Why Don't We Shoot Garbage Into The Sun?

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It's funny how this question keeps coming up every few years. I remember my father giving me the short and dirty answer 25 years ago...."you know how much that would cost?"

But even then, the Sun is 93 million miles away, and you’d still need an enormous amount of (expensive) fuel to get the rocket to plummet into the Sun if you took the direct route. Pontzen reckons that, unless you plan the mission very carefully, you’d need about 10 times more energy for the trip between Earth and the Sun’s surface than you’d already spent getting into orbit.
 

Seventyfive

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We could pay for it, just tax the 1% and add it to Bernie's wish list. Then we can make memes with pictures of trash and say "feel the Bern". Then when people say it's not possible just accuse them of defending the ultra rich 1% and the shadowy alliance of global bankers.
 

kbrickley

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If we ever establish a permanent high population presence in space (orbital colony, moon colony, space mining, etc) then this might become a viable option. For now, except for waste that is so dangerous and hard to get rid of that the cost is justified, this would make little financial sense.
 

Zigmorph

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From what I've read in the past, most of the cost associated with getting things into space is the trip out of the atmosphere. Make that trip cheaper and this might be a possibility. There's been talks of using bucky balls( carbon nanotubes) to make a "space bridge" if you will. Exciting times we live in!
 

ShagnWagn

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Should not shoot it to the sun. Eentually Earth will run out of resources in nature. Garbage dumps will be worth more than gold mines. If we are even allowed to stay around that long (the end times).
 

NeghVar

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Does any type of railgun technology exist which could propel a large canister fast enough and far enough to escape earth's gravitational field?
 

lcpiper

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If we ever establish a permanent high population presence in space (orbital colony, moon colony, space mining, etc) then this might become a viable option. For now, except for waste that is so dangerous and hard to get rid of that the cost is justified, this would make little financial sense.


Fusion Reators, Railguns, and really good trash compactors (y)


No, look, I think there is a lot of room there for improving recycling processes. Why not do distributed recycling instead of driving trucks around town to pick it up and transport it to the plants?

Develop serious at home recycling appliances where waste is broken down into several product/material catagories and "boxed" for transfer. You can then drop off the "material cubes" yourself for added savings or sign up for home pickup if you don't mind paying for it.

Wood pulp type products, are easy right? Paper, yesterday's mail, milk cartons, etc go into one bin.

Food stuffs and bone, etc into another bin.

Metals, caps/lids from jars, wine bottle caps for the Boone's Farm crowd, into the metals bin.

Even electronic components like circuit board could go into a bin for some level of pre-proccessing.

When there is enough material in a given bin the recycler goes to work and spits out "material cubes" for you to have picked up or delivered yourself.

The sooner in the refuse handling business you sort and deal with this stuff the cheaper it is for everyone I would think.
 

nilepez

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Build lifts to take them out of our atmosphere and then hurl the stuff at Venus. That planet's already fucked ;)
Should not shoot it to the sun. Eentually Earth will run out of resources in nature. Garbage dumps will be worth more than gold mines. If we are even allowed to stay around that long (the end times).
If we haven't figured out how to go to other planet's by then, we're not gonna make it....but that's a problem for my children's children's children's ...... children
 

heatlesssun

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Yeah, it's simply too expensive and a lot of risk depending on the waste, rockets are known to blow up now and then.
 

nilepez

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Fusion Reators, Railguns, and really good trash compactors (y)


No, look, I think there is a lot of room there for improving recycling processes. Why not do distributed recycling instead of driving trucks around town to pick it up and transport it to the plants?

Develop serious at home recycling appliances where waste is broken down into several product/material catagories and "boxed" for transfer. You can then drop off the "material cubes" yourself for added savings or sign up for home pickup if you don't mind paying for it.

Wood pulp type products, are easy right? Paper, yesterday's mail, milk cartons, etc go into one bin.

Food stuffs and bone, etc into another bin.

Metals, caps/lids from jars, wine bottle caps for the Boone's Farm crowd, into the metals bin.

Even electronic components like circuit board could go into a bin for some level of pre-proccessing.

When there is enough material in a given bin the recycler goes to work and spits out "material cubes" for you to have picked up or delivered yourself.

The sooner in the refuse handling business you sort and deal with this stuff the cheaper it is for everyone I would think.
I agree, but apparently the reason so much recycling is a single bin is because people weren't willing to sort it into Paper, Glass/Plastic, Metal. I'm old, so I remember taking stuff to a recycling pick up place and having to sort Glass by color. Never underestimate the laziness of people.

That said, if you increased the cost of garbage enough, then maybe people would be willing to do what you're suggesting. I'm 100% for recycling as much as possible. Composting would be good too.
 

DukenukemX

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Simply because sending 1 pound of anything to space costs thousands. Maybe the space elevator is most cost effective but it's still cheaper to just burn it.
 
