cooling fails, it's approx. 5 hours until they are exposed to air and start to burn at 5000 degrees, and can spew a large amount of cesium and plutonium. Is this a ticking time bomb?

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#1

Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 4:55 PM

Absolutely. Every nuclear generation facility in the USA stores their depleted fuel on-site!

I don't know what foreign countries do.

There are "dry storage" methods, too, but this is a classic NIMBY in any case.

Nobody wants them so, they just sit.

Maybe it's better to have the waste spread all over the place than have one giant bunch in one place to go off all at once.

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 6:15 PM

Politics...as usual.

Billions have been spent, and it sits empty.

http://freebeacon.com/appeals-court-obama-shutdown-of-yucca-mountain-is-illegal/

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#10
In reply to #4

Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 6:56 PM

Tell us, Grasshopper, putting aside the political fodder, what is your assessmant of the merits of Yucca Mountain?

Do you have any idea how much depleted fuel there is in storage at the various facilities, and how much it will cost to transport the fuel to Yucca Mountain.

Any idea how much and how long the simple task of permitting and transporting that fuel will cost?

Any idea about the half life of this stuff?

As usual the gutless politicians are kicking another radioactive can down the road.

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#16
In reply to #10

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 5:01 AM

My assessment of the merits of Yucca Mountain, is that if we built it, we should be using it; and if it was a bad idea, it shouldn't have been built.

My assessment of politicians, is that they are useless and worthless.

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#20
In reply to #16

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 8:51 AM

All I see is a court tell Obama that he is not above the law. That he does not have the authority to shut it down. Still goes nowhere with out funding.

Merits of Yucca Mountain site as a storage facility for nuclear waste is a waste. Better to make it a recycle facility. Now we have to get congress to change it out look on the recycle aspect of nuclear waste.

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#35
In reply to #16

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 1:28 PM

"Those that can, DO! Those that can't become Politicians".

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#40
In reply to #35

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 2:14 PM

At the risk of being 'accosted' for reiterating "politics" here...

Medical school entrance question:
"Re-arrange these letters:
P N E S I
to spell out an important part of the human body that is more useful when erect."

Those who spelled SPINE became doctors.
The rest are in Congress.

[{( self-OT'd )}]

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#41
In reply to #40

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 2:51 PM

And PENIS is not also a correct answer?

Politicians could all use a SPINE in order to allow them to make the right decision

and not use the other one ON all of us!

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#24
In reply to #10

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 11:23 AM

how much it will cost to transport the fuel to Yucca Mountain.

If a fast reactor were put on the same sites where spent fuel rods are stored, transportation would not be needed. Reprocessing would be done right there. Also, the same electrical generation facilities and power lines could be used, avoiding the cost of building new.

Any idea about the half life of this stuff?

The half-life of the thermal reactor spent fuel is hugely long; the waste coming out of fast reactors can be short, because it burns the long-lived stuff to make electricity.

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#29
In reply to #24

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 12:03 PM

"If a fast reactor were put on the same sites where spent fuel rods are stored"

And how does the cost and permitting time of fast reactors work out as opposed to transporting to Nevada?

I agree with you that it makes more sense, but can it be done?

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#2

Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 5:44 PM

This is a problem but I do not like the ticking time bomb analogy because time is not the problem, maintenance of a booby trap is the problem.

I still very much like the idea of adding a neutron spallation accelerator to a reactor. This approach can be used as a method for a sub-critical reactor (Thorium) or to just "burn" spent fuel rods into isotopes with manageable half-lives.

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#22
In reply to #2

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 11:10 AM

just "burn" spent fuel rods into isotopes with manageable half-lives.

The fast nuclear reactor will do that. I especially like the IFR, because the various parts work well together--what I call an elegant solution. The IFR can use the spent fuel rods, after reprocessing to convert to metallic fuel, and continue burn-up which uses the plutonium and other actinides to produce energy. The resulting waste has a much, much smaller half-life, and is also a lot less in volume. Thus the stored spent fuel rods will gradually decrease over the years. And if we convert away from thermal reactors to the IFR, the spent fuel rod supply will not continue to be replenished.

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#30
In reply to #22

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 12:31 PM

This is a form of fast reactor. The proposal by the Belgian team is to use the spent fuel rods as is, no processing at all. A smaller sub-critical fast reactor "throttled" by the accelerator can be built at existing facilities to consume their stored spent rods. Some energy can be additionally drawn out and fed into the power grid with this process. This seems to me to be the way to go. It uses the unanswered legacy problem of the thermal reactors we already have operational. Dangerous material does not get shipped to a reprocessing plant to make more fuel rods or possibly weapon grade material nuclear material.

