Hungarian scientists at the Szeged University are researching a laser procedure that could reduce the radioactive decay of used nuclear power plant fuel, Minister for Information and Technology László Palkovics told conservative daily Magyar Nemzet in an interview.
“The radiation level of used nuclear fuel – using current technologies – will only decay to below natural radiation levels after 300,000 to 500,000 years. Using the transmutation procedure – whose theory is not new, but a breakthrough is yet to be reached – this time can be reduced a thousandfold,” Palkovics said. “Experiments are already underway at the ELI laser research institute in Szeged as is the production of relevant equipment.”
He said the research, conducted jointly with French, American and Japanese universities could yield results within fifteen years.
Regarding other types of waste, Palkovics said that this summer the government has forbidden the import of sewage sludge in which Hungary was third behind Germany and France.
“We don’t have the (processing) technology that would justify the import of it. We are not using it optimally, so it is not worth importing it from Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. This is why the government decided in the summer not to grant further import licenses.”
Palkovics also said that the seven million tonnes of waste produced by industry and other sectors of the economy are being disposed of properly, but the country only has the capacity to process about half of the annual 3.7 million tonnes of communal waste, half of which is, for that reason, simply deposited instead of processed.
“According to European directives, this level [of depositing waste instead of processing it] should be at most 10 percent by 2035, and we agree with that,” he said, adding that Hungary’s current waste collection is supposedly insufficiently selective, which means that Hungary cannot turn enough waste into refuse-derived fuel (RDF), which could be as high one million tonnes per year.
Hungarian power plants already use RDF, but some of it is imported, with the users saying that Hungarian waste is of insufficient quality. Palkovics said that argument is clearly nonsense and economic interests must be behind it.
Title image: Minister for information and technology László Palkovics (Magyar Nemzet/Miklós Teknős)