D

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From what I've read in the past, most of the cost associated with getting things into space is the trip out of the atmosphere. Make that trip cheaper and this might be a possibility. There's been talks of using bucky balls( carbon nanotubes) to make a "space bridge" if you will. Exciting times we live in!

Even if we could get a space elevator working, what keeps things in orbit is the horizontal velocity. (You know that pesky centrifugal force equation) g = .5V*V/r...just getting up there isn't enough as gravity still exist. So that pesky reduced (but still existent gravity) is where a lot of the fuel is wasted. So that wonderful pipe dream of a space elevator is useless for maintaining orbit once you get there. And getting out of orbit is a whole nother' ball of wax.
 
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Simply because sending 1 pound of anything to space costs thousands. Maybe the space elevator is most cost effective but it's still cheaper to just burn it.

Sometimes hundreds of thousands.
 

lcpiper

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Build lifts to take them out of our atmosphere and then hurl the stuff at Venus. That planet's already fucked ;)

If we haven't figured out how to go to other planet's by then, we're not gonna make it....but that's a problem for my children's children's children's ...... children

Where's my link to that 2525 song? :arghh:


I'm wondering, why sort anything, just drop it into the bin that breaks everything down to it's most basic elemental molecular level, the periodic table. Develop a method that separates the different molecules and off it all goes. In neat little containers, small, the size Tylanol caplets, dumped into your sewer line to be transported to the refuse facility where it's all collected, sorted, and dealt with.

What's wrong with that one?
 
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Zigmorph

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Even if we could get a space elevator working, what keeps things in orbit is the horizontal velocity. (You know that pesky centrifugal force equation) g = .5V*V/r...just getting up there isn't enough as gravity still exist. So that pesky reduced (but still existent gravity) is where a lot of the fuel is wasted. So that wonderful pipe dream of a space elevator is useless for maintaining orbit once you get there. And getting out of orbit is a whole nother' ball of wax.

Spot on! But it certainly is a nice pipe dream :)

It will be interesting to see if they figure any of this out in my lifetime.
 

Quix

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Why would we want to? It would just miss and then circle back and hit the earth at a future date and cover New New York with garbage.
 

Gigus Fire

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Sigh,
It's because earth has a finite number of resources and trash can be recycled and reused.
There is nothing that can't be recycled.
Even nuclear waste can be used in a fast reactor to utilize 97% of the waste into usable energy.
Once we have nanobots that can disassemble trash into it's base components, people who are sitting on junk yards will be sitting on gold. Staten island will become a gold mine.
 

Ur_Mom

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There needs to be more work in finding ways to recycle trash. Break it down into reusable materials.

Too expensive just to take out the trash. It's expensive to figure out how to recycle some of it, but it's less than a space program designed to toss it into the sun....
 

lcpiper

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Yes, were hitting on a common theme here.

Personnally my idea of using the existing sewage system to transport the garbage to central processing is sounding brilliant in and of itself.

The question becomes, how do we turn an empty vinegar bottle into something that can be flushed down the pipes in an efficient manner?

Along with an empty envelop, a pen that doesn't write, a coffee maker that stopped working, my socks with holes in them that my wife is throwing out and they just started getting comfortable.
 

emmjawsX

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I guess it could make a neat kerbal space program mission at least

Edit: Just beaten by Gweenz to the first KSP reference :p
 

NeghVar

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Perfect recycling would be to be able to break things down and isolate protons, neutron and electrons. Or at least into the atoms. Then reassemble into whatever is needed. How about a carbon extractor? Extract carbon from all waste and contain it for use as a building material for nanotubes or buildings. Innovations - Carbon Fiber Trusses & Beams
 

Dekoth-E-

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Fusion Reators, Railguns, and really good trash compactors (y)


No, look, I think there is a lot of room there for improving recycling processes. Why not do distributed recycling instead of driving trucks around town to pick it up and transport it to the plants?

Develop serious at home recycling appliances where waste is broken down into several product/material catagories and "boxed" for transfer. You can then drop off the "material cubes" yourself for added savings or sign up for home pickup if you don't mind paying for it.

Wood pulp type products, are easy right? Paper, yesterday's mail, milk cartons, etc go into one bin.

Food stuffs and bone, etc into another bin.

Metals, caps/lids from jars, wine bottle caps for the Boone's Farm crowd, into the metals bin.

Even electronic components like circuit board could go into a bin for some level of pre-proccessing.

When there is enough material in a given bin the recycler goes to work and spits out "material cubes" for you to have picked up or delivered yourself.

The sooner in the refuse handling business you sort and deal with this stuff the cheaper it is for everyone I would think.

I barely have enough room for a trash can and a couple recycle bins. Where am I supposed to put a bunch more bins plus appliances?

This is an example of sounds great on paper but is in no way practical.
 

Darunion

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What is the carbon footprint of launching it into orbit (including rocket manufacturing etc) versus just burning the trash?
 

