Kirk Sorensen is one of the most energetic pro-nuclear activists I have ever met. Not only is he the head nuclear technologist at Teledyne, but he is teaching at the University of Tennessee, obtaining his PhD, and raising some of the brightest young ladies I have ever met. Somehow, he manages to find time every once in a while for a trip out to Mountain View to talk to Google employees about his passion for improving the ways that we use nuclear energy to benefit mankind.
I highly recommend that you pour yourself a large cup of coffee, select the full screen view and watch him talk about the actual composition and value of the stuff that many people call “waste.”
Aside: I volunteer to take that waste off of the hands of anyone who wants to get rid of it. It is really valuable stuff. People have told me that I am a poor negotiator – I should be telling utilities how terrible it is to have to keep storing that material and how they should be so anxious to get rid of it that they should pay someone to come and get it. End Aside
Kirk’s talk reminded me of a story from my days as a struggling independent businessman. In the very late 1990s, I was working on a deal that would have resulted in making a good chunk of change by producing RTG’s to power undersea cables for what was, at the time, a very large telecom company. Most people do not realize that undersea cables need amplification about every 66 miles (100 km). Those amplifiers need power; running power cables along with the fiber more than doubles the cost per mile. Our proposal would have provided RTGs as the power source at each amplification step with just fiber on the in between paths.
Unfortunately, the deal fell through in the burst of the dot com bubble. The key to the deal was that I had located a substantial supply of already separated Sr-90 that the owner really wanted to get rid of instead of continuing to pay millions of dollars per year for a storage facility. That Sr-90 has only about 70% of the heat it had then, and Alan, the contact I had that was interested in helping with the paperwork, has long ago retired.