Shooting nuclear waste into the sun? ‘Space disposal’ considered by Obama commission

Published: May 1st, 2013 at 2:28 pm ET


Title: What to do with Radioactive Waste
Source: Environmental News Network
Author: Andy Soos
Date: April 26, 2013

Nuclear power plants do have a waste management problem because radioactivity takes a long time to dissipate and turn the radioactive waste into just a non-hazardous waste. […] A new draft nuclear waste management bill released today by four U.S. senators focuses on establishing interim and permanent waste repositories […] The senators—Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)—based their draft on President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

[…] Several techniques have been proposed for handling: long term above ground storage, geologic below ground storage, space disposal, and transmutation into less harmful radioactive materials. […]

Title: Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-level Radioactive Waste
Source: ENVIRON International Corporation
Author: Chris Whipple, Ph.D
Date: September 10, 2010

This material was prepared at the request of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (“the BRC”).

Disposal by shooting the wastes into deep space or the sun

Cost and the risk of an accident during launch has kept space disposal from being taken seriously. With the current cost of putting objects in orbit at around $10,000 per pound, and given that the U.S. inventory of spent fuel and high-level waste is of the order of 100,000 metric tons, not including the heavy shielding that would be required, the costs with present technology would be prohibitive, even if the risks of radioactive wastes crashing back to earth could be managed somehow.

But if one wanted to dispose of only the very long-lived waste, e.g., technetium-99, cesium-135, iodine-129, and the long-lived actinides, then the amounts are much more manageable, of the order of a few million kilograms for all current U.S. wastes. […]

See also: [intlink id=”discovery-com-nuclear-reactors-to-power-mars-colonies-sadly-biggest-hurdle-for-space-fission-may-be-bad-press” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Published: May 1st, 2013 at 2:28 pm ET


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260 comments to Shooting nuclear waste into the sun? ‘Space disposal’ considered by Obama commission

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    PS..And who else speaks with knowledge of such things..
    Why..the Vatican…waiting to comfort the fearful.
    Waiting like ticks for a taste of blood.

  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

    If the only way to handle nuclear waste is impossible, why are the world's leaders making more and more nuclear waste?

    We know that radiation destroys cognitive faculties. Idiocity and insanity have met when governments cannot stop promoting and subsidizing nuclear energy.

  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

    Some info about displacement here:

    Space environment
    Protons, some ions, electrons,
    neutrons, gamma rays, X

    Softer spectrum
    Event driven

    occasional high fluxes
    over short periods.
    Solar radiation
    Dominant in quiet time
    Interferences from

    magnetic systems
    SE Upset
    Single Event Effects
    , Displacement
    Components, solar cells,
    detector parameters
    Spurious signals
    Detector overload
    Electrons ~< 10 MeV
    Protons ~< 10
    Trapped radiation
    Dose (Equivalent do

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      Space tourism to accelerate climate change
      Scientists predict that soot from commercial space flight will change global temperatures

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      “…Space scientists hypothesise that the increasing number of space debris can one day shatter a big spacecraft into many small pieces and can trigger a chain reaction – a gradually propagating series of collisions which can progress to centuries, extending disorder in space environment. Scientists have increased their efforts in making the spacecrafts capable enough to face such a situation. Space stations are now provided with radars and other optical monitoring devices, which can identify the location and size of space debris.
      “Accumulation of pollutants and debris in space is an international problem, the solution of which needs international cooperation and co-ordination….”

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      “…The spacecraft, fitted with a 15-inch-thick heat shield to protect it from the intense heat and radiation, will orbit at around 20 million miles from the Sun's surface – around two thirds of the distance between the Sun and Mercury, the closest planet….”

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      THEMIS observations of extreme magnetopause
      motion caused by a hot flow anomaly

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      Displacement Damage
      “Displacement damage (DD) is the result of nuclear interactions, typically scattering, which cause semiconductor defects. Displacement damage is less important than single event effects or total dose effects but over time results in permanent device failure. Displacement damage is due cumulative long-term non-ionizing damage from protons, electrons and neutrons. The non-ionizing energy loss (NIEL) of the incident particle as ti passes through the semiconductor is proportional to the degradation of the device’s electrical parameters. Because the first concern for DD in ICs was with neutrons from a nuclear weapon, the measure for DD became the MeV equivalent neutron fluence and the parameter is n/cm2. The minimum value for radiation tolerance is 1012 n/cm2 and the minimum value for radiation hardness is 1014 n/cm2. This value is typically not specified for radiation tolerance and is not a key parameter for space worthiness.

