350,000 tons of nuclear waste is stored worldwide under changing circumstances. A new type of reactor full of piping hot salt must clean up a large part of this waste.
Chinese scientists are working on a new type of reactor, in which the chemical processes proceed in a 700-degree hot slurry of molten salt.
The intention is that this nuclear reactor will run on the new miracle material thorium, which is common in nature and much more efficient than the fuel that nuclear power plants have used to date mainly: uranium.
But the power stations can also be fired with nuclear waste.
Radioactive material is reused
In a conventional nuclear power plant, no more than 6.5 percent of the fissionable uranium is used in the fuel rods. The rest must be stored for 100,000 years as a core sheet.
In the new molten salt reactors, however, the radioactive material in the fuel rods is fully utilized.
Nuclear waste is dissolved in hot salt
The nuclear waste is simply dissolved in the piping hot salt slurry, which initiates chemical processes and releases heat energy, just like in a normal nuclear power plant.
For example, the remaining 93.5 percent fissile uranium can be converted into electricity via a heat exchanger, which brings water to the boil with the heat of the salt and drives a turbine.
Storage remains necessary
However, molten salt plants do not offer a complete solution to the problem of nuclear waste. No less than 350,000 tons are stored worldwide, and if all of that has to be cleaned up by molten salt reactors, one has to be opened every day for 93 years.
So nuclear waste depots are still needed that will remain intact for 100,000 years.