Storing Nuclear Waste on an Asteroid or the Moon

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mr_mark

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Ok, this is out of left field but here goes. A solution, in the future, for storing Earth bound reactors nuclear waste, maybe store it on an asteroid, the moon or a space barge. You could eventually launch the space barge toward the sun. You could do the same thing with an asteroid but it would take alot more to change it's course. You could also store nuclear waste on the moon, but I don't want the moon to be a dumping ground. Better to keep the moon for colonization.
 
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voyager4d

Guest
Properly not the most cost effective and save way to get rid of nuclear waste.
 
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annodomini2

Guest
Pointless.

The 'waste' nuclear rods coming from most active reactors are still mostly Urainium bout 70-90%.

Reprocessing recovers a large amount of this Urainium for reuse.

Secondly the radioactive by products, why not use them in some form of land based RTG. What no waste you say, yup more energy.

So it would become What nuclear waste?
 
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mj1

Guest
This idea has occurred to me also, but let's discuss how it would be done cost effectively and safely. For example, you'd have to have a practically crash proof way to launch the atomic waste. You certainly don't want a rocket filled with atomic waste exploding during its ascent and spreading radioactive debris over a wide area. Secondly, the expense per pound to lift this material would have to make it feasible to do so. Today's rockets are very expensive per pound to launch materials into space, although the cost of not having to store atomic waste could mitigate this somewhat.

The technology to do this is not there yet, but I am glad that we are talking about it. I could see something like this being part of a solution to this problem down the road.
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
If i remember correctly, there are no serious technical issues with reprocessing of the nuclear fuel, just an annoying fact, that those products add to nuclear weapon stockpiles. I think, that's why they are mostly stored, just in case ..
I don't remember details though ...

Nuclear experiments on the Moon would be probably far enough from the people to not endanger so many ..
 
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bdewoody

Guest
Certain elements of the population get very agitated even when NASA launches a probe or satellite with a small nuclear power pack. I live fairly close to Cape Canaveral and I have to admit I wouldn't be very comfortable knowing they were preparing to launch several tons of nuclear waste into space.

Way back the SciFi series Space 1999 had a nuclear waste dump on the far side of the moon. It went critical and ended up launching the moon on it's own cosmic journey.

Maybe if we ever discover/invent some form of anti-gravity then the really bad nuclear waste can be safely deposited into space and eventually toward the sun. Until then I believe Yucca Mountain is the safest place to store the USA's nuclear waste.
 
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js117

Guest
I agree with bdewoody Yucca Mountain is the safest place to store the USA's nuclear waste,but under this administration it will not happen, that has been put on hold. On the NEWS today.

Putting the Nuclear waste on a asteroid is not a good idea. This asteroid might come back and hit earth.

If it were safe enought to put nuclear waste in space then launch it into the sun as bdewoody said and let it take care of it.
This is what they did in SciFi Movie Earth II when they wanted to get rid of a nuclear missile platform in orbit.
 
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rcsplinters

Guest
Actually, I think the reason this doesn't get a lot more serious consideration is the risk involved with riding uphill, though expense is definitely an issue. Why bother with the moon or an asteriod, just launch it into the sun. However, the environmental impacts of an exploded booster could be catastrophic. Just remember all the environmental whining about a couple of pounds of plutonium on Cassini.
 
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halman

Guest
"Drop it into the Sun" people are always saying. Right. You would have to completely cancel the Earth's orbital velocity, some 66,000 miles per hour, to be able to 'drop something into the Sun.'

Nuclear waste must be managed actively until we can figure out how to dispose of it permanently. A fusion torch would probably do the trick, being hot enough to break down the atomic structure of matter. Just burying the stuff in the ground somewhere and forgetting about it would be criminal, because it will still be dangerous thousands of years later.

I object to building more nuclear power plants when the issue of waste has not been resolved.

Eventually, launch costs will be low enough, and reliability high enough, that we could get it off Earth. But we probably would be better off keeping it here, where we can keep an eye on it. Isolating it from the environment is an on-going process, because it will gradually destroy the container. (High level waste, that is. Low level waste can be buried above the water table, as long as it is in a non-porous form.)
 
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Couerl

Guest
halman":moxmhzto said:
Just burying the stuff in the ground somewhere and forgetting about it would be criminal, because it will still be dangerous thousands of years later.

