The Future Is Coming Up NukesS

Nuclear power is the other alternative energy - cleaner than biomass, and less retarded than ethanol. Sure there's that pesky problem of nuclear waste, but that's not stopping a union of European, Asian, and United States task forces from working on the next generation of nuclear power plants, that will look something like this on the inside (this is a Trigia research nuke power reactor, designed by Freeman Dyson). And here's the cool part. Many new, generation IV nuclear reactors will be virtually waste-free. Want to see some of the prototype generation IV nuke power plants?

The Future Is Coming Up NukesS

Unlike today's light water reactors, gen IV nuclear power plants like this futuristic one, in Japan, will be fast reactors that won't have any highly-radioactive Plutonium or Uranium waste to bury deep underground. Instead, these elements will be stripped out of the nuclear waste in a process called "partitioning," and reused. There will be some waste, of course, but it won't have a half-life of several hundred thousand years. Probably more like 1000. AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Here's a schematic for a sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor.

The Future Is Coming Up NukesS

Also, fast reactors don't produce products that can be weaponized. So countries using gen IV fast reactors, like this one (below) being built in Kalpakkam, India, won't have to worry that somebody might steal a byproduct and stick it in a bomb. Fun fact: experimental facilities like the Idaho National Laboratory in the US have been experimenting with fast reactor technology for over fifty years. Fast reactors were among the first designs tested for nuclear power, but were scrapped because they were too expensive.

The Future Is Coming Up NukesS

AP Photo M.Lakshman