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Highway to Hell

Nuclear waste can surf to the Earth's Core
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Everyone likes the idea of sending nuclear waste far from any green and pleasant lands. The problem is getting it there - rockets to the sun might crash, waste placed in deep sea trenches might contaminate water, etc.

A recent article proposes that enough molten iron, poured into a hole, would be so heavy that the plume of molten iron would continue to roll downward al the way to the center of the earth. I wish I could take credit for this awesomely halfbaked idea but it was published in Nature. If this were actually done, once it became clear that the iron was well underway, old plutonium and other nuclear stuff could be dumped in the hole as well. Heavier than the molten iron, spent fuel rods would sink down to the advancing front and from there be carried all the way to the center of the earth. At the center of the Earth, the slow decay of the waste will help heat the planet and fuel plate tectonics.

bungston, Jun 09 2003

Molten iron http://www.sciencen...g/20030517/fob2.asp
[bungston, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Would be nice if a highway would connect southwest to northeast. http://www.mapquest...&homesubmit=Get+Map
Hell, Michigan, that is. Curiously close to Detroit. [RayfordSteele]

Sounds lovely. http://home.hiwaay....ll-grand-cayman.htm [RayfordSteele, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Sounds lovely. http://home.hiwaay....ll-grand-cayman.htm
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

[link]






       Wonder if this can be used as an energy source too.
babyloon, Jun 09 2003
  

       Sp: gleen and preasant rand.
thumbwax, Jun 09 2003
  

       Finally! We have somewhere to dump those naked pictures of Whoopi Goldberg.
sambwiches, Jun 09 2003
  

       *retch* - I think you just gave me radioactive poisoning.
thumbwax, Jun 09 2003
  

       I saw show on TV the other night talking about the process at the center of the earth's core. And magnetic feild reversal, which they say occurs several times over millions of years. Actually they highlighted some scientists who were working with liguid sodium that was heated and forced to circulate in a chamber. using non-radioactive process. they were able to induce strong magnetic feilds with the setup, although they remarked peak results in feild strength were achieved in altenate heating and cooling circulations? with this idea potentally, you could slow the natural tendecy of the feild reversal, by suplimenting the reaction.
supercheezynachos, Jun 09 2003
  

       Heck, just let the stuff melt down: the resultant mess will be heavier than your molten iron, and require no extra heating. It will just make its way straight down. The only problem, of course, are the poisonous and radioactive fumes it will give off on the way.   

       This is not an especially new idea, by the way.
DrCurry, Jun 09 2003
  

       I was only tring to be pheshious, of course nothing we could do, could affect the earths core. but your right the whole situation would be a mess.
supercheezynachos, Jun 09 2003
  

       You will note, [jutta], that I did not take credit for the molten iron idea, but rather suggested this technique could be used to ferry wastes. Analogous to your adaptation of the dishwasher basket to wash chopsticks - the basket is not new, the application is.
bungston, Jun 09 2003
  

       Someone has to ask the question, "Is the Highway to Hell truly paved with Good Intentions?" I cannot be certain from the description and annotations, although [jutta]'s retort makes me suspect paving ideas of this sort aren't her idea of a well-considered chemistry experiment or civic improvement.   

       <jurist adds supercheezynacho's "pheshious" to his lexicon, and wonders if it is close in meaning to "specious" or, perhaps, "facetious" ?>
jurist, Jun 10 2003
  

       Better than *fecetious* (which is what most people mean anyway)
thumbwax, Jun 10 2003
  

       Since we're jumpin' on nachos, "i" before "e"!
goober, Jun 10 2003
  

       [Jutta], I double monkey dare you to post that as a seperate idea.
bungston, Jun 10 2003
  

       I always thought the glassification thing looked reasonably secure. I reckon the thing to do then would be not to dump, but PLACE the glassified waste in a known area of the sea bed, and send ROVs around regularly which would monitor radioactivity. If anything leaks a bit, then bring it up and re- process.   

       Monitoring would continue for a couple of hundred years, until a) the radioactivitiy had decayed and/or b) total confidence in the storage was established.   

       If these sites were at the bottom of deep ocean trencehes, over geological time the waste would end up in the earth's core.
RusNash, Jun 21 2003
  

       That sidesteps the coolest thing about glassification, which is the bombs designed to hydrodynamically shoot downwards, carrying the waste, then hit and embed themselves deep in the ocean floor silt. If you just place it on the floor, what would you do with those cool bombs?
bungston, Jun 22 2003
  

       // If these sites were at the bottom of deep ocean trencehes, over geological time the waste would end up in the earth's core. \\   

       You stay the hell away from ocean trenches! That's my livelyhood! Grrrr....
Madcat, Sep 10 2003
  

       //Better than *fecetious* (which is what most people mean anyway)//   

       Except for those people who mean *Facetious*, I presume...
X2Entendre, Sep 10 2003
  

       Fuel plate tectonics?   

