Climate Confident

Circular Economy And Nuclear Energy - A Chat With Curio Legacy's Ed McGinnis

September 14, 2022 Tom Raftery / Ed McGinnis Season 1 Episode 87
Circular Economy And Nuclear Energy - A Chat With Curio Legacy's Ed McGinnis
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Climate Confident
Circular Economy And Nuclear Energy - A Chat With Curio Legacy's Ed McGinnis
Sep 14, 2022 Season 1 Episode 87
Tom Raftery / Ed McGinnis

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Nuclear power can potentially help reduce the emissions associated with power generation. However, there are well known issues with nuclear - primarily its cost, the time to develop a nuclear power plant, and the highly radioactive waste it generates.

Curio is a hugely ambitious company working to tackle two of these three problems.

I invited Ed McGinnis, Curio's CEO  to come on the podcast to tell me more. We had a cool conversation discussing the problems in the nuclear industry today, the innovative solutions Curio has come up with to solve these problems, and the products Curio are producing from the nuclear waste stream.

This was a truly fascinating episode of the podcast and I learned loads as always, and I hope you do too.

If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to leave me a voice message on my SpeakPipe page, head on over to the Climate 21 Podcast Forum, or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Sustainability solutions, head over to www.sap.com/sustainability, and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover the show. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

Music credit - Intro and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played, and produced by my daughter

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And remember you too can Support the Podcast - it is really easy and hugely important as it will enable me to continue to create more excellent Climate Confident episodes like this one.

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Music credits - Intro by Joseph McDade, and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played, and produced by my daughter Luna Juniper

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send me a message

Nuclear power can potentially help reduce the emissions associated with power generation. However, there are well known issues with nuclear - primarily its cost, the time to develop a nuclear power plant, and the highly radioactive waste it generates.

Curio is a hugely ambitious company working to tackle two of these three problems.

I invited Ed McGinnis, Curio's CEO  to come on the podcast to tell me more. We had a cool conversation discussing the problems in the nuclear industry today, the innovative solutions Curio has come up with to solve these problems, and the products Curio are producing from the nuclear waste stream.

This was a truly fascinating episode of the podcast and I learned loads as always, and I hope you do too.

If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - feel free to leave me a voice message on my SpeakPipe page, head on over to the Climate 21 Podcast Forum, or just send it to me as a direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn. Audio messages will get played (unless you specifically ask me not to).

And if you want to know more about any of SAP's Sustainability solutions, head over to www.sap.com/sustainability, and if you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover the show. Thanks.

And remember, stay healthy, stay safe, stay sane!

Music credit - Intro and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played, and produced by my daughter

What If? So What?
We discover what’s possible with digital and make it real in your business

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Podcast supporters
I'd like to sincerely thank this podcast's amazing supporters:

  • Lorcan Sheehan
  • Hal Good
  • Jerry Sweeney
  • Andreas Werner
  • Devaang Bhatt
  • Stephen Carroll
  • Marcel Roquette
  • Roger Arnold

And remember you too can Support the Podcast - it is really easy and hugely important as it will enable me to continue to create more excellent Climate Confident episodes like this one.

Contact
If you have any comments/suggestions or questions for the podcast - get in touch via direct message on Twitter/LinkedIn.

If you liked this show, please don't forget to rate and/or review it. It makes a big difference to help new people discover the show.