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#42
In reply to #30

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 3:06 PM

Isn't that the crux of why we aren't reusing spent rods?

I could swear that I read something about byproducts possibly being used in dirty bombs, and not allowing that possibility to happen.

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#28
In reply to #2

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 11:58 AM

Re: neutron spallation ... Hmmm... (an opportunity to ASK!)

"Inside that nuclear reactor would be a neutron spallation source, which is a material that can produce lots of fast-moving neutrons when you hit it with high energy protons. To get those high energy protons, you attach a particle accelerator to the top of the reactor and turn it on."

I'm 1st to admit that I'm no physicist ... but ... why does (a variation of) the question asked of Ben Stiller & Jack Black come-to-mind?

Have we learned how to manufacture protons and neutrons? Is there an 'easy-to-read' explanation somewhere that specifically and completely delineates the total safety of all the 'material' from which we *strip* either protons or neutrons...?

In all such references (as above), I don't believe that I've ever seen mention of a response to: "Where does all the (stripped-stuff) go...?" What does it "become"...?

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#51
In reply to #28

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 9:23 PM

You wished for an answer to these questions, I'll give you a few of my answers.

I have no idea at all what Stiller asked Black or vice versa in this movie. You are on your own for your first question.

Have we learned how to manufacture protons and neutrons? Yes. You may remember that the nucleus of a Hydrogen atom is a proton. To make a proton all that you have to do is ionize a Hydrogen atom. Protons are so easy to fabricate and control that proton therapy is now an outpatient medical procedure performed in many strip malls with a medical office.

Neutrons are more difficult to produce but not unknown. The original method to produce fast neutrons is with a fission reaction occurring in a nuclear reactor. Ironically these neutrons must be slowed down to sustain the chain reaction. Part of the reason fuel rods become spent is the lack of moderation the remnants provide. This is why a slow neutron source can continue the fission process on spent fuel. Bombarding various targets with a proton beam will generate a mixture of protons, short lived muons and slow neutrons in a beam after the target. If an experiment requires just neutrons then a high voltage can steer the protons away from a desired target. Transmuting and extending the fission process of spent fuel does not require a pure neutron beam.

Now the target in this process does transmute to other elements. Transmuting a material does make radioactive material. The point of this process is that when looking at all of the components before and after there are less total radioactive material left in the end and that radioactive material has a half life orders of magnitude smaller than the original radioactive material.

Now is this a totally safe process? If you want to be totally safe today, you should have died yesterday. Nothing is totally safe. This is a safer process than the process that generated the spent fuel because at no time is there a critical reaction happening. In other words, nothing actively has to be done to stop the process.

There certainly will be dangerous residue that must be properly handled afterwards. This is not a 100% sanitizing result. Nothing is ever that good. However, I do believe that this will put us all in a better position than before for the reasons I already mentioned.

Now for the rub. This is a proposed albeit promising method to deal with spent fuel. AFAIK nobody has implemented, let alone tested in a moderate scale operation this approach to deal with already produced spent fuel. All of the parts have been tested separately but not a full integration. The theory says that this is plausible.

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#53
In reply to #51

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 10:08 PM

Now is this a totally safe process? If you want to be totally safe today, you should have died yesterday. Nothing is totally safe.

Out of context, but let's remember this when the anti-nuclear people get going.

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#3

Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 6:11 PM

Spent?

Maybe a dumb question, but if these "spent" rods burn at 5000° when exposed to air, why not put them in sealed units, give them a limited and controlled amount of air, and use them to generate steam for turbines?

That's an over simplification, but that's a lot of potential heat we are storing and not using.

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#6
In reply to #3

Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 6:32 PM

It's radioactive and dangerous.

This is all oversimplified as is your injection of politics, again.

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#8
In reply to #3

Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 6:38 PM

Really!? I guess you were on hiatus when Ronseto asked the very same question.

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#15
In reply to #8

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 4:58 AM

I missed that one. It was back when the mods were playing God.

So, it looks like the 5000° number is false.

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#59
In reply to #8

Re: ticking bomb?

