Large-scale transmutation utilizes a source of high-energy neutrons capable of physically breaking up long-lived isotopes into shorter-lived fragments. We are also investigating the possibility of using this process to convert unusable or low-value nuclear materials, such as spent nuclear fuel, into higher-value materials, such as stable earth metals and isotopes.
Nuclear decay will reduce even highly radioactive waste into inert material—eventually. By bombarding high-level waste with neutrons to alter its composition, an intensely radioactive material with a half-life of hundreds of thousands of years can be transformed into low-level nuclear waste that can be more easily stored without risking environmental damage or health issues and lack the onerous burden of thousands of years of storage. Eventually, the end goal is that through nuclear transmutation, the long-lived radioactive waste is rendered either largely harmless or largely inert.