I object to building more nuclear power plants when the issue of waste has not been resolved.
Well, I agree that launching it in to space and toward the sun is fairly silly, but the ground may actually be the best bet and ironically, yucca mtn., Nevada or whatever might be the worst place because it is so geologically stable and as you point out, the containers will eventually decay in thousands of years etc.. Current ideas proposed by the French (arguably ahead of us in that field since they use 70%+/- nuclear energy and we stopped developing it years ago) include burying the material in subduction zones where the plates will eventually be recycled in to the mantle anyway and that should (on paper anyway) do the trick. I think the avg. reactor produces about a box cars worth of waste annually and it is pretty nasty stuff. The good news is that the nastier the isotope, the shorter the half-life so that even a place like Chernobyl is recovering much quicker than anyone had previously imagined possible.. I'd walk in downtown Hiroshima any old day without worry, but might save Chernobyl for retirement. :lol:
 
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js117

Guest
EarthlingX":1yvebbs2 said:
You can't just launch it into Sun, it doesn't fall that way ..

Orbital Data for the Planets & Dwarf Planets

MESSENGER

And if you miss it, one more orbit, and many more ...

More explanation:

NASA : Rocket Index





and links, perhaps more useful ..
Relativity Calculator (forum)

Can you hurl nuclear waste to the sun? from Wiki.answer.com
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Can_you_hurl_ ... to_the_sun

Yes, we could launch nuclear waste into the Sun.
The problem with the concept is simple economics. It presently costs US$20 million to US$30 million to launch even a small payload of 1200 pounds (544 kg). NASA indicates an average cost of US$450 million to launch a Space Shuttle craft, with a payload capacity of 50,000 pounds (22,700 kg).

So with spacecraft we are talking about payloads of thousands of pounds, but with nuclear waste we are talking about millions of tons! If you consider only the highest level radioactive waste (HLW), the amount of HLW produced worldwide each year is approximately 53,000,000 pounds (24,000,000 kg); that's nearly 1100 Space Shuttle payloads each year, 3 Space Shuttles launched nearly every single day!

In addition to high level waste there is low level waste, intermediate level waste, transuranic waste, along with huge amounts of contaminated soil and water. There is not only the waste that we are now producing, but we have an accumulation of nuclear waste from the past 60 years. It is unlikely that we could ever come up with enough fuel to launch all of our nuclear waste into space with the technology we now have. Future developments in applied physics might make it possible to do this with at least part of our most problematic wastes.
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
Can you hurl nuclear waste to the sun? from Wiki.answer.com
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Can_you_hurl_ ... to_the_sun

Yes, we could launch nuclear waste into the Sun.
The problem with the concept is simple economics. It presently costs US$20 million to US$30 million to launch even a small payload of 1200 pounds (544 kg). NASA indicates an average cost of US$450 million to launch a Space Shuttle craft, with a payload capacity of 50,000 pounds (22,700 kg).
It can be done, of course, it just doesn't make sense, that was kinda my point, i apologize for not being more exact, my fault.

There are ways to make nuclear energy relatively safe, in short, if anyone feels like buying me Hyperion Power Module, i would be more than glad to have it under my kitchen or bedroom ;)

But since that is not a topic ..
 
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kevinarth

Guest
Why...so future generations can trip over it like we on Earth do now? I thought 90% of the problem with sending it into space was getting it safely out of our gravity well. Once you've done that, why don't you just launch it toward the sun and incinerate it?
 
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pmn1

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bdewoody":1ottfeba said:
Way back the SciFi series Space 1999 had a nuclear waste dump on the far side of the moon. It went critical and ended up launching the moon on it's own cosmic journey.
At faster than light speeds considering they visited a new planet every week :D
 
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kelvinzero

Guest
Firstly I will agree it is almost certainly not necessary. Fossils demonstrate that parts of the earth can be stable for millions of years.

Possibly launching nuclear waste could be plausible with some sort of mass driver? Each capsule could be a fairly solid object not likely to ablate into many particles even if something went catastrophically wrong.

Such mass drivers from earth have often been discussed but they have too high g-forces for humans and fragile technology, and would need to launch a vast tonnage to be cost effective, so they might only be suitable for this.

If so, the target should certainly be the moon and not the sun. Easier, perfectly safe (if any catastrophe could knock it home again then we have bigger problems) and yet still accessible.

We should not actually tryto permanently dispose of nuclear waste. Apparently it is a great source for certain fantastically rare elements. Right now some have uses and many dont, but maybe in the future we could greatly regret losing them.

In this case perhaps instead of asking how to dispose of nuclear waste we should consider this under the problem of how we export useful materials to the moon in large quantities.
 
