The fall 2016 Berkeley Engineer story on “New nukes” elicited several comments about the future of nuclear energy and the direction of the advanced nuclear technologies. Edited excerpts follow.

“This is hugely heartening news! I have tried repeatedly to encourage several professors at my alma mater to take up the cause of ‘new nukes.’”
— Kirk Gothier, via Facebook

“…And, may I ask, why are there not more than 10 words here, by the author or the interviewees, about what they plan to do with the waste produced? Just keep burying it in underground facilities that are supposed to remain safe for the next 10,000+ years, designed by more experts in white coats on land scientifically stripped of history, politics and people? Send it off to poor countries? Buy carbon credits to offset nuclear power’s 10,000+ year radiation problem?”
— Name withheld, Berkeley social science Ph.D. student, via Facebook

“While the article may not mention this aspect of nuclear science in as much detail as you may have wished, it is not an area that is being neglected — at Berkeley or in the nuclear science community at large. In fact, until his unfortunate passing earlier this year, nuclear engineering professor Joonhong Ahn was a distinguished leader in the field of radiological safety and waste management… Some of the advanced reactor types mentioned in the article find better ways to use more input fuel, producing waste that survives much shorter amounts of time — a few hundred years rather than tens of thousands. This is still a technical fix, I know, but I challenge you to find another carbon-neutral energy source with the base load power capacity of fossil fuels that is not in some way technical. If you want electricity, you’ll need a scientific
— Mitch Negus, Berkeley nuclear engineering Ph.D. student, via Facebook

“Please, both, all, keep up good work!”
— Peter MacInerney, via email

Topics: Nuclear engineering

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