The Other Kind of Reactor (was re: RE: stupid ideas)

Michael M. Butler (butler@comp*
Mon, 09 Jun 1997 00:34:10 -0700

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

Bucky Fuller talked about it decades ago.

A hypothetical fusion torch followed by a mass spec could do the job.

Note that I said "hypothetical".

>Very high temperature incineration is used for some nasty toxins but rarely

>for the mundane reason that all that energy makes it very expensive.

This is because furnace designs suck. Plus it's true that you don't want a containment leak of PCBs, Dioxin, VX or whatever *before* combustion has completed. The furnace reactor chambers resemble what chemists call "bombs"--for good reason.

That said,


>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.

There's a pair of diff eq's here: *everything* is scarce in space; space junk including human waste is becoming obnoxious; a solar concentrator

is relatively trivial to construct if you're staying for a spell.

On Earth, as you mention, most things just aren't perceived as being that hazardous, plus it's lots easier to mine/farm than recycle many elements.

Now, if superinsulation and smart heat recovery were used, you still might be able to run your own reactor (chemical) cheaper than the toxics ones, but there's still the matter of economy of scale, no mass market, and opportunity cost. Nonetheless, heat and lots of it is the closest thing we have to a brute-force "disassembler" today.


I look forward to the day Andromeda Strain happens. Urine *is* usually *almost* sterile, but...

<center>BOUNCE WARNING: A simple reply to the above address will fail.
If you wish to send me a _noncommercial_ message, kindly substitute a
hyphen for the asterisk.