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DrDonZi

Guest
Storing nuclear wastes on the moon or an asteroid is an oxymoronic. Just put it onto a NASA rocket and send all nuclear wastes into interstellar space like Voyager I & II. Oh, I forgot! Hussein Obama is gutting NASA. Sorry! Signed: Relativity Calculator, www.relativitycalculator.com
 
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halman

Guest
kevinarth":3hisr09c said:
Why...so future generations can trip over it like we on Earth do now? I thought 90% of the problem with sending it into space was getting it safely out of our gravity well. Once you've done that, why don't you just launch it toward the sun and incinerate it?
If you would read the thread from the beginning, the reason why we aren't going to do that is explained. But I will repeat myself for your benefit. To drop something into the Sun means canceling entirely the orbital velocity of the Earth, which is about 60,000 miles per hour. A Saturn 5 rocket would probably just be able to drop the Command Module into the Sun, but I am not sure.

Oh, and welcome to the Space.com discussion boards!
 
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xavalex

Guest
Bill Gates just invested in the concept of 'Travelling Wave Reactors', that will use precisely the nuclear waste we think of launching into space. Who knows what we shall be able to do with this 'waste' in the future? Let's just keep it handy, in Yucca mountains or similar safe places.
 
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Galacticexplorer

Guest
Are you crazy? Of course not.If anything send it to the sun to be incinerated.Even that though did you think what could happen if something went wrong during launch?
 
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StarRider1701

Guest
kelvinzero":3qy3x43t said:
Possibly launching nuclear waste could be plausible with some sort of mass driver? Each capsule could be a fairly solid object not likely to ablate into many particles even if something went catastrophically wrong.

Such mass drivers from earth have often been discussed but they have too high g-forces for humans and fragile technology, and would need to launch a vast tonnage to be cost effective, so they might only be suitable for this.

If so, the target should certainly be the moon and not the sun. Easier, perfectly safe (if any catastrophe could knock it home again then we have bigger problems) and yet still accessible.
I agree with the mass driver concept. True it will not be good for getting humans into space. But at lower power a mass driver could put equipment, supplies, consumables, building materials, etc into orbit with humans and sensitive cargo going up in rockets. Granted, the up front costs would be high, but over time it would save us considerable over continuing to use rockets for everything.

Then crank up the power and I see no reason why we cannot send the stuff that is truly unusable waste into the sun. I would rather send it to the sun than contaminate the moon with the stuff. Our luck, the place we pick now for the lunar waste dump would end up having some future importance, then we'd have to go clean it up. :roll: :lol: :lol:
 
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AirSpaceMan

Guest
If we really want to get rid of it and can afford to chuck it off-world - toss it into the sun and be done with it. No fuss, no muss and its gets burnt beyond a crisp. Storing it just kicks the can further down the road. Now, putting on the imagination cap (no not the aluminum foil hat) we would need a rail gun rather than a rocket that could go boom. The reality of it is, we're stuck with it here on terra firma - the cost per pound to destroy it by sending into the sun is more than what we gave GM, Chrysler and AIG all together! We don't have any more - the Chinese are calling in the lines of credit they gave us.

On a lighter note - for those who suggest storing on the moon - Didn't you watch Space 1999 with Martin Landau and Barbara Bain?! The result was not pretty - no more moonlit nights, tides, etc. :)
 
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Antwerpo

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This can't be a serious question? Who comes up with such idea's? This must be the most stupid idea formulated ever!
 
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najab

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Antwerpo":2tpblr0e said:
This can't be a serious question? Who comes up with such idea's? This must be the most stupid idea formulated ever!
There's a difference between stupid and infeasible.
 
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roj2003

Guest
I think you have all seen/read/heard about the current political financial support for space exploration, never mind space commercialization for nuclear waste disposal.

With current payloads of of around a very few tonnes, radioactive waste (the by-now mega-tonnes) will never get off the ground. It is not impossible to plan isolation of waste in really deep locations and completely seal shafts so there is no accidental access even in a thousand or ten thousand more years, by which time radioactivity levels are trivial.

What is really needed is a lobotomizing of 'NIMBY' thinking in the political arena and solid/assured scientific study of all existing waste sites, their failures and successes, and then getting on with the job of disposal by 'best practical means'.

With previous lack of foresight every country has other waste mountains (mining/city waste/human waste ) from earlier endeavours yet we clean-up and get on with living. With such examples it is not impossible to plan future safety on a much better basis than previously.
roj
 
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