      Single Event Effects
      “Single event latch-up and single event upset are two of several failures which are classified as single event effects (SEEs). A single event effect is defined as any measurable effect in a circuit due to an ion strike. This means high energy protons, neutrons, heavy ions or alpha particles. These effectes include (but are not limited to) SEUs, SELs, Single Hard Errors (SHEs), Single Event Burnouts (SEBs), Single Event Gate Ruptures SEGRs, and Single Event Dielectric Ruptures (SEDRs).

      • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

        Other SEEs include Single Event Transients (SETs) and Single Event Functional Interrupts (SEFI). Different devices and test houses provide numbers for a subset of these effects. The most widely used are the SEUs and SELs. These tend to determine what is acceptable for space and so will be covered here.

        Single Event Latch-up
        “An SEL is a failure caused by an induced high current state due to an ion strike. This is caused by the radiation triggering parasitic transistors, leading to an internal short circuit that is self-perpetuating. Again, an SEL may or may not cause permanent device damage but as a minimum requires device power down. For radiation hardness and radiation tolerance, the acceptable number of SELs is zero. The acceptance level is based on exceeding an energy transfer level. The Linear Energy Transfer (LET) is a measure of the energy deposited per unit length as a energetic particle travels through a material. The common LET unit is MeV- cm2/mg of material. The threshold for radiation hardness is 120 MeV- cm2/mg . The threshold for radiation tolerant is 40 MeV- cm2/mg . The maximum value to demonstrate SEL immunity is 125 MeV- cm2/mg since there is essentially no particle in the galactic cosmic ray spectrum above this number. Some space based applications have considered 38.5 MeV- cm2/mg as the minimum while others use 58 MeV- cm2/mg as their lowest space acceptable value.

      • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

        Single Event Upset
        “SEU is caused by the charge deposited by an ion being collected on a critical node of a memory cell and changing the memory state from a 1 to a 0 or visa versa (bit flip). Again, the LET characterizes the amount of charge deposited by an ion. If the goal, like for SEL, is zero SEUs then the LET is used to determine the threshold at which SEUs begin to occur. In this case, radiation tolerance is a minimum of 40 MeV-cm2/mg and radiation hardness is a minimum of 80 MeV-cm2/mg . More commonly, SEU is measured in errors per bit day (err/b-d). In this case, radiation tolerance has a maximum associated with memories with Error Detection And Correction (EDAC) circuits of 10-6 err/b-d. Radiation tolerance without EDAC has a maximum of 10-8 err/b-d. Radiation hardness has a maximum of 10-10 err/b-d. When evaluated versus non-memory devices a Failure In Time (FIT) is often used where 1 FIT is 1 device failure in 1 billion hours. Sometimes a cross section is calculated and provided as a measure for SEEs. Cross section (sigma) is the device SEE response to ionizing radiation. For an experimental test for a specific LET, sigma = #errors/(ion fluence). The units for cross section are cm2per device or per bit. Asymptotic or saturation cross section (sigmasat) is the value that the cross section approaches as LET gets very large.

      • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

        The asymptotic cross section is often specified for SEUs. Once the cross section data is known, errors/bit day can be calculated for a given radiation environment. A 90% worst case geosynchronous earth orbit, quiet space environment is typically the default environment for the SEU rate calculation when none is specified….”

        "Radiation Test Results of the Virtex FPGA and ZBT SRAM for Space Based Reconfigurable Computing" MAPLD 1999 Paper C2. Earl Fuller and Paul Caffrey, Los Alamos National Laboratory space_environment_and_design_gsfc_june2001/pdf/D_SEU.pdf


          curious anne, to why you're posting this information. Those who work in the electronics industry have long known that convention semiconductor junctions are susceptible to rad-induced error conditions. Do you foresee this as an impediment to going into space?

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar PraisingJesus

            It is more difficult to get into space without the spacecraft's electronics getting fried. The more nuclear technology used, the more there is radiation in the Van Allen belts, or even a new Van Allen belt and the greater chance all that radiation will cause the spacecrafts to fail and crash to earth with all the radiation and nuclear waste aboard.

  • Radioactive Technetium 99m Properties, Medical Use Negative Side Effects, Dangers, Half Life Is 6 – 60 Hours, Then Decays Into Radioactive Techetium 99, With Half Life Of 200,000 Years