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The High Temperature Teaching and Test reactor is just that, a research reactor. One of the main concerns with nuclear power is what to do with all the waste, even if reactors were all meltdown-proof like the HT3R. One of our research goals for this new facility is to directly answer that very question. The HT3R already uses TRISO fuel in its design, and will have a neutron spectrum which will leave far less waste behind. In addition, the HT3R will have the capability of testing new fuels such as Thorium (which has the added benefit that it doesn't need enrichment), first virtually in its computing center and then directly in fully-loaded fuel test blocks. Included in the layout of the facility are all the hot cells to disassemble and analyze the resulting output. Space has been allocated in the core for long-term irradiation experiments, such as experimental transmutation of longer-lived isotopes into short-lived isotopes which would quickly stabilize.

In short, since the last nuclear power plants went on-line almost 30 years ago, technology has advanced. Now is the time to take these advances to the next level and figure out what to do with existing nuclear waste. Nuclear waste still contains valuable materials and fuel that could be recycled, much like we recycle aluminum or glass. That recycling, in combination with fuels that reduce the waste they leave behind in the first place, is the hope for the future of safe and clean nuclear power. If the nuclear industry can be shown that their existing nuclear waste liability can be turned into a valuable asset, the financial motivation to do something with the waste and to go with smarter fuel design will drive the industry to clean up the current problem.