Spent nuclear fuel, while it doesn’t contribute any greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, is nevertheless a huge hazard to public health and safety, as it stays radioactive for many, many more generations than will benefit from the energy it produces. While most types of nuclear waste have a half-life of mere tens of thousands of years, Chlorine-36 stays radioactive for 300,000 years and neptunium-237 boasts a half-life of a whopping 2 million years. According to Engineering & Technology, nuclear waste is a pressing issue in Europe and especially in the UK. “Under European law, all countries that create radioactive waste are obliged to find their own disposal solutions – shipping nuclear waste is not generally permitted except in some legacy agreements. However, when the first countries charged into nuclear energy generation (or nuclear weapons research), disposal of the radioactive waste was not a major consideration. For several of those countries, like the UK, that is now around 70 years ago, and the waste has been ‘stored’ rather than disposed of. It remains a problem.” Nobel prize winner Gérard Mourou has suggested blasting nuclear waste with lasers to render it benign. And, believe it or not, there exists an even more fantastical potential solution to dealing with nuclear waste. Researchers from the UK’s University of Bristol “have invented a method to encapsulate nuclear waste within diamonds, which as a battery, can provide a clean energy supply lasting in some cases, thousands of years,” says Big Think. Diamonds are about to be a lot more than just a girl’s best friend. “The radiation is locked safely away inside the gemstone. All the while, it generates a small, steady stream of electricity. Nickel–63, an unstable isotope, was used in this first experiment. It created a battery with a half-life of a century.” This method would not only safely dispose of nuclear waste, but it would also create a new form of clean energy production with “no emissions, no moving parts, no maintenance, and zero concerns about safety” in a win-win of nearly unthinkable proportions.
Oil Price 7th May 2020 read more »