Bringing American Progressives on board for a clean nuclear future
It’s no secret that I am a fan of the Integral Fast Reactor and what I hope will soon be its commercially produced and deployed version, the PRISM (Power Reactor, Innovative Small Module). This is one of many next-generation nuclear technologies that I hope to see developed and implemented in the near future. Now there is an opportunity to give it a boost, as Tom Blees has made a pitch to the Climate CoLab at MIT. I encourage my readers to go and vote for Tom’s proposal to make a presentation on the IFR/PRISM at an MIT conference in November 2013. Doing so would give this technology a lot more traction in the US. Please, take five minutes to register and vote for Tom. There is also a very good and comprehensive description of IFR technology at the same link, worth taking the time to read through.
The integral fast reactor (IFR) is a type of complete closed nuclear power system that recycles its own waste so that the elements that are radioactive for tens of thousands of years are all consumed and converted into electricity and waste elements with short half-lives. IFRs are capable of using spent fuel from existing reactors (so-called “nuclear waste”) as well as old weapons material and even depleted uranium. The inert waste from this process can’t leach anything into the environment for thousands of years, yet its radiotoxicity will decline to levels below that of natural uranium ore in a few hundred years, so it essentially solves the nuclear waste problem. Whereas ordinary light-water reactors (LWRs) in use around the world today extract only about six-tenths of one percent of the energy in uranium, IFRs can utilize virtually all of it, making them over 150 times more efficient.
I am partway through reading Tom’s book, Prescription for the Planet. He presents an ambitious and fascinating vision, and the book is a fun and interesting read. Check it out here.