A report was released by the US Energy Department yesterday, estimating that the Yucca Mountain Nuclear waste project will cost $38.7 billion more than the 2001 estimate.
A simple, effective, cheaper, and more permanent solution is to direct this funding into research and completion of the Space Elevator, which is estimated to cost $40 million dollars to complete according to the 55th International Astronautical Congress in 2004.
…getting rid of the country’s nuclear waste will cost $96.2 billion and require a major expansion of the planned Nevada waste dump beyond limits imposed by Congress, the Energy Department said Tuesday.
Space Elevator? Never heard of it? It may sound like something of science fiction, but in fact, it is a real possibility using currently known technologies. NASA is actively exploring the elevator and is providing monetary prizes (like the X-Prize) for various components of the elevator. Aquick “Google” of nasa.gov sites for “Space Elevator” returns over 25,000 results. New companies have already been founded on the potential market for the carbon nanotubes that will be required for its construction.
If the elevator were to become a reality, disposal of nuclear waste would be simply, “lift it…then push it toward the sun”. No longer would the primary deterrent from nuclear energy (waste) be an issue.
Theoretically, the waste could be transported on heavy-lift rockets, but the cost per kilo and the safety concerns quickly eliminate that possibility. Even the most optimistic rocket proposals only claim to bring prices down to about $400 per kilo. The first space elevator is estimate to be as low as $220 per kilogram and would constantly decrease as time went on due to simple economy of scale.
Do you remember the controversy surrounding the launch of the nuclear powered Cassini spacecraft in 1997? It is doubtful the public would ever let nuclear waste sitting on top of a controlled explosion become a frequent occurrence.
The combination of nuclear (along with wind, wave and solar) power, advanced battery technology, and the space elevator can essentially (almost) eliminate the earth’s need for oil.
BTW – When I get around to running for President, this will be part of my platform.
- Space Elevator
- Report: Nuclear waste disposal will cost US $96B
- Space Elevator Economics
- Nova Science Now – Space Elevators
- US Government Results for “Space Elevator” (44,800)
Image: timparkinson [via Flickr]