The Oracle from Moscow

Salzstock Gorleben: The underground storage of radio-active material has long been controversial.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    A former Russian energy lobbyist is funding a research program that could substantially reduce the radioactivity of nuclear waste, radically changing energy production in the process.

  • Facts


    • Mr. Bykow is developing a process known as partitioning and transmutation, or P&T, but critics say P&T is still a long way from reality.
    • Mr. Bykow plans to present his concept at the United Nations climate conference in Paris in December.
    • He claims that the process could reduce the radioactive half-life of nuclear waste from 300,000 to between 100 and 300 years.
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Andrej Bykow, a one-time energy lobbyist from Russia, is best known in Germany as the man who once picked an ill-fated quarrel with EnBW, one of the country’s four energy giants. Now Mr. Bykow has turned his attention to a completely different topic – one that could change his reputation in Germany and around the globe.

He has a very bold plan, and if it becomes a reality, it will turn him into a hero to the rest of the world. Mr Bykow will be known as the man who liberated the use of nuclear power from its biggest flaw.

Like others in the world, the Russian businessman, an economist trained in the former Soviet Union, is working on the problem of reducing the radioactivity of nuclear fuel rods. Hundreds of scientists and engineers are studying the technology, known as “partitioning and transmutation,” or P&T.

Mr. Bykow says that he and his team are ahead of everyone else. “We need another five years, and then our results will be commercially usable,” he told Handelsblatt. According to Mr. Bykow, he is on the verge of a “revolutionary development.”

Western scientists are stunned – and more reserved in their prognoses.

What explains Mr. Bykow’s optimism? How much of his story is reality and how much of it is propaganda?

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