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Pt 101492

News From The Future: Laser Enriched Uranium – Cheaper, Better, Smaller And Portable?

Scientists have long sought easier ways to make the costly material known as enriched uranium — the fuel of nuclear reactors and bombs, now produced only in giant industrial plants.

One idea, a half-century old, has been to do it with nothing more substantial than lasers and their rays of concentrated light. This futuristic approach has always proved too expensive and difficult for anything but laboratory experimentation.

Until now.

In a little-known effort, General Electric has successfully tested laser enrichment for two years and is seeking federal permission to build a $1 billion plant that would make reactor fuel by the ton.

…The inventors called their idea Silex, for separation of isotopes by laser excitation. “Our approach is completely different,” Dr. Goldsworthy, a physicist, told a Parliamentary hearing.

An old black-and-white photograph of the sensitive technology — perhaps the only image of its kind in existence publicly — shows an array of pipes and low cabinets about the size of a small truck.

This is going to be interesting, we might get cheaper, smaller, better nuclear power – but that means a lot of freaking out about the “potential” of it being used for bomb material. Alternatively when wind and solar are mentioned some consider it either an eyesore or not worth investing in (yet). Even if we tap the sun we’ll still have problems later :)

Any way, if anyone knows where that “old black-and-white photograph” is, post up in the comments!

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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