Is all nuclear power created equal?

With the apparent rise of energy scarcity in the UK some in the media have been asking whether the Govt is indeed correct in wanting to build more nuclear power stations, and of course that is one option. However, when you restrict nuclear power to mean only uranium fission reactions, you get a distorted picture.

Some time ago I saw a TV programme featuring a USA citizen who claimed that radium was seriously considered for powering the first American reactors, but that the military squashed that idea because it would have made it much harder for them to get the enriched uranium that weapons needed. If this was for real, it would be a big deal, because although radium is itself radioactive, it breaks down into stable, non radioactive parts. As that suggests, it would make fission energy much more tractable, with much reduced active waste to deal with.

The world also tends to forget nuclear fusion, which involves no radioactive material at all. Typically, you put ‘heavy’ hydrogen in and get helium, which is incidentally rare on earth and quite useful. What it does need are incredible temperatures and pressures, which has for decades made it the poor child of energy. However, the research that has been done indicates that we now know how to do it - the problem is just one of scale. Let us do that final push and prove the point one way or the other!

Whatever the solution, let us find a way to stop burning fossil fuels. While the sceptics moan it really is not in our interests to continue. And no, it is not ‘save the planet’ time. The planet, and probably ghe cocktoaches, will carry on quite happuly. It is our own life that is at deadly risk now.