Re: RE: stupid ideas
Mon, 9 Jun 1997 01:49:47 -0400 (EDT)

On Jun 8, 7:30pm, "Laws, David" wrote:

} brain I don't recall seeing it before. Total recycling. Taking a
} substance and breaking it down into it's molecular components (carbon,
} oxygen, silicon, sulfur, iron, etc). Nanotech may become a vital
} constituent of this process.

} I would like to hear if total recycling has been theorized and how possible

} (given that the technology does not now exist) it may be.

Very high temperature incineration (thousands of degrees) already does what
you're talking about. Things don't come out as atoms, of course, but
recombine into simple molecules (which ones depends on the inputs). Still,
it's easy to manage the resulting chemicals (things like CO2, water, various
metal ores, etc.). You can always add oxygen to the mix but putting in air.

Very high temperature incineration is used for some nasty toxins but rarely
for the mundane reason that all that energy makes it very expensive. It's
cheaper to bury, so that's what's usually done. It's been proposed for
recycling in space, as it's more thorough than purification or biological
processes and there's noplace to bury things without rocketing them to the
Sun or Jupiter, which would be even more expensive than the incineration.