The final spent nuclear fuel solution (th)e kral spaces gas nozzle keeps stopping

Seven hundred years ago in England, an energy crisis was caused by massive deforestation and a lack of firewood. It was solved by turning to coal, a filthy, inexpensive, and abundant fuel. But as the skies darkened over the cities of England and the United States, people turned to gas and oil to improve the situation. Now the existing usage of these fossil fuels will have to be eliminated or cleaned up due to the environmental damage they cause and the social, political, and financial instability they will eventually engender.

Fortunately, in 1939, some smart people discovered the physical process that would allow us to generate clean electricity power forever—the fission of the heavy elements known as actinides. By 1944, those smart people realized there were actually several different ways to use this physical process to provide a new clean energy.

One of those approaches was relativity easy. It involved the use of a substance almost as rare as gold—uranium-235. Even back then, physicists realized that uranium-235 fission was not going to be a long-term energy solution. There simply wasn’t enough of it discovered at that time. The other two approaches were more difficult to fission but promised essentially unlimited amounts of energy. One was to fission the common isotope of uranium-238, and the other was the use of thorium-232, which was abundant on every continent and the moon.

In one of the great historical tragedies of human history, this marvelous new energy source was discovered during a time of war, and was immediately put to work for destructive means. This colored and affected forever how world leaders and the public would view this incredible discovery, and created a legacy that we find ourselves, seventy years later, still trying to move past.

Well, enough is enough and now is the time to move past the technology of the 1950’s, the fission reactors designed to power navy ships in the cold blue ocean waters that kept the fission reaction moderated and managed. These reactors were small and when the US government decided to scale up the size and move the reactor to land sites they introduced three primary problems; 1) they required water to keep them cool and if they lost that cooling, the reactor would over heat and melt the core (Fukushima), 2) they did not use up all the fuel and had to store the unused portion, 3) and then there was the problem of proliferation of actinides if not properly secured. These three problems created a tremendous cost overhead for the nuclear industry to manage.

After sixty years the nuclear industry has managed to control these expensive, but very safe, water cooled nuclear reactors and at the same time, generated over 100,000 tons of unused uranium fuel which was also managed in a safe environment. Today, everyone is focused on safe storage technology and interim locations of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) when that isn’t a problem or a final solution.

What we should be focused on is how to completely eliminate the entire SNF issue. That can only be done with advanced nuclear reactors designed to consume all the nuclear fuel without waste, in a fission process that is already liquid and will never melt down and most important, walk away safe, all for pennies on the dollar compared to today’s heavily regulated nuclear power fleet.

There are over 77 independent R&D private investment ventures solving the next generation of reactors while eliminating the problems of the past. Several of the better designs I have studied are based on two primary processes – molten fluoride salt ‘thermal’ reactors (MFSTR) using both liquid uranium or liquid thorium fuels and the molten chloride salt ‘fast’ reactors (MCSFR) using the liquefied source of fuels like SNF, depleted uranium and weapons grade plutonium. The fast reactor is the immediate solution for getting rid of all existing stored nuclear fuels that many people are very concerned about. The thermal reactor is the final energy solution here on earth and throughout deep space with unlimited thorium as its fuel base. That is, until something better comes along (like fusion).

There are those that just want to store tons of HLW/SNF in deep repositories like Yucca Mountain for thousands of years. However, if the SNF is stored in neutron absorbing dry canisters those actinides will remain highly radioactive, but only for 300 years. There is one last process: to use the SNF as fuel in fast spectrum reactors which will reduce those actinides to a high level radioactive duration of only 100 years. What is left over can be chemically separated to remove medical isotopes and discard the unused isotopes in a deep repository like Yucca Mountain for permanent storage or even a simple bore hole for permanent storage or better yet, recycle them back into the fast reactors fuel stream again.

What we have done is taken ~100,000 tons of HLW/SNF and reduced it to a few highly radioactive grams of actinides and tons of natural uranium to put back in the ground where it came from. Although this is not 100% elimination, it is 99.9% and if they still need a place to safely store that .1%, I have plenty of room in my backyard.