Waste to resources?

Processing the liquid fuel/blanket of a fluoride reactor.
dezakin
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Waste to resources?

Post by dezakin » Jan 10, 2008 2:13 pm

One of the interesting things about fluid fuel reactors in general and molten salt regimes in particular is the partitioning of the waste. This partitioning turn a potential liability into a revenue stream for reactor operators, and I'd like to explore this idea further.

The first waste products are the gasseous fission products sparged out online continuously, krypton and xenon... and xenon has potential demand growth options and commands a good price. Not sure about krypton. I know xenon's longest lived isotope is about 36 days, so a holding period of several years should be sufficient before marketing this.

Then there are the noble metals. Ruthenium and rhodium command high prices and and are rather large components of the waste stream (6.3% an 1% respectively.) Its my understanding that the noble metals can be captured by sacrificial anodes to plate on. Unfortunately the half lives are up to 3 years, so we would have to have a longer holding period or laser isotope enrichment would have to be much cheaper. There are also traces of silver and palladium.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthesis_of_noble_metals

Then there's Cs-137 and Sr-90, both usable portable heat sources for thermoelectric generators in space and remote locations, which would be left behind in the distillation bath. How difficult it would be to separate these I dont know, but I imagine simply being in a fluid solution allready makes the problem easier.

What else could be recovered and how would you make an industry out of this? Would you envision an offsite processing plant for some of the recovery?

STG
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Post by STG » Jan 10, 2008 4:01 pm

I think the huge problem would be the purity (meaning almost no radioactive contaminants) the market would demand...But I think it is possible.

But its indeed true that waste can be cosidered as a resource, and I think it is much easier to do with LFR then with fuel rods. So this would be an environmental advantage, but I don't know if any operator would see this as an advantage...

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Charles Barton
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Waste?

Post by Charles Barton » Jan 11, 2008 6:38 am

There is a matter of language here. If you are talking about usable isotopes that are removed from a reactor, you are talking abut by-products not waste. Imposing the term by-product on the discussion makes the "problem of reactor waste" magically disappear.

Jim Baerg
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nuclear byproducts

Post by Jim Baerg » Jan 11, 2008 10:14 pm

I think Cs137 would be more valuable for irradiation sterilization of medical equipment & food processing, than use as a heat source.

In another thread there was discussion of what to do with trans-uranium isotopes produced in an MSR. I think the best thing is to separate out the Pu238 before it can absorb a neutron to become Pu239 & use it as a heat source. After a few decades the heat production will be reduced & the U234 from Pu238 decay can be put in an MSR to absorb a neutron & become U235 & then fission.

There are lots of places where a few kW or less of continuous power would be useful.

The tritium would also be useful in small power sources. Google on 'BetaBatt'.
Jim Baerg

STG
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Post by STG » Jan 12, 2008 7:28 am

Tritium is a nasty thing...

And it is foreseen to be placed under international safeguards, therefor fusion should come into place as soon as possible so we can use this tritium waste as a power source.

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Post by Gary » Jan 12, 2008 11:22 am

There is a substantial market for tritium in self-illuminating products: Emergency signs (http://www.betalight.com/index2.htm), runway lights, watches (http://www.tritiumh3watches.com/) rifle scopes and even key rings (http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.6830).

If only those watches were less expensive!

-Gary

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Kirk Sorensen
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Post by Kirk Sorensen » Jan 12, 2008 11:48 am

Gary wrote:There is a substantial market for tritium in self-illuminating products:


Good, because we'll probably be making a substantial amount of it in the fluoride reactor.

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Post by jaro » Jan 12, 2008 1:36 pm

Kirk Sorensen wrote:Good, because we'll probably be making a substantial amount of it in the fluoride reactor.

Errr... not if we avoid using Li & Be in the fuel salt, as I would prefer to do with the HWMSR :wink:

I say, let the ITER folks handle the tritium headaches :mrgreen:

.

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Kirk Sorensen
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Post by Kirk Sorensen » Jan 12, 2008 2:41 pm

jaro wrote:
Kirk Sorensen wrote:Good, because we'll probably be making a substantial amount of it in the fluoride reactor.

Errr... not if we avoid using Li & Be in the fuel salt, as I would prefer to do with the HWMSR :wink:


Best of luck with bismuth and tin. I'll be sticking with lithium and beryllium.

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Post by STG » Jan 12, 2008 3:42 pm

The Tritium market isn't that big, people operating PWR also separate tritium from the coolant and they don't find a market. The market is already saturated by CANDU reactors

Jim Baerg
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Tritium Market

Post by Jim Baerg » Jan 12, 2008 9:21 pm

The current demand for tritium may be small, but will the BetaBatt company create a much larger demand?

http://www.betabatt.com/
Jim Baerg

STG
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Post by STG » Jan 13, 2008 6:52 am

I don't think so...

They have to compete with fuel cell technolgy and current batteries. Furthermore it has the image of being a nuclear batterie, so it can not count on the support of the public which fuel cells enjoy.

Seriously if there is one huge market for tritium: fusion! So if this technology is introduced at almost the same stage as MSR, two problems can be solved. For fusion this means more stability in fuel supply and some fusion neutrons can be used for other means than breeding tritium, by this maybe creating more energy.

STG
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Post by STG » Jan 13, 2008 6:55 am

Maybe in the context of tritium, this article is also interesting:

http://www.princeton.edu/~globsec/publications/pdf/5_2kalinowski.pdf

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Kirk Sorensen
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Post by Kirk Sorensen » Jan 13, 2008 9:39 am

STG wrote:Seriously if there is one huge market for tritium: fusion!


**suppressing a chuckle**

Um, okay...

STG
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Post by STG » Jan 13, 2008 12:56 pm

Kirk Sorensen wrote:
STG wrote:Seriously if there is one huge market for tritium: fusion!


**suppressing a chuckle**

Um, okay...


Am I mistaken perhaps?

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