DailyDirt: Towards Safer Nuclear Energy
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
Nuclear energy has the obvious drawbacks of dealing with its waste (potentially for hundreds of years) and getting political support. But on the other hand, nuclear power can be more convenient as a power source compared to alternatives like solar or wind. Newer nuclear power plant designs are supposedly much safer than any of the current commercial reactors in operation, but there’s no operational history for power plants that haven’t actually been built. Here are just a few links on building safer nuclear reactors.
- Smaller, more efficient nuclear reactor designs promise to reduce nuclear waste significantly and become competitive with some fossil fuels for producing electricity at similar costs. However, the startup costs for a nuclear power plant are still much higher than power plants running on coal or natural gas. [url]
- Next generation nuclear reactors could be made from more radiation-tolerant metals that can withstand the effects of constant radiation. Nanotwinned metals retain their mechanical properties better than typical metals, but it might take some time to make these materials economical as building materials. [url]
- Thorium has been touted as a “wonder fuel” for next generation nuclear power, but it isn’t as resistant to being used in weapons as some folks might believe. Nuclear energy experts point out that *just* 1.6 tons of thorium metal can be used to produce enough uranium-233 (about 8kg) for a viable bomb in less than a year. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.