A Fission-Fusion Fusion
Could a marriage of fusion and fission reactors save both technologies?
by william sweet
spectrum.ieee.org Jan 2013 - All rights reserved
"What if you could help solve the nuclear waste problem and at the same time give fusion research a new raison d’être? A trio of physicists at the University of Texas at Austin have dreamed up a trick to pair nuclear fusion and fission in a way they think could open more promising futures for both technologies. Their idea is to surround a compact, circular tokamak fusion reac- tor they have devised with a ring containing the most noxious waste products from nuclear power plants. Neutrons emanating from the fusion reactor would break down long-lived transuranic radioactive wastes from spent fuel and turn them into much shorter-lived ele- ments. The net effect would be to convert high-level radioactive wastes containing elements like americium and curium, which need to be stored safely for 100 000 years or more—a problem that has derailed big storage projects like Yucca Mountain—into fission products, such as barium, that fully decay in hundreds of years. .... The Texas team of researchers—Swadesh Mahajan, Mike Kotschenreuther, and Prashant Valanju—came up with the idea ......" (read the complete article here)