11/13/2013 2:39 PM

as was i..one misses more threads then one participates in for a variety of reasons...i went through the Ronseto thread you referenced and honestly i still can not fathom why these heat generating rods are treated like a problem instead of a resource..The chinese model referenced in the ronseto thread(nearer the beginning i think) made sense..Use the spent rods to generate centralized heating...Paying our oil bills on an annualized basis for heating only makes me envious of centralized heating solutions using spent fuel rods..Perhaps my government and the worlds largest nuclear generating station a few short decadel kilometeres away by water would lend me a few bundles or at least rent them to me during the winter months and take them back in late spring..whatever..there is opportunity in spent for generating nuclear energy rod in a controllable fierce way to spent rods to generate heat at a less frantic pace in a way that can heat our homes in these colder climes.

"again there is no waste..period.."

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#9
In reply to #3

Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 6:48 PM

From Wikipedia:

"...Rather than manage the pool's inventory to minimize the possibility of continued fission activity, China is building a 200 MWt nuclear reactor to run on used fuel from nuclear power stations to generate process heat for district heating and desalination. Essentially an SFP operated as a deep pool-type reactor; it will operate at atmospheric pressure, which will reduce the engineering requirements for safety.[3]..."

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#11
In reply to #3

Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 7:30 PM

Spent rods and Low enriched uranium(LEU) are used for process heat pools and other low heat applications.....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLOWPOKE

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pool-type_reactor

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#58
In reply to #3

Re: ticking bomb?

11/13/2013 2:05 PM

i've wondered the same thing for years...perhaps further along this thread someone will provide a logical reason why it can't be done but it sure seems like a waste of potential ,as you mentioned, to make steam in a closed loop system of substance....

"There is no waste..period"

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#5

Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 6:21 PM

If you're looking for stuff to be worried about you can do a lot better than cooling pools, they have such a low probability of failure....Deadly fuels and gases are stored and transported around you every hour of the day and night, you're just not aware of them....

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#23
In reply to #5

Re: ticking bomb?

11/12/2013 11:12 AM

Neat graphic.

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#7

Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 6:33 PM

The secret plan was to slowly put all the nuclear waste in hotdogs.

Why not? Everything else is in there.

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#12
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Re: ticking bomb?

11/11/2013 7:37 PM
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#13

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/11/2013 11:30 PM

Let's set up a competition where companies can build a "launch spent nuclear fuel rods into outer space" machine. We can give the winner a $100M prize. Maybe we can encapsulate them into pods that shoot into space via tubes lined with magnets and have the pods ride on a thin layer of air. We can even make it battery powered that runs over 200 miles per charge. In fact, we can piggyback space cargo in the pods with the spent rods.

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#17
In reply to #13

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 7:13 AM

"Let's set up a competition where companies can build a "launch spent nuclear fuel rods into outer space" machine. We can give the winner a $100M prize."

Yes, but it is the losers that I would be worried about!

How would you like plutonium raining down on your back yard?

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#36
In reply to #17

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 1:43 PM

I needed a good laugh this morning! Thanks

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#25
In reply to #13

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 11:25 AM

This just transfers the problem to where it will bother us later.

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#14

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/11/2013 11:33 PM

The proper metric for nuclear electricity is deaths per Kwh compared to other modes of production. If you just want to be scared, watch zombie movies.

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#27
In reply to #14

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 11:28 AM

The safety record is better! It is safer to work in a nuclear facility than in a school.

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#57
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/13/2013 1:35 PM

"It is safer to work in a nuclear facility than in a school."

I was an EM/Nuclear propulsion plant operator aboard CGN-37 USS South Carolina.

After a few years of standing watches in the plant (most often the 4-8s (am&pm)) and having the plant as my work center (where I work 8am to 5pm), I was transferred to "topside" electrical shop (non-nuke) as my work center (but still stuck in the plant for watches)

My TLD readings actually increased once I was receiving more natural radiation instead of being in the plant 8-4 each workday.

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#18

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 7:59 AM

Recycle the fuel, that is what France does with the spent fuel from the plants they have built all over the world.

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#19

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 8:10 AM

Welcome to the nuclear world. Storage is becoming a great problem indeed, not so much as to how(as long as proper maintenance procedures are carried out storage should not be a problem, but welcome to the human world-where, of course, people err and do take shortcuts), but more as to how much. Storage locations is a hot topic just about everywhere, and we do live in a NIMBY world.

Recently, there has been a "competition" of communities wanting to store the waste because it is a paying proposition where the government will pay, in perpetuity, for the space, and of course will create local jobs.

