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$731
pledged of $100,000pledged of $100,000 goal
7
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Fri, November 14 2014 6:06 PM UTC +00:00
ThinkIncubate, Inc.By ThinkIncubate, Inc.
First created
ThinkIncubate, Inc.By ThinkIncubate, Inc.
First created
$731
pledged of $100,000pledged of $100,000 goal
7
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Fri, November 14 2014 6:06 PM UTC +00:00

About

Overview of the Project:

Mankind needs electrical energy. There is no way of avoiding it and, if anything, in the future more and more energy will be needed.

Unfortunately, one very effective method of producing electricity (nuclear power plants) creates nuclear waste which is a messy mixture of dreadfully dangerous, potent and long-lasting substances.  Fortunately, however, our understanding of physics indicates that radiotoxic substances can be destroyed (i.e., transformed into safer materials).

The objectives of our project are to:  (i) identify and evaluate potential methods of destroying nuclear waste; (ii) summarize our findings in an accessible publication, and; (iii) make this publication readily available to all.  This "book" will serve as an authoritative resource and point of reference for individuals and organizations that recognize the importance of this problem and will take action to resolve it.

The following is a more thorough explanation of our project goals and an overview of the scientific evidence that supports our perspective that this is a viable and worthwhile endeavor. 

There are several techniques for producing electrical energy and we probably cannot afford to totally abandon any of them. The energy of the nucleus of the atom provides a particularly attractive option because the energy yield per kilogram of matter is so high. In addition, nuclear energy is ecologically clean and is not related to the energy of sunlight.  There are currently approximately 100 operating nuclear reactors in the USA and several hundred more around the world. Unfortunately, they are all producing copious quantities of dangerous materials collectively known as high-level nuclear waste.

High-level nuclear waste is a problem because it is a mixture of toxic substances that are all very, very radioactive and some of them will remain dangerously radioactive for many hundreds of thousands of years!  Some for many millions of years!!

After decades of wishy-washy policies and indecisive strategies, it has become clear that we cannot rely on politicians, governments, etc. to solve the problem of eliminating nuclear waste from our environment.

Therefore this Kickstarter project is intended to launch the first step in an international grass-roots campaign to get rid of dangerous nuclear waste. Since this problem is particularly acute for future generations, it is very appropriate that the key member of our project team is a concerned teenager. He is a talented, science-oriented high-school student and we are confident that his involvement will inspire other youngsters to make a commitment to this critically important endeavor.

Perhaps it is understandable that older people are not as worried about nuclear waste as one might expect.  It is unlikely to cause a major problem in their lifetime.  However, this is a frustrating state of affairs, especially for young people, because, unfortunately, there is likely to be a major problem in their lifetime and many of these concerned individuals cannot yet vote to let their elected representatives know their views.  How can individuals (including young people) influence this important issue? This Kickstarter project is how.  If you are below the voting age, contributing to this project represents a new form of democracy in action!  If you are above the voting age, contributing to this project is just a very good idea!

We are seeking $100,000. Much more than that will eventually be needed, but $100K will represent an important, symbolic funding seed. It will allow us to perform all of the necessary research and literature searches, any required software modeling and testing techniques via prototype studies. Finally, and most important, it will also allow us to activate our team of experts and assemble an authoritative and unbiased document that summarizes the size of the problem, identifies all possible solutions and makes clear and unambiguous recommendations.

If you are hungry for more information……. read on!

What is Nuclear Energy?

All of the matter that we know of in our universe is made of atoms. At the center of every atom is a very small, very dense piece of stuff that we call the nucleus. Every nucleus of every atom is held together by a large quantity of energy. This energy is called nuclear energy and mankind has discovered some ways of liberating this energy and turning it into electricity using a device known as a nuclear reactor. All nuclear reactors today use uranium-235 as the fuel and a process known as nuclear fission to liberate the energy.

What is Nuclear Waste?

All nuclear technology produces nuclear waste.  Nuclear weapons production and nuclear reactor operation being the worst offenders.  We can't do much about nuclear weapons (yet!), but nuclear reactor waste is another matter.

Neutron bombardment of the fuel in the core of a nuclear reactor liberates energy in the form of heat that can be used to produce electricity. Unfortunately, this environment also produces many substances that are dangerously radioactive and dangerously toxic. Some of these are products of the nuclear fission processes that produce heat and some are "man-made" elements created in the very unnatural neutron-rich environment of the reactor core. They are very radioactive for a very long time (even millions of years in some cases) and the whole mess of substances is collectively referred to as high-level nuclear waste. There are other categories of radiotoxic nuclear waste known as low-level and intermediate level nuclear waste. As their names suggest, these substances are not as nasty as high-level nuclear waste. In this project we are focussing on the high-level stuff.

What is the Problem?

The discovery of nuclear energy and the technological development of nuclear reactors held great promise to meet the energy needs of civilization for a very long time. Unfortunately, several recent events have turned society against nuclear energy and nuclear reactors are now being closed down one-by-one. In some countries new reactors are being built! Nuclear reactors have been in use for several decades, but they have always posed several problems for society that have never been resolved.