Credits
Music credits - Intro by Joseph McDade, and Outro music for this podcast was composed, played, and produced by my daughter Luna Juniper

Ed McGinnis:

The nuclear fuel that is run in a nuclear reactor when it comes out after about four and a half or five years in the US, only about 4% of that energy value has been used. 96% is still there ready to be repurposed recycled for medical, for new nuclear fuel, for space based power sources, fission based batteries, you name it. A plethora of opportunities where isotopes that are in this used nuclear fuel can be used and repurposed

Tom Raftery:

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening wherever you are in the world. This is the Climate 21 podcast, the number one podcast, showcasing best practices in climate emissions reductions, and I'm your host , Tom Raftery. Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast in your podcast app of choice, to be sure you don't miss any episodes. Hi everyone. Welcome to the climate 21 podcast. My name is Tom Raftery and with me on the show today, I have my special guest Ed, Ed welcome to the podcast. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Ed McGinnis:

Thank you very much, Tom. It's a pleasure to be here on your podcast. I'm Ed McGinnis. I'm currently the CEO of a nuclear technology, innovation and commercialization company known as Curio. I took over the company as CEO, the first CEO of this company, a startup company back in January. Prior to me assuming that role I worked for over 30 years within the US department of energy and various roles, the most recent ones were assistant secretary for nuclear energy acting for two and a half years. Prior to that deputy assistant secretary, where I ran all of the US nuclear energy cooperation, including work with our cooperation with Ukraine. And that was for about 11 years. And the most notable recent position was at the White House where I ran the president's Science and Technology Advisory Council.

Tom Raftery:

Superb superb. And this is the first Climate 21 episode, we're 80 something episodes in. And this is the first one where we've dealt with the nuclear industry. And it's always a bit controversial the nuclear industry. Some people are absolutely against nuclear. Some people are staunch pronuclear I kind of fall down in the middle I can see there are issues with nuclear. The two main issues that I see with nuclear are the fact that A it's expensive and it also takes a long time to develop a nuclear power plant and B, and this is gonna be a large part of our conversation today I think. and that is that it generates a lot of waste. Right?

Ed McGinnis:

Yes. I agree. That's the view. That's the perception, but as uh, many know perception may not be reality or perception could be based on pass backs that have changed. But nuclear energy, I am biased because I have worked in the nuclear field for most of my 30 years. The first half of my career was actually focused on counter proliferation, nuclear, non proliferation around the world to help make sure the materials are secure and not being used for the wrong purposes. But certainly I have been focused on supporting realizing the full potential of nuclear energy. But I do believe that there are so many things that the average individual is unaware of with regards to nuclear energy, from . A positive perspective. And there tends to be a focus on some of the most, recognizable negative incidents. Certainly those are important and we need to factor those in, but it really is important for folks to understand what nuclear energy does on a day to day basis for society in so many different ways.

Tom Raftery:

And Ed, you said Curio is a startup and you're in the nuclear space and you don't often hear of startups in the nuclear space. So can you tell us what well, why and what is Curio? What are you guys doing and why?

Ed McGinnis:

