This is about a type of nuclear reactor known as the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) which can be thought of as the ultimate nuclear reactor that
essentially solves all problems burdening existing nuclear power. I don't want to make this too complicated, so I'll try to be as non-technical as
1. This design destroys existing nuclear waste reducing the radiotoxicity of existing nuclear waste by many orders of magnitude.
2. No mining is required for hundreds of years as we destroy depleted uraniun stockpiles.
3. It should be economically competitive.
4. It is very safe by use of the laws of nature for safety, rather than operators.
5. No enrichment is required.
6. Greater proliferation resistance over current reactors.
Destroying existing nuclear waste.
In a nuclear reactor, two main kinds of wastes form. One is formed when the fuel absorbs a neutron and becomes a very heavy element that is highly
radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. These are known as actinides. The other kind of waste is known as a fission product, created when the
fuel atoms split apart after they are struck by a neutron, these are radioactive for a few hundred years. In a conventional nuclear reactor, the
neutrons are slowed by water or graphite and therefore do not have the kinetic energy necessary to use these actinides as fuel. In this reactor, known
as a fast reactor, the coolant is sodium which does not slow down neutrons, which now have the kinetic energy to use practically all actinides as
fuel. Therefore this reactor can consume existing nuclear waste of fuel, reducing the size of the required waste repository by a factor of between
four and fifty, and the waste is now only radioactive for 500 years instead of over 100,000 years. Deployment of one new plant per year for 30 years
would eliminate spent nuclear fuel (nuclear waste) in the United States within the lifetime of the plant.
No mining required for hundreds of years
A fast reactor operated on a breeding cycle can also increase the efficiency of a nuclear plant by a factor of 100 by enabling use of depleted uranium
and requiring no enrichment. Uranium is approximately 0.7% Uranium-235, and 99.3% Uranium-238. In a conventional reactor, enrichment is required so
the fuel is 5% Uranium-235, which discards a very large amount of Uranium-238. For the most part, it is only the this Uranium-235 that is actually
used in the nuclear reaction. In a fast breeder reactor, the Uranium-238 can also be utilized as a fuel because when struck with a neutron it forms
Plutonium-239 which can be used as a fuel. In essence, it turns something that is not a fuel, into something that is a fuel.
Pictured: Depleted Uranium canisters at Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Kentucky
Each cylinder contains up to 14,000 kilograms of Uranium Hexafluoride
We have 38,000 cylinders just sitting there at this one enrichment facility in the United States.
Each is equivalent to 60 million megawatt ours at the generator if utilized in a fast breeder reactor.
The 38,000 cylinders are enough to power the United States for 570 years, or are equivalent to trillions of dollars worth of fuel.
When mining is required after 600 years, only a small amount will be required due to the extremely high efficiencies attained.
U in LWR = Uranium in Light Water Reactors (current reactors)
U in IFR = Uranium in Integral Fast Reactor
(this picture is old, the figures for all have risen substantially, but it illustrates the point well enough.
For a new power source to be viable, the cost of power must be competitive with today's power systems. The proof of costs in any project only comes
when full- sized systems are built and operated. Although no full-sized IFR plant has been built, several facts suggest that the IFR will be very
economic. Costs of today's nuclear plants are just slightly above that of coal as a national average. Several nuclear plants have operated with costs
significantly below that of coal however. A new IFR should cost less than either a new nuclear (typical of today's technology) or coal plant based on
the following. The IFR does not require some of the complex systems that today's reactors require. Examples include the low level radwaste cleanup
station, the emergency core cooling system, and fewer control rod drives and control rods for comparable power. Because of the low pressure in the
sodium systems, less steel is required for the plant piping and reactor vessel. There are studies that suggest that the reactor containment will be
less massive. Other cost savings will be made because the IFR does not require the services of the Isotopic Separation Plants for fuel enrichment.
Additional costs to the IFR include the integral fuel reprocessing capability, and a secondary sodium system (but the IFR fuel process costs are
somewhat offset by the extremely low cost for raw fuel and the improved waste product). Some studies have been done which indicate that an IFR would
be very economical and competitive to build, own, and operate, but the final proof of economics can only come in the construction and operation of a
commercial sized plant.
(this was on the UC Berkley website until it was removed)
The sodium coolant is extremely conductive and therefore the reactor has enormous thermal inertia. The reactor will shut itself down in all situations
because the fuel expands due to the laws of nature, therefore the reaction stops by itself. It is design to survive a 0.5g earthquake (Haiti quake was
0.3g) without significant damage. Radiation doses to the workers are between 1%-2% of existing reactors, the amount of extra radiation above
background is therefore negligible (it already is in current plants I might add).
