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Game Changing Technology

  1. moosey

    11,537 Posts.
    For some time now I have been saying that I thought it "MAY" be possible to user Laser Isotope Separation (LIS/Silex) to separate out only the desired radioactive Isotope using laser technology.

    I have tried many times to find references to back up what my assumptions were, there are plenty of references that say this might be possible,where they say similar to this-:

    In the future, laser enrichment techniques may be able to remove these isotopes

    but not many that say it CAN done without doubt?

    That was until now!
    Read this document!


    The future of nuclear energy and its ability to fulfill part of the world’s energy needs for centuries to come depend on a reliable input of nuclear fuel, either thorium or uranium. Obviously, the present nuclear fuel cycle is completely dependent on uranium.
    Future thorium cycles will also depend on 235U or fissile isotopes separated from used fuel to breed 232Th into fissile 233U.
    This letter report discusses several emerging areas of scientific understanding and technology development that will clarify and enable assured supplies of uranium and thorium well into the future.
    At the most fundamental level, the nuclear energy community needs to appreciate the origins of uranium and thorium and the processes of planetary accretion by which those materials have coalesced to form the earth and other planets.
    Secondly, the studies of geophysics and geochemistry are increasing understanding of the processes by which uranium and thorium are concentrated in various locations in the
    earth’s crust.
    Thirdly, the study of neutrinos and particularly geoneutrinos (neutrinos emitted by
    radioactive materials within the earth) has given an indication of the overall global inventories of uranium and thorium, though little indication for those materials’ locations.
    Crustal temperature measurements have also given hints of the vertical distribution of radioactive heat sources, primarily 238U and 232Th,within the continental crust.
    Finally, the evolving technologies for laser isotope separation are indicating methods for reducing the energy input to uranium enrichment but also for tailoring the isotopic vectors of
    fuels, burnable poisons and structural materials, thereby adding another tool for dealing with long-term waste management.

    The SILEX process was developed in Australia, beginning in 1988.
    In 2007 Silex Systems signed an exclusive agreement with General Electric for commercialization and licensing of the process in Wilmington, NC under the name Global Laser Enrichment (GLE).
    The present partners in GLE are GE, Hitachi and Cameco.
    On September 19, 2012 the NRC granted a permit for GLE to build a commercial plant which would enrich uranium to a maximum of 8 % 235U.
    GLE plans to build an initial 1MSWU/year module and to expand the plant in stages to 6 MSWU/year.

    The initial attraction for laser isotope separation is its lower (though proprietary) energy demand.
    There are, however, other capabilities of LIS that are not often mentioned.
    Because of the isotope-specific nature of the excitation, LIS is capable of selecting a single middle isotope from a mixture.
    For instance,LIS could remove the 236U from a mixture of 235U, 236U and 238U. Niki et al.21 have demonstrated the enrichment of natural Gd to 90% 157Gd using a combination of lasers for excitation and ionization.
    The 157Gd, with an absorption cross section of 255,000 b, is to be used as a burnable poison in LWRs.

    And Forsberg22 has explored the impact of separating 240Pu for the mixture of plutonium isotopes in used nuclear fuel.

    While this concept poses several severe technical challenges in the development of the appropriate LIS system and its integration into the reprocessing, the removal of the 240Pu significantly decreases the subsequent production of minor actinides.
    Both the increased understanding of the astrophysical origins of the heavy elements and the measurement of geoneutrinos over the last few decades indicate that the overall amount of uranium and thorium in the earth are much larger than current estimates of resources.
    This conclusion is to be expected, since estimates of resources are based on known deposits of ore concentrations that are economically attractive.
    Nevertheless, these indications of the global uranium and thorium content can give us confidence that, with sufficient exploration, additional ore bodies can be found as the need and accompanying higher prices appear.
    Enrichment using laser isotope separation may be less expensive per SWU due to its lower energy requirements.
    That improvement, in turn, would allow the tails assay to be decreased, thus
    requiring less natural uranium feed per kg of fuel.

    In addition, the unique characteristics of LIS would allow the selective removal of particular isotopes from recycled fuel, avoiding later actinides production.

    Finally, LIS is being adapted for the tailoring of burnable poisons and structural materials to improve fuel and reactor performance.

    So there you have it in black and white, something that GLE have tried to hide for some time I believe, they will be using the Silex technology and soon I believe and that will be in the plant they Build at Paducah, which I say again for the umpteenth time will be a dual purpose plant, although I will now change that to a multipurpose plant, because they will be separating out much more than just Uranium 235, when they say the removal of the 240Pu significantly decreases the subsequent production of minor actinides.I am thinking that maybe this 240Pu acts as a nuclear poison to the other Plutonium they require or at least the actinides it produces do? but there are also other useful Isotopes that they use in medicine and industry that would be of great value to GLE, I can now see also why Paducah is so important, not just for the tails but more importantly because it is already a contaminated site because of it's past operations, I very much doubt that GLE would be given a license to build a plant similar to what they will be building at Paducah somehow, for as far as nuclear contamination goes, I believe Wilmington would be considered a greenfield site in my opinion?

    All of the above is exactly why GE/GEH/GLE considers the Silex technology game changing, for it isn't just Uranium they are thinking of and it is also a technology that no other technology can replicate, centrifuge technology works on a totally different principle, it works by separating out the heavier Isotopes by spinning them in a centrifuge where the heavier Isotopes move to the outer most point, the Silex technology work in a very different manner by exciting the desired Isotope and pushing (or Pulling?) it away from all of the other isotopes which are not targeted, whether they tune the laser to a different frequency or change lasers I don't know? but what I do know now, is that it works and not just for Uranium.

    GLE will use the tech and I just hope MG made the agreement for any Isotope not just Uranium?

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