Well, the exciting thing is there are quite a few startups now in the United States. And I think it reflects the opportunity and times in the United States nuclear energy, where it is seen as a promising future. Startups don't invest in a sector, if certainly the investors, if they don't believe there is an opportunity for private sector roles and success. And right now we're in this, I think moment where the stars are in alignment politically, economically energy wise, geo strategic in a way I haven't seen in 30 years. That puts nuclear energy in the US and I can say in the most important position to transform itself for the next generation, the next nuclear era to really step up and bring in a new class of reactors, a new class of technology, a new approach to managing the fuel cycle. And there is growing bipartisan support. What is Curio? As indicated, it's a startup company that is focused on taking nuclear technologies in an innovative way and bringing those technologies to market for societal good. And our assessment when we looked at the ways by which Curio could most effectively support the expanded potential or the full potential of nuclear energy. We looked at advanced nuclear reactors. There are many quite a few advanced nuclear reactors, many startups in the US and overseas, but particularly in the US. And that's an important thing. We're really pleased to see how many advanced nuclear reactors are under design and development. We do have two advanced reactors that we're developing one, a molten salt reactor in the second one longer term is thorium based molten salt reactor, but we've decided that we are gonna focus on the area that needs the most attention that is getting the least amount of attention in our view, certainly in the US. And that is the back end, the nuclear waste problem. And as you said, the economics or the expenses. As you indicated before the reputation of nuclear energy in part it's too expensive and there's the waste problem. We in Curio are going at both of those issues because we believe neither one needs to be the case. We don't believe it needs to be too expensive. It's the way by which our business model is developed where we're not only gonna be into recycling materials, but maximum product extraction. That's key to making it economic among other things. But Curio decided that the back end, the nuclear waste problem is the biggest ball and chain holding back the US nuclear energy sector to realize its full potential. And so we decided to focus on the back end in particular we decided to look at whether or not we could develop a state of the art technology process, chemistry process, and nuclear recycling facility that could in an economic way, in a competitive way in environmentally sustainable way, recycle all of the United States spent nuclear fuel or so-called nuclear waste that has been discharged and continuing to be discharged by our fleet of 92 reactors that we have operating today. And the waste so-called waste that's been generated by previous reactors have there thus been shut down. So our business is recycling. Our business is taking what has been treated in our country primarily because of government policies going back originally to president Carter, where for geo strategic, for international national security reasons, it was decided to self-impose on its own sector, a restriction on reprocessing, the so-called nuclear waste. That was the beginning of what you see today, where we have now 86,000 or so metric tons of so-called waste. I call it, we call it a Curio used nuclear fuel because only about 4% of the energy value of the nuclear fuel that is run in a nuclear reactor when it comes out after about four and a half or five years in the US, only about 4% of that energy value has been used 96% is still there ready to be repurposed recycled for medical, for new nuclear fuel, for space based power sources, fission based batteries, you name it, a plethora of opportunities where isotopes that are in this used nuclear fuel can be used and repurposed. So we have decided to get into this market and get into it in a big way. We're not going to go small ball, as we say, we're not going to try and address part of the problem. We want to be a holistic solution to support an expanded full potential nuclear energy sector by deploying a compact one or two nuclear recycling facilities that has state of the art technologies and builds in some of the key priorities that we have found have been of challenges in the past. One to make sure that it's compact, highly efficient, semi-autonomous modular, not unlike the small modular reactors, modularity affords a lot of benefits, not only economics where you don't have to overcommit your capital before the market materializes. And what I mean by that, if you have a facility, our facility will be the size of about a football field, an American NFL football field, like soldier field or SoFi stadium. And that facility would consist of individual modules, three stories high or so in ground and each one of these modules will be independently operated. We'll have about 10 of them. The whole facility if we go with one, we'll have about a 4,000 metric ton capacity and that would consist again of about 10, 400 to 500 metric ton modules. Each module if whenever one needs to go down for maintenance, the others continue to operate. When we build the facility, let's say we don't have the market to support a 4,000 metric time processing a year operation immediately, let's say it's 1500 or let's say it's 2000 metric tons. Then we only build five of those modules at first and avoid committing capital and then, and hemorrhaging money because you're not putting it to work. So the modularity is very important. The semi-autonomous is very important. We're building in some of the latest sensors and semiautonomous aspects and also gravity fed processes, whereby you're gonna limit the need for human interaction with this highly radioactive process chemistry. You can also dramatically increase the security because you are ensuring that there are far fewer human access points. The semi offers the ability to be much more efficient from an economics perspective. So that's just a little taste of what Curio is doing right now and how we're going about it. And just lastly, I would say our approach is first of all, very sober. we walk into this with open eyes. We realize that it is arguably the most difficult of difficult challenges in the nuclear energy sector in the US. I E the waste problem, what to do with the waste. As you know, we have right now, the nuclear waste fund that has been collected to pay for disposal by the federal government of our nation's nuclear waste is only allowed for Yucca Mountain. The deep geologic repository in Nevada. And I think it's pretty clear to all that is politically unworkable by both parties. So whatever happens it's an all likelihood not going to be Yucca mountain. So we have a major problem and we need a solution to it. And our view is we're going into an completely different world where companies and sectors cannot any longer get away with minimum natural resource utilization and generating an enormous amount of waste and not taking the effort to minimize waste maximize resource utilization, especially when you're drawing from Mother Earth and mining, for example, uranium, we have an obligation solemn obligation when we extract the uranium to use to the maximum degree that uranium ore that we extracted. And we also have a solemn obligation to minimize the amount of waste that's discharged. And by recycling that's the future we believe. And that's a circular economy a recycling approach for nuclear energy, we believe is essential and we believe inevitable. So that's our approach and it's all about de-risking because we understand how difficult this is. And so we are going in eyes wide open, knowing that we need to de-risk and de-risk and the technical, political, economic, all facets, because many smart folks in institutions have tried and not succeeded in the US to recycle. And we aim to change that once. And for all.

