Sunday, August 06, 2006

Scientists develop a better way of dealing with nuclear waste

People's Daily Online

A group of physicists at Ruhr University in Germany have developed a technique that could render nuclear waste harmless in just a matter of decades, rather than thousands of years, the August issue of Physics World said.

The technique involves embedding the nuclear waste in metal and cooling it to ultra-low temperatures, thus speeding up the rate of decay of the radioactive materials.

"The method we are proposing means that nuclear waste could probably be dealt with entirely within the lifetime of the people who produce it," the group leader Professor Claus Rolfs said.

"We would not have to put them (the nuclear waste) underground and let our great-great-grandchildren pay the prices for our high standard of living," he added.

The physicists claimed that using this technique could reduce the half-life of nuclear waste to 100 years and at best to as little as two years, which would avoid the need to bury it in deep repositories - a huge, expensive and difficult process.

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