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    • Those wave reactors and using the unused material so readily available, in such less polluting ways seem at the first glance the perfect solution. But the more time passes, the more seeing aspects of life such as this reinforces my belief that to adopt anything progressive and benefic for the world, as of today in its majority, it could only be happening when those most powerful 0.1% at the top of the human society of today, will really start to care. And perhaps also a radical shift and change on how the global world's society operates, as far as goals and vision.

    • I know there is a mood right now that billionaires shouldn’t exist, but I believe there are good ones. I want to believe the biggest and best became rich not through ill-gotten gains but by creating legit companies like Tesla.

      Anyway, I think Gates is a good one and does care and has funded a long-term risky bet on TerraPower no one else would. I’m hoping they can pull it off.

    • Here are my notes and highlight’s from Chris’ video:

      - Less than 1% of the uranium mined is usable in existing nuclear power plants.

      - Wave reactors can run on this unused uranium. As a result, a nuclear fuel supply that could power the United States for over 1,000 years has already been dug up.

      - Bill Gates’ wave reactors convert the uranium into usable plutonium over several phases or “waves.”

      - Gates’ reactors also use molton salt reactor technology so there is less risk of a meltdown: unfortunately, they kinda glossed over why this is true.

      - The technology has not been field tested yet.  It has been “proven” over thousands of simulations in a super computer.

      Gates’ had hoped to pilot a reactor in China but had to cancel it this past June:

      TerraPower, the company I started 10 years ago, uses an approach called a traveling wave reactor that is safe, prevents proliferation, and produces very little waste. We had hoped to build a pilot project in China, but recent policy changes here in the U.S. have made that unlikely. We may be able to build it in the United States if the funding and regulatory changes that I mentioned earlier happen.

      - Bill Gates, December 2018


      Source for the above quote:

    • Yeah, they were light on the molten salt explanation. I think the simplest explanation comes from MIT, but since they require registration, I'll quote the key parts:

      Producing zero carbon, they use a radioactive solution that blends nuclear fuel with a liquid salt. They can run on uranium but are also ideally suited for thorium, an alternative nuclear fuel that is cleaner, safer, and more abundant than uranium.

      Molten-salt reactors also offer inherent safety advantages: because the fuel is liquid, it expands when heated, thus slowing the rate of nuclear reactions and making the reactor self-governing.  And they’re built like bathtubs, with a drain in the bottom that’s blocked by a “freeze plug.” If anything goes wrong, the freeze plug melts and the reactor core drains into a shielded underground container. They can operate as producers of thermal power or as “burner” reactors that consume nuclear waste from conventional reactors.

      Essentially, molten-salt reactors could solve the two problems that have bedeviled the nuclear power industry: safety and waste.

    • I used to be a regular listener to 99% Invisible, so I appreciate the article share. Their current episode is on “Where does your recycling go?”

      I think the inherent problem with Ray Cats that turn colors in the presence of dangerous levels of radiation is that most animals who can change colors need to be alive to do so.

      Perhaps a better early warning system for our descendants would be to breed a race of “ray cockroaches.”

    • I think the inherent problem with Ray Cats that turn colors in the presence of dangerous levels of radiation is that most animals who can change colors need to be alive to do so.

      I guess that the most dangerous type of nuclear waste in a post-apocalyptic setting is the stuff that doesn't kill immediately, but over longer periods of time.

      Consider a future where humanity exists in a state comparable to medieval or earlier times - and assume that some random explorer happens to find a cave with endless rows of weird, yellow barrels in it.

      If that explorer opens one of the barrels and then dies within the next few hours due to radiation poisoning, before he can even return to his village and tell others about it, problem solved.

      On the other hand, if he doesn't, but instead manages to bring back some strange item that is warm to the touch to the village's alchemist, who decides that it is a good idea to throw it into the village's water supply - then that is a much bigger problem.

      Ray cats might be dead in scenario 1, but could do some good in scenario 2. :)

    • The best way to get to the truth of the dangers would be to require that the wastes be buried in the back yards of the largest investors in nuclear power.

    • TerraPower, a next-gen reactor that generates very little waste

      I tried finding out what exactly the eventual waste consists of, but couldn't. Some articles state that the waste product can be "recycled without the need for chemical separation", but surely the end product must be different from what has been put into it? Everything else would make the inventor of thermodynamics spin in his grave (pun intended ;)).

      So, by running this type of reactor, would we eventually end up with all of the world's Uranium turned into slowly decaying Plutonium-239, or is there anything else going on? If our waste is Plutonium instead of something else, would that solve anything?

    • The best way to get to the truth of the dangers would be to require that the wastes be buried in the back yards of the largest investors in nuclear power.

      In the largest city in my state, the chief of police is required to live within the city limits.  The logic behind this law is that a police chief whose children and spouse live in the city is going to care more about reducing urban crime than someone who lives in the suburbs.

      I think aligning common interests would be useful in a number of areas: landfills, chemical plants, coal mines and nuclear storage facilities.  Require the COO and CFO to live in the same town: the CFO will be less inclined to cut costs to make the quarterly numbers if it means putting their health and their loved ones’ at risk.

    • How much nuclear waste is left over after it’s burned by a “traveling wave” reactor?

      Here’s what I was able to find out from multiple videos produced by TerraPower, Bill Gates next generation wave reactor company:

      In 60 years, nuclear power has generated a total of 70,000 tons of used fuel. Coal plants generate that amount of waste in one hour.

      Only 5% of the fuel has been spent in used fuel rods.

      After 30 years in storage, the fuel rods decay into uranium and plutonium that are not very radioactive and could be safely held in your hand.

      The Wave Reactor can safely burn this low level radioactive material.

      The waste from nuclear power is different from the nuclear sludge left over from nuclear weapons production, such as at the Hanford Site in Washington State.

      Commercial nuclear waste is solid—it can’t leak the way liquid waste does.  It cannot be used to make weapons; not even a dirty bomb.

    • Nice work chasing that down. I knew very little of that.

      I sometimes wonder why some things terrify us. Is it because they happen so infrequently?

      For example, I sometimes do the Escape From Alcatraz swim. It’s an organized event with 700 swimmers. It terrifies my friends when they find out about it. They ask, aren’t you afraid of how dangerous that is? Sharks! Dangerous tides.

      I respond that I am concerned. There has never been a shark attack in the bay, nor anyone getting hurt in the swim, which has s regatta of lifeboats accompanying us. But you have to drive on the freeway to get there and that is dangerous.

      “Oh that. I’m not worried about that. It’s the sharks that terrify me.”

      I wonder if nuclear power is like those sharks.

    • I think it’s hard sometimes to put statistics into reality. If a family member died in an airplane crash, believing that cars are safer can “feel” correct.

      Of course, the argument for not swimming in shark-infested waters is that, well, you don’t have to.

      😉