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I think this would be a great thing to not do.

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radioactive storage

electrical lemonaid from radioactive lemons
  [vote for,

Concentrated nuclear waste could be used in thermoelectric generators to produce electrical power.

Thermoelectric generators use a temperature difference to produce electric current. RTG's or radioisotope thermoelectric generators are used now to power space probes and remote sensors.

Why not use nuclear waste to generate power instead of paying lots of money to bury it?

talldave, Jun 20 2003


       As much power as *possible/economically feasible* has been extracted before it becomes waste|ful.
thumbwax, Jun 21 2003

       Are you sure?   

       I don't have a complete understanding, but I thought it was an issue of certain fission products slowing the reaction rate by absorbing neutrons, that it's those elements that make up bulk of the radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.   

       I'm no expert, so I very well may be wrong.   

       I always wonder how many things are done a certain way because that's the way to do them really well and what things are done a certain way because of other constraints (tradition, politics, lack of imagination or whatever).
talldave, Jun 21 2003

       Which reactor was it that was run on radioactive lemons? Didn't they squeeze every last drop of energy from those things before they buried them?
Cedar Park, Jun 21 2003

       Obviously they don't, because the reactors need ACTIVE cooling for years after decommissioning, even with the fuel rods out! The biggest prob. in using nuclear materials domestically is that you don't want them getting into the hands of terrorists.   

       The main problem with doing anything with this, even if it is possible, is the political angle: The nuclear industry is huge and grew out of the military, and simply aren't interested in small applications, there's no big money in it for them, and it's big money that they're used to.
RusNash, Jun 21 2003

       Hmmm, I don't think this would work for low and intermediate level wastes, they just don't emit much heat. France and Britain use Vitrification technology to turn used fuel and reactor by products (High LW) in to molten glass which is then poured in to big Stainless Steel Vessels. These do emit significant amounts of heat.   

       Currently the US is building a large undergorund facility to store this waste (though i don't know if they vitrify). The complex is probably going to use natural convection to cool the waste (large chambers for the air to cool at the top of the store). It would probably be easiest to use the draught to turn fans in the connecting tunnels to generate power.   

       Finally you don't really want to get close to the waste to attach the devices, it doesn't make much sense to give someone a radioactive dose to generate a few watts of power. But saying that i don't exactly how thermoelectric generators really work, how close do you have to get? Also, i suppose they could be attached remotely, but then you get expensive (robots etc).   

       Still, good concept to make use of the heat. Gets my vote.
yorkshireryan, Sep 01 2003

       //keep earth, the unique, #1 place in the universe clean and pretty// Keep it pretty? After all the crap that we've done to it, there's a pretty long clean-up operation to do.
AbsintheWithoutLeave, Jan 18 2006


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