The production of power is essential to the world’s survival. Unfortunately, that same production often comes with a lot of environmental risks. The good news is that today’s technology and innovation have made it much easier for power plants to control their impact on the surrounding environment.
As preserving the Earth has become a central focus for much of the world, power generation has been forced to follow suit. Take a moment to check out a few ways in which power plants are working to reduce waste production.
Understanding the waste that is generated
The saving grace of nuclear fuel is that it contains a whole lot of energy. Plants don’t have to use a lot of the fuel to create mass amounts of energy, so only a small amount of waste is actually produced from the process.
If you need a visual representation of how much waste is produced, consider this. The amount of waste produced from the nuclear fuel needed to power a home for a full year would only be the size of a standard brick. It would only weigh as much as a sheet of paper.
Assessing the perceived health risks
Nuclear waste takes billions of years to completely become free of any harmful components, but it takes hundreds of years to degrade to the point that it is no longer super dangerous for humans. For that time, the nuclear industry has had to figure out how to contain the waste.
It’s important to know that the storage of nuclear waste also does not pose a significant health risk to the environment or humans surrounding the site. Even if there was a spill, it wouldn’t hurt the people who live nearby.
Storage options for the waste
After the use of nuclear fuel, the waste needs to be initially cooled before it can be safely stored. Plants use wet and dry storage facilities to contain the waste produced by the process. The waste is placed in large pools at first to initiate cooling.
After a sufficient time has passed for cooling the waste, it can be transferred to dry storage. Storage is not the last stop for the waste. After it has had time to degrade a bit, the waste is either recycled or put through a disposal process.
Nuclear waste can be recycled
Almost all of the waste produced for nuclear energy is reusable in another type of reactor. When plutonium and uranium are extracted from the waste, they can then be used to create new fuel rods.
Direct disposal of the waste
Direct disposal of nuclear waste means that the waste is placed in a special underground repository built to hold and contain the radiation for an indefinite amount of time.