Thursday, 21 February 2013

Nuclear Power from Uranium Waste

Nuclear Power from Uranium Waste: 'Bill Gates, of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) fame, has a storied history of philanthropy and socially conscious endeavors. Now, he is backing (and chairing) Washington-based TerraPower, a startup that aims to do no less than transform nuclear waste into nuclear fuel, generating clean electricity.
Depleted uranium is a standard by-product of conventional water-cooled nuclear reactors. TerraPower hopes to use what it calls the traveling wave reactor (TWR) to achieve this transformation of nuclear waste into energy.
As the company’s website explains, a TWR reactor can run for long periods solely on depleted uranium, or U-238. U-238 is normally produced when enriched uranium, U-235, separates from natural uranium during the nuclear power generation process.
Presently, U-235 is the fuel of choice for most light water nuclear reactors, while the U-238 generated during the process is discarded. Since conventional reactors cannot make much use of U-238—it’s too weak—TerraPower can step in to utilize this for its own energy generation, thus cutting down radically on the amount of nuclear waste.
The upshot of all this is that a TWR reactor can effectively harvest nearly 50 times more energy per pound of mined uranium compared to standard light water reactors.
The implications are obvious and vast. Such a reactor, because it works slowly and burns more efficiently, can go for 40 years without refueling (bear in mind that today’s nuclear reactors require refueling every two years or so)."

No comments:

Post a Comment