Curio, led by Energy Dept. veteran, intends to recycle hazardous waste

Ed McGinnis, CEO of Curio.

Photo courtesy Curio.

Ed McGinnis understands a lot about the hazardous waste issue in the United States. He operated in U.S. Department of Energy from 1991 to 2021 and dealt straight with the U.S. federal government’s unsuccessful effort to construct a hazardous waste repository in Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

“I certainly have the tire tracks on my back” from attempting to lead the United States to establish and perform a long-lasting storage prepare for hazardous waste, McGinnis informed CNBC in a telephone call in June.

“Essentially, both parties have said it’s politically unworkable” to discover an irreversible service, McGinnis informed CNBC. “But during the meantime, we have a huge, huge unresolved problem representing pretty much the largest ball and chain on the ankle of the U.S. nuclear energy sector that’s trying to transition itself for the next generation of reactors.”

This undated image gotten 22 February, 2004 reveals the entryway to the Yucca Mountain hazardous waste repository situated in Nye County, Nevada, about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

AFP | AFP | Getty Images

McGinnis no longer works for the federal government, however he is still working to resolve the hazardous waste issue at the helm of a start-up called Curio, established in 2020 by siblings Yechezkel and Yehudah Moskowitz as part of their financial investment holding business, Synergos Holdings.

The siblings established Curio to establish next-generation sophisticated atomic power plants. After some research study, they chose there were currently numerous business innovating because area, however far less competitors to handle the hazardous waste issue.

The United States creates about 2,000 metric lots of brand-new hazardous waste annually, contributing to the roughly 86,000 loads that are currently produced. Reprocessing hazardous waste is one method to make it less radioactive, however there’s just sufficient capability on the planet to recycle 2,400 loads annually, and the majority of that remains in France (1,700 metric loads) and Russia (400 metric loads).

The pre-revenue, ten-person start-up is still in the extremely early phases of a capital-intensive, long-lasting construct out. But it intends to have a pilot center up and running in 6 years and a business hazardous waste reprocessing center up and running by 2035, McGinnis informed CNBC.

Curio’s industrial plant will have a capability of 4,000 metric loads when completely developed out. It will cost $5 billion to construct and it will have to do with the size of an NFL football arena.

“We would take title of all 86,000 metric tons and the federal government and the public would never see that high level radioactive material on their books again, we would take the burden of it,” McGinnis stated. “And we would take trash and turn it into products and treasures. That’s our business line.”

Ed McGinnis, CEO of Curio.

Photo courtesy Curio

Turning garbage into treasure

Calling the fuel that comes out of standard reactors waste is a misnomer, according to McGinnis, since just 4% of the possible energy worth has actually been utilized. But it threatens, with sufficient radiation to hurt human beings for roughly a million years.

Curio has actually established a chemical procedure it calls NuCycle to turn hazardous waste into functional items, like fuel for sophisticated atomic power plants, in addition to isotopes that can be utilized for other functions, such as producing active ingredients to make source of power for area objectives, and source of power for small batteries.

The procedure decreases the quantity of radioactive waste less than 4% of what it began with. That waste would need just about 300 years of storage, McGinnis informed CNBC.

“There is essentially a treasure trove of products and commodities that are waiting to be extracted from this so called waste.”

“There is essentially a treasure trove of products and commodities that are waiting to be extracted from this so called waste,” McGinnis informed CNBC.

Right now, Curio is “refining and validating the chemistry,” McGinnis stated. Some of that work includes teaming up with researchers at the nationwide laboratories around the nation, however those collaborations remain in extremely early phases.

Critically, Curio’s innovation will be various from an existing procedure called PUREX (plutonium uranium decrease extraction), “which among other things separates and extracts plutonium in a pure stream,” which can be an issue under nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaties.

“We have a process where we never separate out pure plutonium,” McGinnis stated. “We’re never going to do that because we want to have a proliferation security-hardened process. We have self-protection built in.”

Jim Geary, center supervisor at the Waste Receiving and Processing center (WARP), examines a delivery of 3 TRUPACT transportation containers on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation June 30, 2005 near Richland, Washington. Each container holds 14 55-gallon drums of transuranic (TRU) waste that has actually been processed and will be sent out to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico.

Jeff T. Green | Getty Images News | Getty Images

One of the most tough elements of handling hazardous waste is persuading regional neighborhood members to accept a center in their yard. “Public communication is very, very important,” McGinnis stated.

Curio stated it is engaged with several states about finding its center there however decreased to call them. But he thinks the economics would be valuable for numerous regional neighborhoods. “A facility like ours would employ well over 3,000 full time, well paid jobs,” McGinnis stated.

McGinnis likewise states settlements for a recycling center are going to be simpler than those that are for an irreversible repository.

“I led efforts meeting with states trying to convince them of why they should accept material that’s going to be there for 10,000 years. That’s a very, very difficult thing,” McGinnis stated. “And I can understand why the NIMBY communities see that as a big issue. But again, this is apples and oranges.” (NIMBY is an anacronym for “not in my back yard.”)

What independent specialists are stating

The U.S. requires to check out brand-new and ingenious innovations resolve its hazardous waste issue, Steve Nesbit, the previous president of the American Nuclear Society, informed CNBC.

“When advanced reactors get going, it makes more sense (to me) to develop and deploy recycling for those materials,” he informed CNBC. It’s possible to recycle waste and put some components of that recycled waste back into the existing fleet of atomic power plants, however “it is better suited for some advanced reactor designs,” he informed CNBC.

He stated he “certainly” understands McGinnis, however included “Curio is keeping its cards pretty close to the vest, for now.”

Curio’s objectives are powerful, stated Ashutosh Goel, a Rutgers teacher who has actually studied on handling hazardous waste with a procedure called “immobilization.”

“Yes, what Curio is targeting is ambitious. However, isn’t that the case with anything in nuclear energy?” Goel informed CNBC. “If we are serious about reducing the carbon footprint and still meeting the energy demands of the nation, we cannot accomplish this goal without nuclear energy.”

Goal does not understand Curio or McGinnis personally however knows them expertly. “Ed is a well-known leader in the field of nuclear energy, thanks to his leadership roles in the US Department of Energy. Therefore, I am hoping for positive things from Curio,” Goel stated.

Curio is making wise actions early on, according to Ben Cipiti, a nuclear engineer at Sandia National Labs, that is dealing with a proposition for an government grant with Curio.

“I see Curio as having a good shot at making progress in this area since their approach utilizes lessons learned from the past,” Cipiti informed CNBC. “They’re partnering with national laboratories to take advantage of the latest research and development and the wide variety of expertise required to be successful in this area.”

If Curio succeeds, the work might be transformational for the market as a whole.

“Once we solve this, in my humble opinion, I think it it Tesla-fies the nuclear industry in a way we’ve never seen, because it’s such a heavy ball and chain on on the nuclear sector — it affects public opinion, acceptance, economics, investors,” McGinnis stated. “So when we finally show a no nonsense, thoughtful solution to the back end, that’s when the nuclear energy sector takes off in my view.”


News and digital media editor, writer, and communications specialist. Passionate about social justice, equity, and wellness. Covering the news, viewing it differently.

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