Mars Mission to use astronaut feces as radiation shield
LONDON, MAR 03 2013, Astronauts onboard a privately-funded expedition
to Mars in 2018 will use their own feces to protect themselves against
The couple during the Inspiration Mars mission, funded by
multimillionaire Dennis Tito, and set to fly-by the Red Planet in 2018
will face cramped conditions, muscle atrophy and potential boredom.
However, their greatest health risk comes from exposure to the
radiation from cosmic rays, ‘New Scientist’ reported.
The project will develop a radiation shield for the spacecraft by
lining its walls with human waste, among other materials.
“It’s a little queasy sounding, but there’s no place for that material
to go, and it makes great radiation shielding,” said Taber MacCallum,
a member of the team funded by Tito who announced the audacious plan
Solid and liquid human waste products would be put into bags and used
as a radiation shield – as well as being dehydrated so that any water
can be recycled for drinking, McCallum said.
“Dehydrate them as much as possible, because we need to get the water
back,” he said.
“Those solid waste products get put into a bag, put right back against
the wall,” said MacCallum, adding food too could be used as a
“Food is going to be stored all around the walls of the spacecraft,
because food is good radiation shielding,” he said.
This would not be dangerous as the food would merely be blocking the
radiation, it would not become a radioactive source, the report said.
Water has long been suggested as a shielding material for
interplanetary space missions.
“Water is better than metals for protection,” said Marco Durante of
the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany.
That is because nuclei are the things that block cosmic rays, and
water molecules, made of three small atoms, contain more nuclei per
volume than a metal.
Nuclear energy: Flexible fission, Ft.com, By Sylvia Pfeifer 14 Feb 13, At the Baltic Shipyard in St Petersburg squats the hull of the Akademik Lomonosov. It is no ordinary ship. Once it is finished in three years’ time, it will be Russia’s first floating nuclear power plant.Two reactors, similar to those used in Russia’s nuclear-powered ice breakers, will each provide 35 megawatts of power. The floating power plant is one of several planned by the Kremlin to be anchored near towns or industrial sites……
Critics are wary, warning that floating atomic power stations would make an ideal terrorist target and be vulnerable to stormy weather and earthquakes. Others point out that even if smaller reactors had less fuel and were partly buried underground, there would be an increasing number of small facilities dotted across emerging markets, sometimes in places that lack the infrastructure to cope with emergencies….
multiple challenges remain.
There are questions over whether the regulatory regime and siting criteria should be relaxed for these reactors? There are also suggestions the plants could be run with fewer staff, helping to cut the costs even further.
Dame Sue Ion, a nuclear fuel expert and fellow at the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering, says the first small modular reactors will, realistically, be sited on existing nuclear-licensed sites.
“It may be that the physical characteristics make it safer but you would still have to have all the safety arrangements and emergency planning in place,” she adds.
“You still have the same safety, proliferation and accident concerns,” says Doug Parr, chief scientist and policy director at campaign group Greenpeace UK. “You need capacity and supportive infrastructure to respond if there is an emergency.”
Then there is the issue of public acceptance. “To expect the general public to just accept them because they are small is pushing the point. It does not seem obvious to me,” Kevin Hesketh, senior fellow at Britain’s National Nuclear Laboratory, told an industry conference last month…….. “Licensing and public acceptance – both have to be addressed. ..
The biggest challenge facing the model is simply that no one has done it. Nuclear also has a bad record on cost. At the same time, competition from renewables, which are becoming cheaper, is growing.
Dominic Holt, associate director, nuclear advisory, at KPMG, says “none of the positives have been tested yet”. Claims of cost and programme certainty are still unproven. Analysis of a range of available data show that the “levelised cost” – per MW/hour – of SMRs is still similar to that of a large reactor…
Lynas’ waste plans a toxic pipe dream Aliran, 19 December 2012 by Wendy Bacon ” ……While Lynas says it is confident in the current by-product plans, they are yet to be tested. Dr Peter Karamoskas, who has been a nuclear radiologist for 13 years and represents the Australian public on the Radiation Safety Committee of Australia’s nuclear safety agency, shares none of that confidence.