Tom Raftery:

So, just to clarify you say that the used nuclear fuel when it's taken out of a nuclear reactor after four to five years still has 96% roughly of its energy in it. If that's the case, why is it taken out at that point?

Ed McGinnis:

It's taken out that point from a neutronics perspective. The US nuclear reactors or utilities would operate the fuel longer if they could at an efficient rate, but they're so called poisons and built up, daughter products in the fuel that is such where the operators do need to pull out the nuclear fuel after about four and a half to five years. Because it starts affecting a point performance among other things, but it doesn't mean that it can't be recycled for fresh nuclear fuel, that can go right back into that nuclear reactor, which is exactly what some other countries do. France does that every day. Russia does that. China is in a process of building up a large capacity to do that. The UK did that. Japan is in a process of doing that. This is known how to do this. And it is about as obvious, I believe as recycling plastics, even though we need to do more in recycling plastic.

Tom Raftery:

Why isn't it done in the US, if it is done in other countries?

Ed McGinnis:

Right. Like I said, for government policy reasons, primarily in the past, originally under president Carter, the decision by president Carter was that we were going to discontinue reprocessing because we were asking other countries around the world that are using, or thinking about using nuclear and thinking about building a complete so-called full fuel cycle to be able to enrich, and also recycle that material to try and convince them not to build the back end recycling capability, because there was concern that it could have dual use purpose and that it could be used nefariously. Let's say by a country undercover to divert the material for nuclear weapons unlisted nuclear weapons programs. That was back in the seventies though, a lot has changed safeguards, but design that our facility has the security that we have now, the tracking, the monitoring and the world has dramatically changed since that decision faithful decision by president Carter to say, okay, I get it. We have to leave by example in the US. And we need to just self-impose a moratorium and stop. And if we stop reprocessing, we have a better chance of convincing other countries to not pursue reprocessing. Well, how has that worked out for

Tom Raftery:

Mm,

Ed McGinnis:

