Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cheap uranium

Just when I thought it was safe to go outside, I start reading this story and have visions of your neighborhoods gangbangers cooking up some plutonium along with their crystal meth. 

Fortunately, the plant to laser enriched uranium, at $1 billion, is a little out of their price range. 

But it is certainly in the price range of any number of governments.

William J. Broad, New York Times, 20 August 2011 via Herald Tribune.

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.

That might be good news for the nuclear industry. But critics fear that if the work succeeds and the secret gets out, rogue states and terrorists could make bomb fuel in much smaller plants that are difficult to detect…

General Electric, an atomic pioneer and one of the world’s largest companies, says its initial success began in July 2009 at a facility just north of Wilmington, N.C., that is jointly owned with Hitachi. It is impossible to independently verify that claim because the federal government has classified the laser technology as top secret. But G.E. officials say that the achievement is genuine and that they are accelerating plans for a larger complex at the Wilmington site.

“We are currently optimizing the design,” Christopher J. Monetta, president of Global Laser Enrichment, a subsidiary of G.E. and Hitachi, said in an interview.

The current trend within the science fiction community is to have bioengineered collapses in their future dystopias.  Looks like they may have to go back to the old standby of nuclear war.

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