Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I have no idea how representative this site is of the technology itself, but this site claims to be authoritative on the technology, perhaps deserving of review and comment. But i haven't researched the site.

The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) project

In order to re-start nuclear power, it is best if we have a solution that overcomes as many public objections as possible: safety, waste, cost, and proliferation. The IFR is a vast improvement in all of these areas. Key features of the IFR include:

Inherently safe: it is safer than LWR reactors because it passively shuts itself down if something goes wrong: no computers or valves are involved. This was proven in tests where the coolant flow was shut off and the reactor shut itself down without operator intervention or the intervention of any active or passive safety devices. The basic design and safety performance was reviewed by the NRC. In January 1994, the NRC issued a pre-application safety evaluation report which concluded that no objections or impediments to licensing the IFR design have been identified.

Produces no long-lived waste: It produces virtually zero long-lived nuclear waste. All of the long-lived waste is recycled in the reactor and used for fuel. Only the short-lived radioactive waste remains and that is only dangerous for a few hundred years and we know how to solve that problem.

Uses existing nuclear waste for fuel: It uses existing waste (from bombs and nuclear reactors) as fuel so it solves the "what do we do with all that nuclear waste" problem. All of that waste is burned to produce energy. No long-lived waste remains.

Fast nuclear is an inexhaustible energy resource: Unlike with LWRs, with fast reactors you will never run out of cheap fuel. Fast reactors are over 100 times more fuel efficient than today's light water reactors. Enough to power our planet for billions of years.

Proliferation resistant: The IFR recycling process cannot separate out pure Plutonium so it does not create an easier path for a terrorist to make a bomb. It creates a path where it is almost impossible to make a bomb. If we choose not to promote this technology, the world will standardize on a much more dangerous recycling process where is it is much easier to make a bomb. By switching to fast reactors, we eliminate the need for enrichment which is the big proliferation risk today.

Low cost: It is potentially less expensive than today's nuclear reactors (assuming you can get down the manufacturing cost curve) because most of the key pieces are built in factories and shipped to the site rather than built on-site.

High reliability: Our own EBR-II ran for 30 years with incident before being shut down for political reasons in 1994. The Russian fast reactor (BN-600) which has been producing electricity commercially for more than 30 years has been among their most reliable reactors in their fleet. The Chinese recently ordered two fast reactors from the Russians.

The NRC has pre-approved the design: In January 1994, the NRC issued a pre-application safety evaluation report which concluded that no objections or impediments to licensing the IFR design have been identified.

Objective analysis confirms it is the world's best Gen IV reactor design: Although there are other reactor designs such as the LFTR that might appear to be promising, the IFR was rated #1 in a multi-year comparative study done by the Gen IV International Forum. It has the support of Hans Bethe, over 1,500 scientists from ANL, support from the scientists who have the most hands-on experience with fast reactors, support from former top nuclear management at DOE, and so on. GE has a commercial design that has been pre-certified; they are ready to submit to NRC certification and build. We have three decades of operational experience with it and most of the hard problems have been solved. If you only have money to build one fast reactor, this is clearly your best choice. Nothing else is even close.

Support from the National Academy of Sciences: The National Resource Council committee sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that liquid metal fast reactors (such as the IFR) should have highest priority for long-term nuclear technology development..

We've already committed to work with France and Japan on the development of prototype/demonstration Sodium Cooled Fast Reactors (which includes the IFR). We just signed a Joint Statement of Trilateral Cooperation on the IFR technology on October 4, 2010. The other countries will build it; the US will continue research for 30 years and build nothing, giving those other countries a 30 year head-start on technology we invented.

Better than a Thorium reactor, but no comment regarding the under-funded Wotanium reactor project. Hammer.

Then comes this:

To control climate change, we must get rid of virtually all carbon emissions from coal. To do that, we need a way to generate power for a cost less than coal, that can generate power reliably 24x7, and that can be constructed virtually anywhere. Solar and wind don't meet the need; that is why even environmentally progressive countries such as Germany are still building coal plants.

Ignoring the point that Germany might be building a coal plant in subservience to ancient powers in spite of its focus on wind and solar, i'm all for cheaper than coal 24/7 cutting edge technology, except that this civilization shows no signs of being capable of dealing with what it unleashes.

In any case, i'm wondering just what technical hurdles are needed to be overcome, especially in comparison to rotor blades not being strong enough to handle wind gusts, or gear teeth not meshing correctly.

I am looking to be enlightened on the values of this technology, and am prepared to embrace it when come concerns are addressed.

Oh Wait! Now they're debating my old friend Amory Lovins HERE.  Perhaps i should find out what the renewable physicist himself says, but not tonight.

Being an Occam's Razor Voluntary Simplicity Type i find this fascinating:

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Dec 7th, 2011 at 06:57:17 PM EST
IFR's are basically a way to deal with nuclear waste, not to produce commercial grade power.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Dec 8th, 2011 at 04:29:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series