Follow the proper storage procedures, I can't see any problem, except of course, the human one.

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#26
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 11:27 AM

My understanding is the Candu Reactors do not have spent rod problems- with the rest - again my understanding is that you cannot create more than existed before- therefore grind the rods and mix with waste rock and return them to the original mines sites as fill- the laws of nature says the energy emmitted would be less than that that existed before the material was mined-but maybe this is too simple for exalted thinkers in Government- and after all large amounts of radiation remain in nature so we all get some minimal exposure already

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#32
In reply to #26

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 1:04 PM

my understanding is that you cannot create more than existed before

Yes, you cannot create more matter/energy than you had, but matter can be transmuted into other elements; that's why there is plutonium and other actinides in the used fuel assemblies. By splitting these into fission products, you get gobs of energy plus less radioactivity to deal with.

therefore grind the rods and mix with waste rock and return them to the original mines sites

Don't have to. The ecologists would clobber you! The IFR, which I favor among other fast reactors, can burn this used fuel for energy.

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#43
In reply to #26

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 4:06 PM

IIn fact the recyled fuel is better than the first time around! But

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#49
In reply to #26

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 6:36 PM

Sir,

In the fission process we are creating a larger quantity of material that is radioactive than in the original ore. Although many of the isotopes have half-lives that are 1/1000 (or less) than that for the Uranium, these half-lives are still many, many times longer than the lifetime of the most stable human governments on earth. Therefore, you need storage or handling methods that do not rely upon continued or continuous human action.

Everywhere in the handling of radioactive materials, we create a larger quantity of radioactive material than we began with. Usually this larger quantity is at a lower level of radiation than the original, but a lethal dose in one month compared to one hour is still a lethal dose.

The original plans for on-site storage of spent fuel rods were made with what was then considered a reasonable assumption--that a permanent storage location would be available within 5-10 years. EVERY reactor in the USA now is storing 2x to 5x the amount of spent fuel rods on site than the original designs (except for a few that have been decommissioned and shipped the spent fuel to nearby sites). This is creating the problem of excessive heating.

Sending it to space (to the sun) is a "pie in the sky" idea--I suggest you look at this from an engineer's or an economist's perspective. You would see that the cost and the risk would bankrupt us very quickly.

The various reactor designs suggested in this thread? Every one still has to handle contaminated equipment, tools, coolant, clothing, etc. Yes, some of them can in theory transmute the fuel into isotopes with shorter half-lives, but my comments earlier still apply.

At one time, atomic energy was presented as power so cheap you couldn't afford to meter it. Well, we know differently now. I suspect that coming generations will view it as an experiment worse than dropping atomic bombs.

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#21

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 9:21 AM

I highly recommend that everyone watch Galen Winsor's film "The Nuclear Scare Scam." He is a nuclear engineer who started out at Hanford right after world war II. Later in life he went on to become a safety supervisor for GE at a nuclear plant. He became a rebel after the Nuclear Regulatory Cartel as he calls them started imposing new exposure levels. To prove his point he started taking swims in the spend fuel pool. And when that proved ineffective he started drinking the pool water and eating Uranium Oxide. He died at the age of 80 of Natural Causes.

But this has nothing to do with to posters OP. In witch the answer is the pools would unfortunately boil dry and the fuel would then catch fire. But Galen Winsor worked on a spent fuel processing plant project back in the 1970 that would have processed this fuel before it needed to cool completely. But when that program was shut down by Nixon....we'll you just need to see the film.

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#31
In reply to #21

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 12:52 PM

Where can I find that film?

Another film that we ought to see is Pandora's Promise. I haven't been able to yet, because it hasn't been shown around here--northeast Ohio.

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#34
In reply to #31

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 1:04 PM

"Where can I find that film?"

An hour-and-a-half HERE ... (via this)...

Lemme know if it answers my query in post#28...

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#44
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 4:13 PM

Thanks for the link. I haven't watched all of that movie yet; the first 12 minutes were quite interesting.

I suspect that neutron spallation source may be some sort of fiction; at least I've never heard of it. It would undoubtedly consume more energy than it is worth; aren't particle accelerators energy hogs?

What is going to happen when a nuclide is hit with an energetic neutron? I'll assume these are not fissile nuclides. If you strip off a bunch of neutrons (or protons), it will be unstable--in other words, radioactive, perhaps extremely so. So, what have you gained? The neutron could also be absorbed (what is the cross-section for absorption?) and it would probably also be radioactive.