       Maybe not such a good idea... do we want to have more earthquakes
Bob Goatse, Oct 20 2003
  

       //Except for those people who mean *Facetious*, I presume...//
No - "fecetious" - as in *full of shit*
thumbwax, Oct 20 2003
  

       Where would we put the site of the hole entrance? and the transport system ferrying the evil waste to it (etc..) I suspect you will just end up moving the problem along the chain. Maybe we should just learn our lesson and convert to renewable energy sources - such as harnessing the sound energy of the mating calls of a giant cage of randy monkeys!
dobtabulous, Oct 21 2003
  

       As it goes down, it will contaminate the surrounding rock with radioactivity.   

       It would take some really good physics (and probably some failed tests) to make sure that you don't create more radioactive soil, gases, than you are disposing of.   

       Also, as the Nature article mentioned, it would take enormous energy and mass of lead to do this. Probably enough to build Arthur C. Clarke's space elevator to send your wastes (and ships) into space.
sophocles, Oct 22 2003
  

       As [Sophocles] points out, it would take an enormous amount of energy to heat up all that iron. So why not use a ready-made Highway to Hell? Enclose the stuff in tungsten and drop it into a volcano. Even when the tungsten melts, the radioactive waste should carry on sinking since it's so much denser than the molten rock, so it wouldn't contaminate the surface.
spacemoggy, Apr 27 2004
  

       [tw], you sure you don't mean 'fascist?'
RayfordSteele, Apr 27 2004
  

       I oppose the idea on the basis that it's probably not a great idea to put A BIG HOLE TO THE CENTER OF OUR PLANET somewhere on the earth. Even volcanoes only tap down into the mantle of the earth. We'd have to fill the hole back up again and there aren't that many telemarketers to go around.
eyeguy, Apr 27 2004
  

       Wonderful idea [bung], at least for the heavy stuff. But isn't most nuclear waste less dense than molten rock? I thought it was mostly water.   

       (many thanks to [spacemoggy]'s profile page for leading me here)
Worldgineer, Aug 13 2004
  

       doesn't gravity and pressure increase towards the center of the earth? What is supposed to stop molten lava from blowing back out? Would this be an instant volcano?   

       Sorry, go fish
Around TUIT, Aug 14 2004
  

       [World] - this idea would be for the high level stuff. Spent fuel rods, mostly. I agree that a volcano could be used, though I worry about lava currents pushing the stuff back up and out.   

       I must say I am very happy that this humble idea made it onto [spacemoggy]'s page.
bungston, Aug 14 2004
  

       [Around TUIT], you didn't read the referenced article. Below a certain depth the rock starts collapsing in on top of the "plug" as it descends, preventing lava from spewing out in an instant volcano.   

       Also, gravity doesn't increase at the center of the Earth, it decreases. I'll let that one slide as a mistake in grammar, though.
5th Earth, Aug 15 2004
  

       Dang! that killed my Yule Montain Time Capsule idea!   

       Croissant for bungston (sorry I didn't pay attention, I had flour in my eyes)   

       And 5th Earth I owe you at least half of a croissant! Thanks for pointing that out. Sorry, still "new" I guess.
Around TUIT, Aug 15 2004
  

       What happens if the plug is inserted at the bottom of the ocean...? Does the sea water get in and cool the molten rock enough to create "A BIG HOLE TO THE CENTRE OF OUR PLANET!" as [eyeguy] would say...   

       I figure that would be great cause if someone else did the same thing on the other side there would be a tunnel straight through the earth...! Now thats got to be useful for something and [bungston] I am sure there are better uses than stuffing your rubbish down there...
madness, Nov 25 2004
  

       Sigh, In the absence of the page on "Renewable Nuclear Energy"...   

       I would like to point out that the fissile material is put to better use near a geothermal field --- rather than in the core itself. Perhaps I should re-propose the idea of seeding a geothermal field...??   

       And by the way, it is already possible to drill through the earths crust to expose the mantle. The mantle itself is soft not liquid and the boundry is clearly not going to be abrupt....
madness, Apr 23 2008
  

       [marked-for-tagline]harnessing the sound energy of the mating calls of a giant cage of randy monkeys!
Voice, Apr 24 2008
  
      
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