[Marxism] Re Peak Oil

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Sun Oct 16 03:17:33 MDT 2005


Les Schaffer wrote:

> the issue i have seen raised is degradation of encasing material due 
> to radiation fluxes


a more up-to-date, albeit technical, study:

http://www.esc.cam.ac.uk/~kot/CaTiO3_PRB.pdf

though this is for crystalline materials. however, as a companion report 
notes:

    Our interest in radiation damage effects comes from the problem of
    safe handling of
    radioactive materials that are of no use to us, but possess enough
    activity to pose a danger
    to the living environment. These include highly radioactive nuclear
    waste from nuclear
    power stations. Its safe encapsulation is often linked to the future
    of nuclear power, but
    even regardless of this, the currently accumulated amount of highly
    radioactive nuclear waste
    is sufficiently large to present us with the problem of its safe
    storage. An additional source of
    radioactive materials is surplus Pu. Some of it can be reprocessed
    into the mixed fuel oxide
    to be burned in nuclear reactors, but the high cost of this process
    and the risk of proliferation
    are often used to argue against reprocessing and in favour of
    encapsulation [2]. Vitrification,
    or immobilization of nuclear waste in glasses, has been a
    traditional method of encapsulation,
    but it has been recently recognized that crystalline oxide ceramics
    offer better durability and
    stability as encapsulation matrices (waste forms), and several
    ceramics have been proposed
    for encapsulating highly radioactive nuclear waste and surplus Pu
    [3–6]. A number of other
    materials are being actively investigated as possible waste forms,
    including TiO2, perovskite
    CaTiO3, zirconolite CaZrTi2O7, zirconia ZrO2, zircon ZrSiO4,
    pyrochlores Gd2Ti2O7 and
    Gd2Zr2O7, APO4 monazites and other complex oxides [7–52].

    Under irradiation, a waste form may experience a large sharp
    percolation-type increase
    of chemical transport which reduces its ability to serve as an
    effective immobilization barrier.
    During alpha decay, a heavy recoiling atom inflicts the most
    structural damage, by creating
    several thousands of permanently displaced atoms [53]. As the
    radiation dose increases, the
    local damaged regions connect to form a percolating cluster, which
    provides a macroscopic
    pathway for increased transport of chemical species. These include
    radioactive isotopes which
    may diffuse out in the environment [57, 58]. Because some
    radioactive isotopes are long lived,
    a waste form should remain an effective immobilization barrier on
    the timescale of up to a
    million years. In this context, the search for materials that are
    resistant to amorphization by
    radiation damage is currently under way.

    from: http://www.esc.cam.ac.uk/~kot/review.pdf

so you can see things have come a long way since Rod's Science reports 
of the 1980's. i will try to look up why these crystalline materials are 
"better than" the currently-used amorphous glasses early next week in 
the library.

and i'll look at Rod's nuke power numbers tmw evening.

on a personal note, this discussion motivated me to include a section on 
nuclear reactions in my Modern Physics class this semester. i tip my hat 
to marxists who are unafraid to look at this energy source, but i would 
caution against seeing it as a panacea. the practical implementation of 
a safe nuclear energy cycle will require blood sweat and tears under 
capitalism and its successors.

les schaffer





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