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Nuclear ‘Waste’ Is Worth More Than Its Weight In Gold

The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that “Fast neutron reactors, which use neutrons that are not slowed by a moderator such as water to sustain the fission chain reaction … when operated in a fully closed fuel cycle, in which nuclear fuel is recycled and reused, have the potential to extract 60 to 70 times more energy from the same amount of natural uranium than thermal reactors.”

This means that the “waste” that alarmists have been braying about for the last 50 years can produce 60 to 70 times more energy than the original fuel! But that was already known before Jimmy Carter was President. So why don’t we have dozens or even hundreds of these fast reactors by now?

“When using fast nuclear reactors in a closed fuel cycle, 1 kilogram of nuclear waste can be recycled multiple times until all the uranium is used and the actinides—which remain radioactive for thousands of years—are burned up. What then remains is about 30 grams of waste that will be radioactive for 200 to 300 years,” said Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy. One thousand grams in, generating 60 to 70 times the normal thermal reactor’s output, and 30 grams out—that’s 97% use of the spent fuel.

There are, however, only three sane countries in the world smart enough, or courageous enough, to have actually built the fast reactor. Russia has three of these, India and China each have one; the rest have things “in the works.” Let’s hope they don’t make half-fast reactors (pun intended)!