The researchers—Mike Kotschenreuther, Prashant Valanju, and Swadesh Mahajan of the College of Natural Sciences—have patented the concept for a novel fusion-fission hybrid nuclear reactor that would use nuclear fusion and fission together to incinerate nuclear waste. Fusion produces energy by fusing atomic nuclei, and fission produces energy by splitting atomic nuclei.
The process of burning the waste would also produce energy. The researchers' goal is to eliminate 99% of the most toxic transuranic waste from nuclear fission reactors.
"The potential for this kind of technology is enormous," says Mahajan, professor of physics. "Now that we have the patent, we hope this will open up opportunities to engage with the research and development community to further this potentially world-changing technology."
The researchers' patent covers a tokamak device, which uses magnetic fields to produce fusion reactions. The patented tokamak is surrounded by an area that would house a nuclear waste fuel source and waste by-products of the nuclear fuel cycle. The device is driven by a transformational technology called the Super X Divertor."
The posting at UT: http://www.utexas.edu/news/2012/09/12/nuclear-waste-burning-technology-change-face-of-nuclear-energy/
Also see: http://web5.cns.utexas.edu/news/2009/01/fusion-fission-hybrid/