A fusion primary energy source will change the way we will recycle all waste materials. Production of materials generally involves chemical reactions taking materials from high-energy to low energy states. I’ll use the example of an old school bus. Lets fill it with metal containers of nerve gas to demonstrate how completely this process will eliminate all dangerous wastes. We vaporize the bus and all of these components, including the nerve gas, in a reducing atmosphere. This is not burning, it can be considered anti burning… the opposite. The chemical reactions which formed the bus, the nerve gas, and all their components are run backwards. The result is that we go back to the source chemicals. Those very source chemicals from which the bus, the nerve gas, and all these components were derived. Primary energy from fusion will permit the recycling of discarded materials back to the raw materials from which they were made. These raw materials are then available for production of new, useful items. Nothing will be wasted. But this process needs the availability of the primary energy of fusion. Presently we burn wastes to get energy. This process adds energy to waste to bring them back to raw materials.
Agricultural and industrial processes produce large amounts of biomass and sludge. Their high water content is often difficult to remove. Large amounts of energy are used transporting these wastes containing mostly water to processing facilities. Fusion powered on site dewatering and initial processing can reduce over 90% of the weight needed to be transported to advanced processing facilities.
Elimination of dangerous radioactive wastes is one of the most profound possibilities of controlled fusion. It sounds like alchemy and it is. Alchemists tried to make lead into gold. They discovered chemistry in the process. Changing lead into gold is a nuclear reaction, called transmutation. You can make lead into gold in fusion reactors, for that's where gold is made… in fusion reactors called Stars.
Within uranium and plutonium fission reactors, the reactions occur with in a solid. It is not practical to introduce significant amounts of materials to undergo transmutation with reactions occurring in a solid.
The reactions in our fusion reactors occur in a gaseous plasma. All radioactive waste can be gasified for injection into a fusion reactor. The transmutation reactions would occur in the gaseous plasma along with the fusion reactions.
We will use uranium 92, the heaviest natural element as an example. In separation of uranium isotopes, uranium is first gasified with fluorine. The centrifuges you hear about Iran building are used separating uranium isotopes in uranium hexafluoride gas.
Fusion and transmutation reactions will run simultaneously in a fusion reactor, producing power and transmutation of radioactive waste at the same time. Fuel, catalysts, and radioactive wastes will be injected. Extracted exhaust gases will be mass separated. Radioactive materials and unused fuel left in the exhaust will be sent back to the beginning and reprocessed through the reactor. Materials safe for reuse will be sent to final reprocessing facilities. We just filed a patent application on the separator required for this process. Though we could use these processes to make lead into gold, elimination of radioactive waste is much more valuable.