200 years isn’t forever, but in terms of the political problem of nuclear waste disposal it is effectively “forever”.
That is why the new “traveling wave” reactor, created by a private company, that uses abundant U-238 and needs refueling every couple of centuries is such big news.
Gilleland’s aim is to run a nuclear reactor on what is now waste. ÂConventional reactors use uranium-235, which splits easily to carry on a chain reaction but is scarce and expensive; it must be separated from the more common, nonfissile uranium-238 in special enrichment plants. Every 18 to 24 months, the reactor must be opened, hundreds of fuel bundles removed, hundreds added, and the remainder reshuffled to supply all the fissile uranium needed for the next run. This raises proliferation concerns, since an enrichment plant designed to make low-enriched uranium for a power reactor differs trivially from one that makes highly enriched material for a bomb.
Keep it up – we need an technological singularity to get out of the economic mess we are in!