Whaddya Do With The Waste?

Waste from producing electricity

Standard:  1000 MW
electricity for one year

4.8 million tonnes of CO2 per year from natural gas

That's 2.4 billion cubic meters

From a nuke producing the same electricity:

1 tonne of high-level nuclear waste

Natural gas is the natural fuel with the fewest contaminants.  It is also the easiest to burn cleanly --- producing the least amount of unburned fuel that might escape into the environment.  To produce 1000 MW of electricity around the clock for a year requires (at a thermal efficiency of 1/3), about 1,800,000 tonnes (1 tonne = 1000 kg = 1.1 tons) of methane.

The waste products from burning pure methane are water vapor and carbon dioxide.  Every 16 grams of methane (CH4) results in 44 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2).  The production of CO2 from the 1000-MW electrical plant is therefore 4.8 million tonnes per year.

As pure carbon dioxide at atmospheric pressure, the CO2 would occupy 2.4 billion cubic meters, equivalent to a cube 1.3 km (the better part of a mile) on a side.

The high-level waste from a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of electricity is 1 (one) tonne.  With all the uranium-238, the fuel cladding, and all necessary shielding, the nuclear waste occupies no more than a few tens of cubic meters; the waste by itself occupies less than a cubic meter.

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