The IFR gains safety advantages through a combination of metal fuel (an alloy of uranium, plutonium, and zirconium), and sodium cooling. By providing
a fuel which readily conducts heat from the fuel to the coolant, and which operates at relatively low temperatures, the IFR takes maximum advantage of
expansion of the coolant, fuel, and structure during off-normal events which increase temperatures. The expansion of the fuel and structure in an
off-normal situation causes the system to shut down even without human operator intervention. In April of 1986, two special tests were performed on
the Experimental Breeder Reactor II (EBR-II), in which the main primary cooling pumps were shut off with the reactor at full power (62.5 Megawatts,
thermal) - By not allowing the normal shutdown systems to interfere, the reactor power dropped to near zero within about 300 seconds. No damage to the
fuel or the reactor resulted. This test demonstrated that even with a loss of all electrical power and the capability to shut down the reactor using
the normal systems, the reactor will simply shut down without danger or damage. The same day, this demonstration was followed by another important
test. With the reactor again at full power, flow in the secondary cooling system was stopped. This test caused the temperature to increase, since
there was nowhere for the reactor heat to go. As the primary (reactor) cooling system became hotter, the fuel, sodium coolant, and structure expanded,
and the reactor shut down. This test showed that an IFR type reactor will shut down using inherent features such as thermal expansion, even if the
ability to remove heat from the primary cooling system is lost. Events such as the loss of water to the steam system would cause a condition such as
the test demonstrated. Another major feature of the IFR concept is that the reactor uses a coolant, sodium, which does not boil during normal
operation nor even in overpower transients such as described above. This means that the coolant is not under significant pressure. When coolant is not
under pressure, the reactor can be placed in a "pool" of coolant, contained in a double tank, so that there is no real possibility for a loss of
coolant. Even if the normal pumps are lost, some coolant flow through the reactor occurs due to natural convection. The features described above allow
for greater simplification of a nuclear plant, resulting in cost savings, greater ease in operation, and a safety system that relies on natural
phenomenon that cannot be defeated by human error.
Greater proliferation resistance over current reactors.
The diversion of nuclear fuel for the purpose of making bombs has been a concern, although presently the handling and destruction of nuclear
weapons material is the primary issue. In the IFR, the nature of the fuel reprocessing is such that the fuel remains highly radioactive at all times.
Fuel can only be handled in shielded cells or transported in casks weighing many tons. In addition, because the fuel recycle facility is located
on-site, there is no transportation of nuclear which could create an opportunity for diversion. In any event, IFR fuel is not suitable for weapons
without extensive processing in very expensive facilities. The potential also exists for the IFR to use weapons material for fuel, thus eliminating
it, while producing electricity.
And as previously mentioned, no enrichment is required.
Documentary on the technology:
Where are we today?
The IFR program was canceled in 1994, after decades of work, just two years from completion. We have global warming (fine, cross it out if you believe
it's fake), resource depletion, and the proposed plan to store nuclear waste has backfired. This need for this technology is as urgent as ever. We
should restart the IFR program for unlimited safe, clean, and economic energy. Additionally, France, Japan, Russia, Korea, and China are developing
this technology, the US will be left behind if it doesn't develop it. If we start now we could have the system commercialized within 15 years.
I've stated this many many times, good luck to people researching ZPE, just don't most people to believe it until there's proper evidence for an
actual working generator. Good luck, but it's not an alternative to energy sources we know are viable. Thanks but no thanks.
25/10/10 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)
General Electric is designing a reactor called S-PRISM which is practically exactly the same as the IFR. This is a presentation on the technology if
you're interested, but it's rather technical. The first few minutes of the first video are an introduction to GE, just skip through that to get to the
edit on 30/10/10 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)
The biggest expense in nuclear power is dismantling old nuclear power plants.
One way to cut this cost is to build the plants at the old nuclear test site in Nevada.
Build the HOT(radioactive) sides of the plants so that after they are worn out they can be de-fueled and left in place and a new hot side built and
piped into the generator side.
This would cut the cost of decommissioning to very little.
Since the test site is contaminated already and will be so for 1000s of years from nuclear testing there is no big loss.
as this land is already lost and this would be a gain by using it.
Plus there is the concern of terrorists getting it and manufacturing a dirty bomb.
one highly secure site would eliminate this danger as getting nuclear fuel off the test site would be just about impossible with everything on one
site with multiple layers of security around it.
Also this would cut the cost and danger of shipping spent nuclear fuel across the country.
You could even site reprocessing plants there to and make everything at one highly secure site.
