Can Toxic Mine Waste Be Safely Turned into Fuel?

Can Toxic Mine Waste Be Safely Turned into Fuel?

by RP Siegel

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Monday, January 5, 2015 - 4:00pm



One of the cornerstones of a sustainable society is the complete eradication of the concept of waste. After all, nature has no waste; everything gets used one way or another. It’s only when people came along that the whole idea got started. Already, a number of factories have become zero waste and a few intrepid homeowners put out the equivalent of one shopping bag of trash per year, so it is possible, at least in principle. Food can be composted or turned into fuel. Aluminum, paper and plastic can be recycled. Heavier metals like steel and lead can be reclaimed and reused. But what about the really nasty stuff, like toxic waste?

Last year, a professor at Texas A&M University came up with a process to turn nuclear waste into energy. The process would utilize subcritical fission to break down the most dangerous components, the transuranics, over a period of years, producing energy in the process.

There are also people using mushrooms to clean up oil spills and plastic waste.

It seems like we need to recruit the help of Mother Nature in addressing some of our biggest mistakes. It heralds the emergence of a new field of bio-processing.

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Image credit: Marlene Thoms: Flickr Creative Commons

RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. He has been published in business and technical journals and has written three books. His third, co-authored with Roger Saillant, is Vapor Trails, an eco-thriller that is being adapted for the big screen. RP is a professional engineer – and a prolific inventor, with 50 patents, numerous awards, and several commercial products. He is president of Rain Mountain LLC and is an active environmental advocate in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y. In addition to Justmeans, he writes for Triple Pundit, ThomasNet News, and Energy Viewpoints, occasionally contributing to Mechanical Engineering, Strategy + Business, and Huffington Post. You can follow RP on Twitter, @RPSiegel.