Primary among these problems is the unavoidable generation of large amounts of high-level radiotoxic waste. As an example: even though the uranium fuel in a nuclear reactor is enriched to a high degree, it still contains a significant quantity of the isotope uranium-238 (U-238) and, in the intense neutron environment of the nuclear reactor core, this transmutes into the isotope plutonium-239 (Pu-239). Pu-239 is radioactive and will remain hazardous for many hundreds of thousands of years.

Plutonium and other long-lived transuranic radionuclides are produced in nuclear reactors in copious quantities. In addition, the spent fuel itself constitutes a hazardous radiotoxic substance.  And finally, the nuclear fission process itself produces some very nasty stuff!

Nuclear reactors have been operating for more than fifty years and there are many hundreds of thousands of tons of this so-called high-level nuclear waste.

No satisfactory technique has yet been developed for dealing with high-level nuclear waste.

Politicians and governments don't seem to be able to solve this problem. They waste billions of dollars and achieve nothing.  A perfect example is the manner in which a USA-Russia agreement of 2011 is being handled. In that agreement, both nations agreed to permanently get rid of 34 tons of nuclear-weapons-grade plutonium that is no longer needed (whatever that means!) US politicians are still debating how to fulfill the US part of the deal and all alternatives are estimated to cost many, many billions of US dollars.  The cheapest option is about $10 billion.  And that is to get rid of just 34 tons: this is a minuscule fraction (somewhere between one ten-thousandth and one hundred-thousandth) of the global problem!  And, by the way, it has been estimated that 2kg of plutonium would be enough to kill every living thing on the planet!

What is the Solution?

There is no solution…………… yet!

There are several possible ways to dispose of or eliminate these toxic waste products; however, uranium-based nuclear reactors have been operating for more than fifty years and humankind has still not identified the best method. It is currently estimated that, worldwide, there are more than a million tons of high-level radiotoxic waste with most of it being stored at nuclear reactor sites. At least a thousand tons per reactor site are in the USA. As reactors are closed down and abandoned it is not clear what will happen to these stockpiles of very dangerous substances. It is not even clear who will take responsibility for any action.

It might be that burying the stuff or dumping it in a deep hole is the best solution, although it is hard to imagine any site that can be guaranteed to be geologically stable for millions of years.

There are ways, using neutron bombardment for example, to convert the very long lifetime nasty stuff into shorter lifetime nasty stuff.  After that, perhaps dumping it in a convenient hole in the ground or storing it in a "safe" repository  may make some sense.

We shall see!

What is the Project?

Our ultimate proposal is an ambitious one. We are proposing to rid the world of the high-level nuclear waste that has been accumulated during the operation of nuclear reactors. Our program consists of three stages: evaluation, implementation and elimination. We have already identified the members of a core group of physicists, nuclear engineers and non-scientists and for this Kickstarter project, we are seeking funding to activate this group and launch the first stage.

We propose to perform an exhaustive evaluation and, where necessary, detailed simulation of all the possibilities. As the evaluation stage matures, we intend to add more crucial non-scientists (PR people, lobbyists, etc.) to our core group. Equipped with our own independent, authoritative and completely unbiased results, we will be in a position to evaluate the feasibility of the various approaches, select the best and embark on the implementation stage.

So, we intend to embark upon an independent evaluation of the nuclear waste problem and investigate all of the potential solutions in an unbiassed and non-partisan manner. We intend to identify the advantages and disadvantages of all possible techniques. We intend to make recommendations. As far as we can tell, and amazingly for such an important subject, no independent, unbiased and scientific review of the alternatives has ever been performed.

When we have all the results, we shall write a very clear, unambiguous review of the alternatives with a clear, unambiguous recommendation of the best technique. It may be that there is no "best" technique and that different nuclear waste sites will necessitate different solutions. We are prepared for that possibility.

The music used in the video is Flashback by Alice Hive

Risks and challenges

The biggest risk is if we fail! The problem we are facing is a big one that threatens the well-being of every living creature on earth. It must be solved. If we fail this time we shall keep on trying for as long as it takes.

Our biggest challenge is motivating people to care enough to help us solve this problem. Many people don't care because they see this not so much as a problem now, rather a problem facing future generations. This is wrong-headed and everyone must be convinced that the problem must be solved now (or at least ASAP!)

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Anyone who donates more than $1 will sleep better at night knowing that you have helped to eliminate nuclear waste; stuff that is hazardous to all known life forms. If you are younger than the voting age, you can be happy that, even though you can't vote yet, you have let your opinions be known and contributed to a new form of democracy!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    These backers will receive either a pen or t-shirt (you choose!) with a suitable "destroy nuclear waste" project logo.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Our results will be summarized in lay-language and self-published as a paperback book. This book will be available for purchase by anyone but will be given as a reward to all backers who contribute $100 or more. We shall also provide a CD version and a downloadable version of the book for those who prefer it. These backers will also receive either a pen or t-shirt (you choose!) with a suitable "destroy nuclear waste" logo.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Come and join the team at a celebratory dinner where you will receive all of the above rewards (pen, t-shirt and book) plus a certificate of appreciation signed by the team plus a photograph with the team making the presentation.

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Funding period

- (60 days)