Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Case for Near-term Commercial Demonstration of the Integral Fast Reactor

Barry Brook has posted a white paper arguing for an international effort to produce a working Integral Fast Reactor .  I could quibble with focusing on a technology owned by a company disinterested in it (and the omission of word on the Russian IFR (here), related China IFR builds (here), and India (here).
Regardless of the merits of putting the PRISM design into to suggestion, the concept for international efforts in developing energy solutions is encouraging.

The Case for Near-term Commercial Demonstration of the Integral Fast Reactor « BraveNewClimate:
Picture from source article
Demonstrating a credible and acceptable way to safely recycle used nuclear fuel will clear a socially acceptable pathway for nuclear fission to be a major low-carbon energy source for this century. We advocate a hastened timetable for commercial demonstration of Generation IV nuclear technology, via construction of a prototype reactor (the PRISM design, based on the Integral Fast Reactor project) and a 100t/year pyroprocessing facility to convert and recycle fuel. 
1. Synopsis
We propose an accelerated timeframe for realizing the sustainable nuclear energy goals of the Generation IV reactor systems. A whole–system evaluation by an international group of nuclear and energy experts, assembled by The Science Council for Global Initiatives, reached a consensus on the synergistic design choices: (a) a well-proven pool-type sodium-cooled fast reactor; (b) metal fuel, and (c) recycling using pyroprocessing, enabling the transmutation of actinides. Alternative technology options for the coolant, fuel type and recycling system, while sometimes possessing individually attractive features, are hard-pressed to be combined into a sufficiently competitive overall system. A reactor design that embodies these key features, the General Electric-Hitachi 311 MWe PRISM [1] (based on the Integral Fast Reactor [IFR] concept developed by Argonne National Laboratory [2]), is ready for a commercial-prototype demonstration. We advocate a two-pronged approach for completion by 2020 or earlier: (i) a detailed design and demonstration of a 100 t/year pyroprocessing facility for conversion of spent oxide fuel from light-water reactors [3]into metal fuel for fast reactors; and (ii) construction of a PRISM fast reactor as a commercial-scale demonstration plant. Ideally, this could be achieved via an international collaboration. Once demonstrated, this prototype would provide an international test facility for any concept improvements. It is expected to achieve significant advances in reactor safety, reliability, fuel resource sustainability, management of long-term waste, improved proliferation resistance, and economics.
Continue Reading at BraveNewClimate:

For background on the benefits of developing an IFR, a visit to the Waterloo Global Science Initiative, where nuclear featured prominently in part due to the contributions of Professor Brook

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