It’s true. Nuclear fission is a lucrative power source and nuclear reactions can be quite dangerous.
Nuclear fission is a lucrative power source in two ways:
- 1 kg of Uranium-235 is capable of producing 20 million kW-hours of energy, enough to power a 100-watt light bulb burning continuously for 25,000 years;
- Each reaction of deuterium and tritium (and in a fusion chain reaction, there are millions) produces helium-4, a neutron, and 17.6 MeV. Both are extremely powerful and extremely viable power sources.
Nuclear reactions can be dangerous because Uranium-235 is radioactive.
Radioactive means that an element can cause unexpected changes in things around it (cure cancer, cause cancer, etcetera) mostly on a cellular level. This in itself is dangerous. Also, splitting a nucleus by firing a neutron at it just sounds dangerous. The draw to radioactive elements is that the nuclei are naturally unstable and will naturally break down into more stable elements. This is why firing at the nucleus can split it; if the element were more stable, the strong nuclear force would be too strong. The most dangerous thing, though, is that fission and fusion require chain reactions to produce the massive power they do. The neutron is fired into a nucleus to split it which sends another neutron seeking another nucleus to split.
Therefore, any time you deal with breaking apart or fusing together a nucleus, it is a very dangerous endeavor. It requires intense heat, pressure, speed, and requires unstable radioactive elements. Besides, where are we going to stash all the uranium-235 isotopes that have a 10,000 year isotope?
I have a solution that will reconcile the two power sources and severely lessen, if not eliminate, the dangers and the storage problem. With no dangers, there is no hindrance to the power of the nucleus.
The solution is easy, but the physics may prove difficult.
Since fission is splitting the atom and fusion is fusing it back together just make it so the outputs of one become the inputs of another in a never-ending loop. It will be a closed loop until the uranium-235 needs to be replaced and there will be absolutely no waste product. For example, let’s say the uranium atom is split in a fission reactor into krypton and barium generating intense heat, some of this heat could be used in a fusion reactor to fuse the krypton and barium back into uranium generating more heat. This process would continue until all of the uranium is gone and a new canister needs to replace the old and depleted uranium. The process would still be dangerous, because the unimaginable massive amounts of heat energy would have to be monitored constantly and cooled continually but there would be no radioactive wastes.
The fission fusion loop would essentially be a dynamo generating enormous energies and we could start cleaning out the radioactive waste from all our storage facilities because we would have created a machine that essentially eats it. Nuclear waste would never have to be stored again because there would be no such thing.
What are your thoughts on using nuclear waste for a fission-fusion loop? What, in your opinion, are the pros and cons?