Arguably, not very well. You never know, it could have been more, but certainly there are countries that are reprocessing that weren't reprocessing back in the seventies. And so our view is we absolutely can build in strong safeguards and security by design, and we have that in our system. And one thing that separates us dramatically from the current reprocessing technologies, which we are not building in ourselves here, we are intentionally developing a different type of reprocessing or recycling process than what is being done in France and in Russia and China and others in two ways. One is we never separate out a pure stream of plutonium as part of our process, when we repurpose this used nuclear fuel into new products, like more nuclear fuel, we always keep the plutonium commingled with other highly radioactive isotopes that serve as essentially a self protecting security barrier to anybody who wanted to get to it. But if you separate alpha plutonium, which is the current process in France and other countries, you end up accumulating large stockpiles of pure plutonium, which is a security issue for diversion certainly is well secured in France, but still the idea that you are using a process and this back all the way back from the fifties and earlier emanating from the Manhattan project. So the second part of what distinguishes us is that we are not using an acid liquid based process. It's called an aqueous process. And the overall process that France and Japan and Russian others use is called Purex hence separation of plutonium, and then reusing that plutonium. For example, in what's called a Mox fuel. It's a combination of uranium and plutonium, but even then, and that's pretty much all they're repurposing. And they are pulling out the plutonium. We are not separating plutonium and we're not using what they use, which is an acid based liquid based process. And the problem with the acid based liquid based process, as you're ironically repurposing and recycling, you're generating a lot more high level radioactive materials in the form of liquid. So in Washington state, the world's largest environmental cleanup project. Coming out of the height of the cold war and going all the way back to the early fifties, the largest amount I believe of waste that is still there is that liquid acid based high level radioactive materials waste that are sitting in these large tanks And they're trying to figure out what to do with it. Our process doesn't use that. We're building in lessons learned. Ours is gonna be largely a dry process. A gaseous extraction process and it's all, what's called like a pyro process heat and the application of heat and a dry process largely. And then at, towards the second half of the stage, we use a molten salt, which is much more manageable and we reduce like a reductive extraction process to extract the remaining products, but in our process, we're extracting at least five different products. One is nuclear fuel and three different types. Current reactors, also this new fuel called ha Lou highest, a L E U. It's a higher form of enriched fuel that is needed by certain advanced reactor startups that are coming into market. And then the advanced nuclear fuel that can burn this so-called nuclear waste. Plutonium and other transuranics as fuel itself, bill gates was developing one called the traveling wave reactor. They've transitioned from that into a new one called natrium, but certain fast reactors can actually consume this waste, so called waste and use it as fuel among other things. So, I'm not sure if that fully answered your question, but it there's a lot going on in nuclear. That's the challenge and it can cause people to glaze over and, think that it's too much. It's too complicated. Not worth delving into, but if I can understand it, anybody can understand it. So it actually is quite understandable. Just takes a little bit of time to get through the fog of various types of factual and non-factual information.

Tom Raftery:

Sure if I heard you correctly I think you said there's around 86,000 tons of used nuclear fuel in the US alone right now. And that's obviously highly radioactive. What you're saying is that you can take this. 86,000 metric tons, plus all the other metric tons that become waste every single year from these fleet of 92 reactors that the US has and convert them into less radioactive usable products. Is that the gist of it?

Ed McGinnis:

Exactly. And so just a little more detail on that. About 86,000 metric tons at 75 locations, most of which are where nuclear reactors are or currently, or where previously, and have been shut down stranded because a federal government has not been able or not found a way to pick up that material, even though it was legally bound to do that. And about 35 states. So 75 locations in about 35 states every year, we're adding about 2000 metric tons. On top of that stockpile, our facility. We plan to have a pilot facility operating by about 2028. It will be able to process between 100 and 400 metric tons a year. Then by 2035, approximately we plan to have our first state of the art full commercial recycling facility at 4,000 metric tons. And what that means at 4,000 metric tons a year is that we could have all of our nations used nuclear fuel recycled for different products for society. And then the remaining unusable streams disposed of within about 30 years. That may sound like a long time, but from a nuclear perspective, it is not a typical nuclear reactor in the US now operates 60 years. And I use nuclear fuel. We're looking at with the Yucca Mountain. They were looking at a 10,000 year regulatory demonstrated requirement and out to a million years. So we think some a facility that can be up and running by 2035 and literally. Literally address and recycle all of our nations used nuclear fuel within about 30 years done with in a very efficient way by the private sector where we're not relying on more taxpayer dollars, which most other plans would, we think that's the way to go. And so this facility, we are looking at whether to have it in one location or two we're in the process of speaking with states, right now, but the facility will essentially be two business models. One will be, it'll be the disposition pathway. For our nations use nuclear fuel. We would take title from the federal government, from the utilities actually, or the federal government right now, the title is with the utilities of the used nuclear fuel. We would take it and they would never have to see it again, once we recycle that material because we're taking a maximum recycling approach. We would, at the end of the day, after we re recycle all this material we estimate we will have at most only about 4% of the original high level radioactive material remaining. And not only that it will be in a isotopic set of form that will only need to be securely stored for about 300 years. Again only, but it's relative compared to much better than 10,000 or a million years.

