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GE Hitachi Plans to Turn Nuclear Waste into Fuel
Posted By Ariel Schwartz On February 18, 2010 @ 7:40 pm In Renewable Energy | 7 Comments
President Obama’s recent announcement that the U.S. government will offer $8 billion in federal loan guarantees  for the first new nuclear plant in the country in 30 years upset clean energy advocates for a number of reasons. One of the biggest problems: all that radioactive waste . Now GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy , one of the world’s biggest suppliers of nuclear reactors, claims that it can safely turn nuclear waste into fuel. Goodbye, Yucca Mountain .
GE’s process separates nuclear  waste into three streams: waste material that needs to be stored underground for a few hundred years (vs. thousands of years for standard nuclear waste), uranium that can be used in deuterium uranium reactors, and a mixture of transuranic elements (plutonium and neptunium) that can be used as fuel in nuclear reactors that use molten sodium as a coolant.
In the past, the idea of repurposing nuclear waste into fuel has been criticized because of the potential for terrorists to steal the pure plutonium produced as part of the process and use it for nuclear weapons. But GE Hitachi’s fuel is difficult to steal because the plutonium isn’t separated from other elements, making it difficult to detect.
The fuel is far from perfect — deuterium uranium reactors are only found in Canada and molten sodium-cooled reactors  haven’t yet been approved in the U.S. — but if the Obama administration is serious about bringing even more nuclear power plants into the world, it might want to look into GE Hitachi ‘s process.
+ GE Energy 
Via Physorg 
Lead Photo by tnarik 
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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/ge-hitachi-plan-to-turn-nuclear-waste-into-fuel/
URLs in this post:
 $8 billion in federal loan guarantees: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/02/17/obama-announces-8-billion-in-loan-guarantees-for-nuclear-power/
 radioactive waste: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/09/22/e-coli-cleans-up-nuclear-waste-cheaply-efficiently/
 GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy: http://www.ge-energy.com/prod_serv/products/nuclear_energy/en/index.htm
 Yucca Mountain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain
 nuclear: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/06/01/worlds-largest-laser-to-attempt-nuclear-fusion/
 molten sodium-cooled reactors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_reactor
 Physorg: http://www.physorg.com/news185694782.html
 tnarik: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tnarik/177231248/
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