i heard about this quite a while ago, and very excited about it! i worked in the nuclear industry for almost 4 years and want to get back into it, so no surprise there.
its actually a very sound concept, 'burning' the waste efficiently only requires a reconfiguration of the reactor and fuel bundles but thats not practical in large plants. however this idea is a stroke of genius...large supply of clean burning power while reducing our waste by a massive amount! love it already.
also ive suffered with asthma/allergies all my life so anything that gets rid of coal burning is wonderful to me. i've had days in the heat of summer where i can't go outside for long because of the smog - can't bloody well breathe right.
also for you guys that want to see electric cars a big problem has always been where do we get enough electricity for that....this answers that question rather nicely.
zero_gravity, I agree about everything you posted there, especially the bit about electric cars. Another car technology that would be made reasonable by a huge supply of cheap energy would be hydrogen from electrolysis. It could be used in fuel cell electric vehicles, or it could be burned in internal combustion engines.
In addition, all that coal doesn't have to be left in the ground. It can be converted into gasoline using mature technology that just doesn't get used because coal is worth enough without converting it (really, any hydrocarbon or fossil fuel can). That can extend what may be a limited supply of dinosaur juice.
I guess I'm slightly skeptical since it is in Esquire instead of a Science magazine. But whatever, I'll take it in whatever form it exists I suppose.
However, I'm more curious about how well the waste material is processed- if the initial process degrades the uranium from 99% to 95%, that still leaves a lot of potential energy to extract I suppose. However, I didn't see how well this "new" process degrades the uranium further - down to 94%? down to 5%?
In either case, part of me wants to take the wasted uranium, and instead of burying it (which seems to be the only solution right now) we could blast it off into outer space (on a trajectory that wouldn't hit any other planets) and just let the waste uranium sail toward some other galaxy somewhere in a billion trillion years. But I guess that opens the possibility that the rocket might explode in the atmosphere at/after blastoff, leaving a bit of a mess to clean up.
I live near a Nuclear plant (Seabrook, NH) and get my electricity from there. Actually, the site was initially configured for two reactors, but due to budget issues only one was ever completed. Obama mentioned possibly completing the second reactor during his campaign, although I bet he's forgotten that by now... Anyhow, I'd love to see the second reactor built, and I wonder if this is a way it could be done. (Although the PRISM plans sound like they are intended for ground-up new facilities, and not really adaptable to existing plants.)
My understanding is that these reactors would be able to be mass produced, and shipped out on railcars. On site they could be daisy chained together. It also mentioned the possibility of converting existing coal plants to nuclear with this technology.
The idea of both types of reactors on site is an interesting one. That would mean no waste is shipped. Its created, in the first reactor, burned in the second, and rendered inert.