Finnish Government Approves Nuclear Waste Facility
The Finnish government has granted a license to construct a spent nuclear fuel encapsulation plant and disposal facility, one of the first in the world. Construction work can begin before the end of 2016, with the facility slated for operation in 2023. The waste repository will be built in granite bedrock on an island in western Finland some five kilometers from an existing nuclear power plant. Excavation of an access tunnel began in 2004 and eventually reached 455 meters, enabling engineers to study the rock's geology, hydrology and geochemistry. The repository is based on a method of nuclear waste burial that involves packing the spent nuclear fuel inside copper and cast iron canisters at an encapsulation plant. From there they may be moved into tunnels at a depth of 400–450 meters. The tunnels are lined with bentonite clay designed to protect the canisters from potential jolts in the bedrock.
SpaceX to Transport Astronauts to ISS
The U.S. space agency NASA has ordered a crewed mission to be launched by SpaceX to the International Space Station sometime in late 2017. The order is the first for the company founded by Elon Musk. This is the second in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under its Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contracts. Boeing received its first crew mission order in May. Since the retirement of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, the U.S. has had no ability to transport astronauts to the space station and has relied on Russian spacecraft for this purpose at an ever-increasing cost—almost $82 million per seat for the next two years, according to NASA.
Researchers Implant Electronics in a Flower
Swedish scientists have used semi-conductive polymers to create analog and digital electronic circuits inside living flowers. The innovation could pave the way to regulate plant physiology or even harness energy from photosynthesis to produce electricity. Traditional electronics send and process electronic signals, while plants transport and handle ions and growth hormones. Organic electronics could allow for regulation of plant growth and development. Potentially, engineers will be able to influence the concentration of the various substances in the plant that regulate growth and development.