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#46
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 4:43 PM

Wow. I provide links to the World Nuclear Association and a layman's caliber internet magazine article about neutron spallation being plausibly used to mitigate spent nuclear fuel rods and it gets dismissed without viewing. Would you believe that neutron spallation does exist if I showed you the Oak Ridge Neutron spallation web page?

<sulk>

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#47
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 5:09 PM

Sorry Red, since we are now on the Dupont network I have a very limited range of internet access. I'll have to read that one at home and get back to you.

Spallation, I have that problem with plastic/rubber/ nepoprene transfer lines and peristaltic pumps. LOL

not sure how that will effect spent fuel rods, but if i can get it in the hose I'll bet I can spallate it.

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#48
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 5:37 PM

"FWIW" ... thanks-for-that (link)... Although I haven't scoured the entire site, I *still* have YET to find the answer to my query (post#28)...

THIS page at their website, though, DOES afford the following (spallation-target) news from end-of-year 2012:

"On two separate occasions, a stainless-steel vessel that holds the 40,000-pound mercury target failed prematurely, forcing a shutdown of operations." (due to a couple of weld failures)

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#52
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 9:55 PM

Sorry, my mind related spallation to a chunk of concrete spalling off--or something similar. But I guess knocking out a bunch of neutrons is similar. But a question: what happens to the Hg when the atom loses that many neutrons? Does it become radioactive and transmute to something else after several decays?

They must have changed terminology since I last messed with this stuff. I thought BeV came after MeV, but they now seem to use GeV. I should have taken a clue from computer terminology.

Interesting, the spell check doesn't like "spall" and derivatives.

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#54
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 10:16 PM

While other elements are used for neutron spallation targets the advantage of using Hg is that the common elements (199, 200, 201, & 202) are all stable even 198 is stable. The rare proton will get captured making an isotope of Thallium with a half life of days.

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#55
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/13/2013 8:55 AM

Redfred: Quite off-topic, but is there online a "Chart of the Nuclides?" I had a paper one, but it disintegrated long ago. I have found a "dynamic periodic table" (www.ptable.com); the chart of nuclides might have provided part of the answer to my question.

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#56
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/13/2013 9:56 AM

Ahem, my links to Thallium and Mercury above is just the Thallium and Mercury nuclide entries. The web site covers the full periodic table. Try it.

If your web browser does not support clicking a link I'll post the web address.

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#39
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 2:14 PM

I've been wanting to see Pandora's Promise as well. I searched for it for 3 hours on Friday with no luck. It will be available on Nextflix or I tunes Dec 3rd.

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#33
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 1:04 PM

Jimmy Carter stopped reprocessing nuclear fuel rod by Presendental decree.

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#37
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 1:57 PM

Presen(t)dental ...

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#38
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 1:58 PM

He also gave away the Panama Canal..

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#61
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/14/2013 3:52 PM

I watched the video. Convincing talk, but I kept wondering: Is that guy full of BS, or is he somehow immune to radiation effects? Comments?

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#45

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 4:39 PM

Well I know everyone is holding therir breathe waiting for Rashy to drop in on this very common topic near and dear to my heart.

I still say rail gun it to the sun. if you use rail gun tech then failed lauches are non issues since maglev either does or doesn't. it either makes it to space or shuts down. No catastrophic failures like rockets have. In case of a failure to achieve terminal velocity the maglev simply shuts down and decelerates the payload to a safe stop for relaunch. Think TVG of ICE. This is pretty solid and safe technology with plenty of real world experience being applied and a lot of good research being done both by the military and private sector. I have a friend who accepted a fellowship at Maxx Plank last year to research this exact problem.

Of course there could be the moon....

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#50
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/12/2013 9:22 PM

As I said before: keep it here and put it in a fast reactor to use for energy.

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#60

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/13/2013 5:13 PM

Just a clarifing point: the 2nd sentence of the OP is misleading; "... that must be stored in pools ..." implies the fuel bundles can self heat to the melting point forever - thus the need for pool storage, again, forever. The spend fuel bundles are typically stored in pools for about 5 years to allow (amoung other things) the short lived / high heat producing radionuclides die off. After that they can be put into dry storage containers and set outside.

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#62

Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/14/2013 10:43 PM

Here is some referenced information on the Spent Nuclear Fuel issue.

http://cr4.globalspec.com/thread/80479

The nuclear industry has no incentive to address the issue. It is not their problem. The industry paid their 1/10 of one cent per KWH sold into the Nuclear Waste Fund. It is now the US taxpayer who holds responsibility for the security, transportation, and storage of SNF and High Level Waste, in perpetuity; not the Plant Operators.