Tom Raftery:

So that 2000 tons a year becomes 80 tons a year. That needs to be stored

Ed McGinnis:

At most, and the reason and we want to always be fully transparent, and we make great efforts to do that. And so we always remind our constituents and our stakeholders. There will be three streams to deal with from this recycling. We will have the high level radioactive materials stream, and yes, it will be at most about, we believe only about 4% of the original, and that's the most difficult part to really store and deal with. Hence Yucca Mountain and challenges there. Then you will have an intermediate level stream of waste, and then you'll have low level waste. When we say low level it's things, as basic as the clothing that a reactor recycling facility operator wore. And if it had, uh, material on it, then you would throw that away or typically you do. And so those contaminated clothings, even that is disposed of as low level waste, but the intermediate and low level are exponentially easier to deal with. And when you're talking about only 4% of the originals, that's a huge deal as well. You're going from a 10,000 year or a million year problem to a 300 year problem at most of a dramatically less volume. And the last point is the reason why I set up most 4% is we're an innovation company. What we're doing is looking to put as much of this used nuclear fuel in these radio isotopes to societal good through commercialization and we continue to engage with companies or have companies reach out to us now that they're aware of us and ask us what type of isotopes we are going to be processing and extracting. And what type of isotopes are in this largest stockpile of used nuclear fuel in the world. And that's what our job is our business to know what's in there and how to extract it. And so we saw that remaining 4% of high level radioactive material that we would not be able to repurpose. We're starting to see that's not even correct. We've had, for example, advanced battery companies, nano diamond battery companies. For example, a company out of Silicon valley startup company called NDB we're in partnership with them. We're in partnership with another advanced battery company. And they have these novel batteries as I mentioned, that are poised to disrupt the battery market as we know it, starting with that with the small scale nano, like for your watch or something, even smaller and using strontium 90, for example. Strontium 90 at large scales is not readily available in the market and not at the scale they're gonna need. And we in our recycling process would extract large volumes of strontium 90. And guess where the strontium 90 volumes were. It's gonna be in that 4% of that high level radioactive waste that we thought was not gonna be used. They're saying, wait, wait, wait, wait, stop. Don't throw that away. Let's put a contract together. We want to put together an agreement for an offtake for large quantities. Suddenly it may not even be 4% because strontium 90 and Caesium 1 37, Caesium 1 37, another product that may be have a market demand. If you extract those out of that 4%, you might be left with only about two to 1% of the high level radioactive material. We are going to have some level of high level of radioactive material to store on a long term basis on a 300 year basis. It's the question of whether it's about 4% or maybe two or 1%. The whole point is coming up with innovative ways. Unleashed the private sector, let the private sector come in. And 30 years in government, trust me, I'm familiar with what the federal government is good at and what is not good at. Our strength is not being entrepreneurs. To come up with the most cost effective minimum overhead, maximum, entrepreneurial, models that's best done by the private sector. We have some of the world's top R and D facilities. Our national labs. We do better than anyone, but for coming up with innovative ways like Elon Musk did with SpaceX and totally disrupting the space market is optimally done in a private sector, like companies like mine.

Tom Raftery:

And so Ed, you've mentioned that the recycling of this used nuclear fuel will produce more fuel that can be used by different utilities in their nuclear power plants. What other products are going to be produced using this recycling process?