The one problem might be water supply but that could be worked around with states that use the power piping or shipping water by train to the test
And with all that power there the water could be recycled without much problem.
Having one big nuclear power plant area in the country and transmission lines to feed the rest of the US would make safeguards and security easy as
everything would be in one place.(national power grid)
edit on 21-11-2010 by ANNED because: (no reason given)
I like how this technology is already out there but there are not any private entities able to pour some of their resources into more research and
development into this kind of refining. I see how it has potential to reduce our nuclear waste, with little consequence; but that is truly unknown at
the moment. when i read this it reminded me of this video i saw a few weeks ago how we can use plastics and create gasoline.
As you can see this little machine is able to create fuel from garbage like your super reactor. although its not as wowing as the reactor in the OP
but there are similar technologies out there that can recycle and reuse garbage. Imagine the dents we would make even if this little machine was
readily available to mass convert all our plastics that are not reusable? how about all those plastic bottles that are washing up on shores in the
The nuclear reactor however seems more robust that the machine in the video and would like to see more developments in this type of technology and
work towards a way to perfect this technology. If we are able to attain this kind of recycling ability then we would be well on or way in reducing
pollution and at the same time meet some of the growing power needs in the USA and abroad.
S&F & hope there is some kind of implementation of this technology with a few prototype reactors to woo in some potential investors.
Preliminary lessons from Fukushima for future nuclear power plants
Guest Post by Dr. William Hannum. Bill worked for more than 40 years in nuclear power development, stretching from design and analysis of the
Shippingport reactor to the Integral Fast Reactor.
Advanced recycling, where essentially all of the recyclable material is recovered and used (as opposed to recovery and recycle of plutonium) presents
a different picture. Full recycling is effective only with a fast reactor. A metal fuel, clad in stainless steel, allows a design of a sodium-cooled
fast reactor with astonishing passive safety characteristics. Because the sodium operates far from its boiling point in an essentially unpressurized
system, catastrophic events caused by leakage or pipe failures cannot occur. The metal fuel gives the system very favorable feedback characteristics,
so that even the most extreme disruptions are passively accommodated. A complete loss of cooling, such as at Fukushima, leads to only a modest
temperature rise. Even if the control system were rendered inoperable, and the system lost cooling but remained at full power (this is a far more
serious scenario than Fukushima, where the automatic shutdown system operated as designed) the system would self-stabilize at low power, and be cooled
by natural convection to the atmosphere. Should the metal fuel fail for any reason, internal fission product gases would cause the fuel to foam
and disperse, providing the most powerful of all shutdown mechanisms.
The only situation that could generate energy to disperse material from the reactor is the possibility of s sodium-water reaction. By using an
intermediate sodium system (reactor sodium passes its energy to a non-radioactive sodium system, which then passes its energy to water to generate
steam to turn the electrical generator), the possibility of a sodium-water reaction spreading radioactive materials is precluded.
These reactors must accommodate seismic challenges, just as any other reactor type. While there are many such design features in common with other
reactor designs, the problem is simpler for the fast reactor because of the low pressure, and the fact that this type of reactor does not need
elaborate water injection systems.
I was wondering when thorium accelerator reactors would be mentioned. I admit I myself know little about it all but one has to wonder why such
technologies are not in place already, seeing as it would alleviate great costs in dealing with spent nuclear fuel, in a market driven by costs.
Petition the White House for next-generation nuclear fission
This is in response to a brand new feature of the Obama Administration’s WhiteHouse.gov, called “We the People.” It’s an online petition forum
in which any petition that garners 5000 signatures within 30 days will be considered and get an official response. Non-binding, but it’s a way to
educate and be heard. The system encourages use of social media to gauge public support.
If you are a U.S. citizen (and I know more than 600 of BNC subscribers are), please show your support.
We petition the Obama administration to restart the Integral Fast Reactor nuclear power technology program. Without delay, the U.S. should build a
commercial-scale demonstration reactor and adjacent recycling center. General Electric’s PRISM reactor, developed by a consortium of major American
companies in partnership with the Argonne National Laboratory, is ready to build now. It is designed to consume existing nuclear waste as fuel, be
passively safe and proliferation-resistant. It can provide clean, emissions-free power to counter climate change, and will create jobs as we
manufacture and export a superior technology. Abundant homegrown nuclear power will also enhance our nation’s energy security. Our country dedicated
some of its finest scientific and engineering talent to this program, with spectacular success. Let’s finish the job we started. It will benefit our
nation, and the world.
If you're interesting in destroying nuclear waste, making an unlimited source of energy, then it's time to show your support (if you're a US citizen)
and do something about it.
edit on 2/10/11 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)
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