Stoly

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It would be a lot cheaper, but still very expensive to send it to orbit and let it burn in the atmosphere. And then there are the enviromental issues
 

SvenBent

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You are actually on the right mindset. shotting stuff out with like a canon type of thing take less energy than using rockets.
Rockets by design is highly energy inefficient due to the reaosn of it having to carry its fuel.
it take roughly 1.3 units of fuel to get 1 unit of fuel into space.
so if you need to send out trash and you need the energy from 1 megagallon of rocket fuel for the trash. then you need the ernegy of 1.3megagallon of fuel to get the 1st mega gallon out there. and for the 1.3 megagallon of fuel you just added another 1.69 megaalon of fuel needs to be add etc etc etc.

it only because we toss the empty cannister a nd consume the fuel oon the way, we can get into space at all to begin with, in regards to rockets with rockets.
 

lcpiper

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Perfect recycling would be to be able to break things down and isolate protons, neutron and electrons. Or at least into the atoms. Then reassemble into whatever is needed. How about a carbon extractor? Extract carbon from all waste and contain it for use as a building material for nanotubes or buildings. Innovations - Carbon Fiber Trusses & Beams

That would mean breaking atomic bonds yes? Not sure if that is easier then molecular bonds or not.


I barely have enough room for a trash can and a couple recycle bins. Where am I supposed to put a bunch more bins plus appliances?

This is an example of sounds great on paper but is in no way practical.

It's an idea that becomes practical if it can be developed. So I went from separate bins to one bin in that post. Why can't the bin be the same size as a regular trash can? If the bin is the size of a car and costs as much, maybe not so practical. If the bin is the size of a normal garbage can and the price of a refrigerator, maybe we got something then.
 

lcpiper

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Garbage pellets down the sewer line. The last part is easy, it's how to best make the garbage pellets that's tricky.
 
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most rocket fuels are kerosene-based RP-1 (CnH1.953n)

Unless you are a solid rocket booster which gives you the most bang for your buck. In that case they use iodine based compounds which have the highest Isp (Specific Impulse) Theres also PBAN and APCP.

And that spits out all kinds of nasty !@#$@#$
 

Betaboy1983

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"People can't even play nice with each other... and we're gonna save the f*ckin planet???"
"The planet is fine... PEOPLE are f*cked!!!"
--George Carlin
 

Goldheart

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Cost may not be the most important factor for extremely hazardous materials. But then you have the risk of something going wrong and the rocket exploding/crashing.
 

GoodBoy

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It's would be the worst thing we could do to shoot anything into the sun, even radioactive waste.

For 1, it would be crazy expensive.

And 2, it would hasten the death of the Sun. It uses fusion to fuse hydrogen into helium, and helium into Lithium. It proceeds up the periodic table to Iron, which will settle in the core and eventually cool down. All the heavy element stuff that we shot into the sun would settle to the core. The difference might not be that much, or it could be a catastrophe that puts global warmings' worst possible outcome to shame. Likely even that scenario would be a few billion years after we are long gone. But it could theoretically affect whatever lifeforms on earth that supersede us.

Lastly, all that stuff can be recycled anyway, here. A far smarter use for it.
 

alxlwson

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Unless you are a solid rocket booster which gives you the most bang for your buck. In that case they use iodine based compounds which have the highest Isp (Specific Impulse) Theres also PBAN and APCP.

And that spits out all kinds of nasty !@#$@#$

Jeeze. Just when I thought I'd seen it all here, now we have chemical and propulsion engineers.
 

Lunas

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Here we go first thing if we start shooting tons of matter into the sun we 1 don't know how that will affect the sun long term. Yes it is quite possible it will just burn up and not do anything else. But imagine after a few centuries of doing this we would be losing tons and tons of mass we can't replenish that lost matter.

And what waste only the super harmful nuclear and chemical waste?
Let's say we only launch the heavy nuclear material that we need to store for 20k years. That is heavy dangerous elements what would happen if when loaded with tons of material the rocket explodes in atmosphere... We already have designs that can actually use this high energy waste in reactors that outputs low energy waste that only lasts a few thousand years... The reason we don't have these built and we continue to run on older reactors is there are so many regulations on making a reactor and shutting down an old one that it is not feasible. We could be running much safer higher output reactors that burn all of the old fuel we are running out of places to store.

And the immense cost of launching objects in space $10,000/lbs. It would be insane. It has also been estimated that the United States alone produces 208 million metric tonnes of garbage per day. so 4.16 Quadrillion dollars to launch per day if we launched all of the garbage per day.

What would happen if for some reason new elements are born in the sun because of the addition of this fuel what if those elements form a substance like trilithium from star trek that will arrest the nuclear cycle of the sun.
 

alxlwson

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Nothing would actually make it to the sun. It would burn up thousands of miles before ever reaching it.
 
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