Ed McGinnis:

So thanks. That's a very important point. The different products beyond a primary product, which is extracting uranium the used nuclear fuel that will then be put back into the enrichment and fuel production process that will then go into nuclear reactors that are operating today. And for example, I don't know if I mentioned, but we just recently announced a partnership with one US nuclear utility Energy Northwest, and they've announced their intent to offtake our uranium. That will then be repurposed into lightwater, low and rich uranium fuel for their nuclear reactor Columbia generation station. So in addition to the uranium extracted, For leu fuel and halo fuel. And then in addition to the plutonium and other transuranics, that will be repurposed for a third part of that nuclear fuel category for advanced reactors. We have other important markets now that are definitely pulling on our product and showing intent for demand. One is neptunium 2 37. Which is a precursor, if you will, chemically radio isotope wise to a plutonium 2 38 product, plutonium 2 38, as I mentioned, is typically used for power sources, space based missions. Again, Voyager one, Voyager, two Mars a plethora of other moon based power sources others. They're referred to as either radiological or the electric generators RTGS or other types of acronyms and terminology, but they're power sources. And that power source is generally plutonium, 2 38. And the precursors to that is a neptunium 2 37. We will extract in neptunium 2 37 as to the feed stock for that supply chain. Or that demand that we think is going to dramatically increase in the future, whether SpaceX at others, there's gonna be a much greater demand for plutonium 2 38. So that's a second space based power sources. Also with regards to medical and other industrial radio isotopes, krypton 85, for example, that is in very strong demand and there are only a few suppliers. And so what we are planning to do, and we already have agreements with off takers intend to purchase these the krypton 85 from us at large volumes that can be used for industrial well logging and other sources and applications. It can be used for medical like imaging And krypton 85 is very well known for identifying leaks. And so that can be an industrial, even national security purpose. Krypton 85 is an important product for industrial and medical. And there are other isotopes that we're gonna be extracting for medical purposes and industrial purposes as well. And, uh, at the end of the day, we have nuclear fuel, space based power sources, transformational batteries, medical isotopes, and industrial. It'll probably be more in the future that we have not even anticipated, but that's the beauty of the incredible multipurpose multi application potential for radio isotopes and the radio isotopes that are in resonant in our use nuclear fuel right now. Tom Raftery: Okay, so you're taking waste problem that they've had on their hand for decades, you're taking that used nuclear fuel, converting it to products that can be used in different industries selling that on. Obviously you're not doing it for charity, selling it on you're left with maybe 80 maximum tons out of 2000 a year could be as low as 20 of waste. In this case, which now only needs to be stored for 300 instead of 10,000 years. So massively reducing the waste problem, being paid to take the waste from the utility companies and then selling the products that you're creating from that waste. It sounds like an ideal business model. I gotta tell you Well, first of all, I'm impressed because you've articulated it probably better than I. And you're just hearing this for the first time. So kudos to you, but no, seriously, we, different companies are formed for different reasons. And the company, one reason why I left my federal government position, it was the senior or a very senior government position with no mandatory retirement. I did not have to retire, but when I saw the vision of this company where they wanted do, not only something that it has great business opportunity, but is good for the environment. It's good for society. some people describe philanthropic organizations as impact investors. They're looking more than just trying to make money. They want, yes, they wanna make money, but they wanna make money in a way that is good for society. And in the nuclear sector, I can't think of in 30 years being a part of this, I cannot think of anything more important to the environment with regards to nuclear, to society, whether it's medical life saving cancer industrial space based power sources, clean nuclear energy to fight, climate change, the jobs that come with the generational high paying jobs. The security that we bring into it with our process. I can't think of anything more important than solving the nuclear waste problem by taking what we have artificially described. Not scientifically, it is not a correct as scientifically described the use nuclear fuel as waste. It is a policy. It's an artifact of policy that says it's waste. I've worked with nuclear engineers, most of my career, and the default obvious view of just about any nuclear engineer I've worked with is, well, of course, you're gonna use it more than once. Of course, you're going to not just run it through a reactor once because you haven't used, anywhere near the full energy potential. Assistant secretary, Katie Huff. And I'm very impressed by her work. I think she's doing a great job. She's appointed by president Biden as the assistant secretary for nuclear energy, doing a great job. And she was, recently publicly quoted as, I'll paraphrase it as saying when asked about the backend, the nuclear waste problem and whether we should recycle or not, she said. A policy that has the used nuclear fuel being buried or spent nuclear fuel being buried with only 4% of the energy value utilized is a policy that needs to be re looked at

Tom Raftery:

Mm.

