Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nuclear Glass Trouble


Reprocessing nuclear fuel is a great dream. You take the used fuel, chop it all up, add horrendous acids, and extract the plutonium. Thus the remaining noxious liquor is supposedly safer. But not really, since it is in liquid form. Aha! We fix that by putting it into glass slugs.

These glass bricks are now as good as the original ceramic fuel, they can never break down, and we could just heave them off the back of a truck, if we wanted to.

But reality gets in the way. The Japanese have found this to be difficult, with unstable furnaces, etc. And with such instability, what is the quality of the glass? Could we really just 'bury and forget'? Or will we find some industrious bacterium chewing away at it?

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