Speaking on his own behalf, Karamoskas said that to be safe more than a million tons of WLP residue with a radioactive reading of 6Bq have to be mixed with five times the amount of aggregate to reduce its reading to 1Bq. While he said that a similar process had been used in the Netherlands, the waste was far less radioactive, sitting near 1Bq, which is the threshold for safety. Read more »
The IAEA also recommended that Lynas proceed no further until it had filed comprehensive plans for the permanent disposal of waste, decommissioning of the plant and remediation of the site at the end of its life.
Lynas’ waste plans a toxic pipe dream Aliran, 19 December 2012 Scientists and community leaders are concerned about radioactive waste from Lynas’ Malaysian plant but the company representative who took Wendy Bacon’s questions brushed off the criticism. This is the second of two articles about Lynas by Wendy Bacon.Read the first here.http://aliran.com/11005.html
Australian rare earth company Lynas has always known it had a waste problem. Read more »
Lynas’ waste plans a toxic pipe dream Aliran, 19 December 2012 Scientists and community leaders are concerned about radioactive waste from Lynas’ Malaysian plant but the company representative who took Wendy Bacon’s questions brushed off the criticism. This is the second of two articles about Lynas by Wendy Bacon “………Shutting down the critics
New Matilda asked to interview Lynas Executive Chairperson Nick Curtis but he was not available. Instead we interviewed a Lynas spokesperson who insists that the waste products of the Lamp project are “not hazardous in any way”. He refers to the safety record of Lynas which in “all of its constructions … has been achieved with zero lost time injury”.
When New Matilda suggested that problems are more likely to arise in the long term, even 20 or 30 years away, he replied: “I would be lying if I categorically tell you there is no risk in 20 or 30 years time from anything. What I can tell you is that the unanimous conclusion of all of the scientific experts from all of the different organisations that have investigated this material and everything else is that there will be no discernible risk for the public or anyone else from this facility.”
But this is far from true. Read more »
Lynas will be in court in Malaysia on 19 December. The Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) campaignerswill be appealing against the Kuantan High Court decision to lift its stay on the company being able to exercise its rights to proceed under the temporary licence.
The toxic waste that’s not in Australia’s backyard http://aliran.com/11005.html 18 Dec 12, Australian-owned company Lynas is quietly shipping rare earth to a processing plant in Malaysia – without a firm plan in place to dispose of dangerous radioactive waste. Wendy Bacon reports.
If a manufacturing plant involving radioactive materials moved into your community, one of the first things you would ask is, “what’s going to happen to the waste?”
This is exactly how residents of Kuantan on Malaysia’s east coast reacted when the Australian company Lynas announced plans to build Lamp, the world’s biggest rare earth processing plant in their area.
Several years later, they have no clear answer. Indeed last week, while the plant that will use concentrate imported from Lynas’s rare earth mine at Mount Weld in Western Australia was finally ramping up for production, the Malaysian government and the company were in direct conflict about what would happen to the waste. Read more »
just 1.6 tonnes of thorium metal would be enough to produce 8kg of uranium-233 which is the minimum amount required for a nuclear weapon.
”Small-scale chemical reprocessing of irradiated thorium can create an isotope of uranium – uranium-233 – that could be used in nuclear weapons. If nothing else, this raises a serious proliferation concern.”
Thorium: Proliferation warnings on nuclear ‘wonder-fuel’ , Phys Org, December 5, 2012Thorium is being touted as an ideal fuel for a new generation of nuclear power plants, but in a piece in this week’s Nature, researchers suggest it may not be as benign as portrayed.
The element thorium, which many regard as a potential nuclear “wonder-fuel”, could be a greater proliferation threat than previously thought, scientists have warned. Writing in a Comment piece in the new issue of the journal, Nature, nuclear energy specialists from four British universities suggest that, although thorium has been promoted as a superior fuel for future nuclear energy generation, it should not be regarded as inherently proliferation resistant.
The piece highlights ways in which small quantities of uranium-233, a material useable in nuclear weapons, could be produced covertly from thorium, by chemically separating another isotope, protactinium-233, during its formation. The chemical processes that are needed for protactinium separation could possibly be undertaken using standard lab equipment, potentially allowing it to happen in secret, and beyond the oversight of organisations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the paper says.