Ed McGinnis:

and I'm paraphrasing, but, and her point was also, she believed that the majority of Americans are open and receptive to the idea recycling. I would go even a step further to say I actually am hard pressed to see a future where the US nuclear energy is viable and thriving if we try to remain the industry we are now. How can we be a part of a future where our natural resources are becoming more and more depleted. We have tremendous challenges with climate change and others. We have population increasing resources more in demand ever before. And how could we expect to be a viable, thriving nuclear industry if we mine uranium out of the ground, we only use 4% of it after running it through a reactor when we pull it out of the reactor after four and a half to five years, it's arguably at one of the highest levels of radio toxicity in the existence of that u sed nuclear fuel And then at that point, we decide to bury it. That is not a winning proposition and that is not a circular economy approach that we need to show to get back the confidence of the American public. To show that we are really doing everything we can to reduce impact and maximize value. We need to recycle so that we're not trying to convince the public to accept a proposition where we're only using 4% of the energy value. We're trying to talk a state into accepting, burying material at its one of its highest levels of radio toxicity. When you have 96% of the energy value still there. And oh, by the way, not a 300 year proposition, but for 10,000 years or a million years beyond, it's hard to even fathom what society would civilization would be like. So to me, it's a no brainer that we need to go back to reciting and we need to really unleash the nuclear, the private sector to go at this the way we've seen electric vehicles and Tesla, the way we've seen space X and the space industry innovate the way we've seen Amazon the way we've seen others. So that's the key and that's, I think the future, and that's why I'm so optimistic because I don't believe we really have a choice. And the more we commit to nuclear in the US and which is happening right now in historic levels by the federal government with multi billion dollar public private partnering. With some of these nuclear reactor companies, some of which are startups. The more we commit to that and the more both parties recognize that nuclear absolutely is needed to deal with existential threats from climate to energy security, to geo strategic I'm optimistic the more we will go towards and land on a recycling circular economy approach for nuclear energy.

Tom Raftery:

We're coming towards the end of the podcast. Now, if people want to know more about yourself or Curio or any of the topics we discussed in the podcast today, where would you have me direct them?

Ed McGinnis:

Oh, yes. First of all, you can check out our website Curio solutions. So that's one one only needs to google Curio or in even my name McGinnis, you'll see quite a bit out there from joint press releases with key partners to the latest happenings on our activities and our ambitious plans And so we, there's quite a bit of information already out there. We are startup. We do have proprietary information which is reasonable considering we're jumping in with, some pretty big fish in this nuclear sector pond. And, but we're excited about disrupting in a very positive way. And I'm really excited to give you just a sense that, you know, before we finish. We're a small company, but we've had nuclear engineers and others uproot their entire lives and move to Washington to come in every day here in this office to make history. And that word is, those words are used quite a bit here. it is ambitious. We know what we're dealing with, but we also believe this is worth going at. We want to be able to look back at the end of our career. And see that we were a pivotal aspect of really transforming the nuclear technology and energy sector, as we know it.

Tom Raftery:

Cool. Cool. Ed. That's been really, really interesting. Thanks a million for coming on the podcast today.

Ed McGinnis:

It's my pleasure. Thank you as well Tom.

Tom Raftery:

Okay, we've come to the end of the show. Thanks everyone for listening. If you'd like to know more about Climate 21, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. If you liked the show, please don't forget to subscribe to it in your podcast application of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're published. Also, please don't forget to rate and review the podcast. It really does help new people to find the show. Thanks catch you all next time.

(Cont.) Circular Economy And Nuclear Energy - A Chat With Curio Legacy's Ed McGinnis

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