Why would the industry invest in some risky venture when a very favorable fixed cost solves the problem already?

If we wish to address the problem then the perhaps the best start would be to:

1. Stop enriching new fuel.

2. Repeal the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

3. Re-assign responsibility for the SNF and HLW back to the operators.

4. Return all funds back to the operators to support the development of what ever technologies needed to evolve a sustainable business model.

Ohhh - and what kind of a Dumb *ss would put all that stuff in one place?

The spent fuel ponds are being overloaded because the Tax Payer hasn't come to collect their trash.

The first step in that process is moving the stuff that is ready to dry cask storage - on site.

Perhaps plan on using the plant sites as the storage sites in perpetuity. The plant grounds are hopefully, by now, secure; and relatively well dispersed.

Its time to quite kicking this can down the road. In terms of economic impact; it must be the Greatest Generation's most profound legacy, a current threat, and most probably a costly expense to many generations of our progeny.

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#63
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/15/2013 3:40 PM

Lots of ideas on dealing with this problem....but you're right, this can has been kicked down the road too long. My question about this being a 'ticking bomb', even if stored in cooling pools for 5 years is related to what has happened in Japan. If these rods are stored outside containment, are the systems redundant enough to continue cooling through all of the possibilities that might disable the cooling and allow them to start spewing radioactive material? Are they protected from terrorists? Do they have backup cooling that would operate if a CME or other problem shut down the system? 104 sites in the US seems like a lot of potential problem.

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#64
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/15/2013 10:18 PM

OK, let's stop debating on who or how this can has ended up so far down the road. Let us focus instead on how these foolish Japanese decided to try to solve their energy concerns by risking everything blessed to humanity.

No wait, that's not what you asked. you asked a couple of questions. You asked if there is backup cooling? There is no need for powered backup cooling of the spent fuel rods. Convection circulation of a liquid is sufficient cooling.

You also asked if terrorists could reach this material? Really! As somebody who was on a sidewalk of Fulton street in Manhattan seven hundred and ninety seven days ago, I am perplexed by your question. Terrorists by definition want the most amount of people to be afraid of their actual and possible actions. They already have you. They won't get me. No matter how yellow bellied you are.

Yes, there are 104 sites in the US with a problem. These sites and the communities around them were told there was a solution. Then the solution disappeared in a puff of political smoke. Some of the reasons that made that smoke I do agree with but it was a process in place for better or worse. Instead of creating a replacement program, the only program was scrapped. I have and several others here and elsewhere have proposed many viable methods that could mitigate this problem. "Perfection is the enemy of progress." [I think that this is an English paraphrase of Voltaire. I still like it whoever first said it.]

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#65
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/16/2013 12:01 AM

"there was a solution." ------

There was never a "solution." The capacity of Yucca Mountain was not sufficient to hold existing SNF. On site storage already exceeds the planned capacity.

Does placing all of this material at one location make sense? I don't even see any economy of scale given the unique challenges SNF presents.

Repeal the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, return the money and responsibility back to the operators, and let capitalism work.

We already have 104 secure sites for storage that can, and are, being used until reprocessing technologies can be brought on line.

How the American Taxpayer got stuck with this I will never understand.

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#66
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/16/2013 1:45 PM

Whoa up! You seem to be describing thermal reactor problems. The fast reactor is a huge improvement. I like the Integral Fast Reactor. These fast-spectrum neutron reactors will use up the used fuel from the thermal reactors, and make energy out of it. The thermal reactor used fuel is causing most of the problem, because of the long-lived actinides in it. The IFR will use them for energy; of course the IFR also has waste, but several orders of magnitude less radioactive, meaning less storage time; and much less volume too.

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#68
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/16/2013 10:45 PM

One step at a time -

Repeal the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, return the money and responsibility back to the operators, and let capitalism work.

Then perhaps there will be the economic incentive to evolve the technology you support.

Right now there is no economic incentive for the operators to participate in meeting the challenges.

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#67
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Re: 'Spent' Nuclear Fuel Rods

11/16/2013 2:07 PM

How the American Taxpayer got stuck with this I will never understand.

Um...We pay for everything. The mistakes, the fixes, and everything in between. They have already far outstripped our ability to pay for it all.

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