The authors note that, from previous experiments to separate protactinium-233, it is feasible that just 1.6 tonnes of thorium metal would be enough to produce 8kg of uranium-233 which is the minimum amount required for a nuclear weapon. Using the process identified in their paper, they add that this could be done “in less than a year.”….. Dr Steve Ashley, from the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge and the paper’s lead author, said. “Small-scale chemical reprocessing of irradiated thorium can create an isotope of uranium – uranium-233 – that could be used in nuclear weapons. If nothing else, this raises a serious proliferation concern.”
More backup systems, he pointed out, would drive up the cost of small reactors, which already have a sizable economic disadvantage compared with large reactors. Because of economies of scale, the capital cost per kilowatt for a small reactor would be approximately 250 percent more than that for a large conventional reactor.
Lyman warned about allowing the industry to site small modular reactors in remote areas or developing countries that have no nuclear experience or emergency planning infrastructure. “UCS believes that [small modular reactors] are only suitable for deployment where there is an established infrastructure to cope with emergencies, and if sufficient numbers of trained operator and security staff can be provided
Nuclear Expert Dispels Myths about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors in Senate Testimony http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/nuclear-expert-dispels-myths.html WASHINGTON (July 14, 2011) -- A physicist from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today testified before a Senate subcommittee that small modular nuclear reactors are not necessarily any safer or more secure than conventional size reactors and could be more dangerous. Companies vying to sell small reactors, he said, are overstating their benefits and downplaying their potential pitfalls.
“Although some light water [small modular reactor] concepts may have desirable safety characteristics,” Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist with UCS’s Global Security Program, told the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, “unless they are carefully designed, licensed, deployed and inspected, [they] could pose comparable or even greater safety, security and proliferation risks than large reactors.”. Read more »
MOX stands for “Mixed-Oxide Fuel.” It is a nuclear power reactor fuel made from plutonium mixed with uranium. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) wants to make experimental MOX fuel using plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons.
Use of MOX fuel fails as a means of getting rid of plutonium. Instead, the plutonium just becomes part of the lethal soup of ingredients termed “high-level nuclear waste”
What is MOX? http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/basicmoxinfo.htm The giant French nuclear firm Cogema, Duke Power and Virginia Power have formed a consortium to create and use plutonium MOX fuel in civilian atomic reactors in North and South Carolina and Virginia.
If their effort is successful, plutonium would be trucked from nuclear weapons depots in the west to the Savannah River Plant on the South Carolina/Georgia border, where new plutonium processing plants would be built. This new MOX fuel would then be trucked to commercial reactors in the Southeast, in order to turn this plutonium into high-level radioactive waste.
The MOX program is dangerous and unnecessary. More than 200 environmental and other organizations across the world have signed an International NIX MOX statement and have pledged to work to stop this program in the U.S. and similar programs in Russia, France and England. Read more »
ultimately, the decision may have come down to the commercial prospects for the technologies. The fact remains that the economics of all of these designs remains murky.
Based on economies of scale, small reactors will produce more expensive electricity than large reactors, all other factors being equal.
Does DOE’s Funding Announcement Mark the End of its Irrational Exuberance for SMRs? http://allthingsnuclear.org/does-does-funding-announcement-mark-the-end-of-its-irrational-exuberance-for-smrs/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AllThingsNuclear+%28All+Things+Nuclear%29 Ed Lyman, senior scientist
November 21, 2012
On November 20 DOE finally announced that the Babcock and Wilcox Company (B&W) and its “mPower” reactor were the lucky winners of its Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for a cost-sharing program with industry for the design and licensing of “small modular reactors,” or SMRs. Although DOE had originally said the announcement would come in July or August, it decided instead to bury it on Thanksgiving week – not usually a time the agency releases news of which it is particularly proud.
And in fact, the real news is not that a grant was awarded to B&W – this was a near-certainty – but that there was only one winner instead of two. While the initial FOA specified the program was meant to fund “up to two” projects, the widespread expectation was that two grants would be awarded to the pool of four applicants. Read more »
- 1 NUCLEAR ISSUES
- civil liberties
- Depleted uranium
- global warming
- Opposition to nuclear
- safety and incidents
- secrets and lies
- NUCLEAR COMPANIES
- 1 NUCLEAR ISSUES