Integral Fast Reactor (IFR)

From a book by Tom Blees:-

It will probably surprise you to know that there is a virtually inexhaustible source of energy that is safe, lean, and economical that will require no recourse to mining, drilling, or other extraction processes for literally hundreds of years. Far from being another pie in the sky, this technology was developed at one of America’s national laboratories over more than a decade by a veritable army of PhDs. As the project reached its triumphant conclusion in the mid-90s, it was suddenly terminated and its facilities dismantled. The scientists who’d succeeded so spectacularly in their efforts were scattered, and word came down from the U.S. department of Energy that the project was not to be publicized.

Another typical American conspiracy story? Perhaps, perhaps not. However the technology is apparently real. He is talking about a type of nuclear reactor (still a fission reactor not the utopian fusion type) that yields 100-300 times as much energy for the same amount of fuel when compared to todays nuclear reactors. It could operate without any need for mining for several hundred years because it can be fueled using the worlds accumulated nuclear waste that conventional reactors have been piling up for decades. In other words it actually largely solves the existing nuclear waste storage problem. It is safer because if it loses it’s coolant the physics of the design means that the reactor shuts down instead of melts down. Whilst not yet commercialised IFR may be an energy solution that can undercut coal as a power source without any carbon tax or cap and trade mechanism.

More details at the following sites:-

http://prescriptionfortheplanet.com/

http://skirsch.com/politics/globalwarming/ifr.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Fast_Reactor

I’m not suggesting our government should pick winners. However technology is fascinating.

10 thoughts on “Integral Fast Reactor (IFR)

  1. All renewable “frivolities” aside, in 30 years we will generate the vast majority of our base load electricity via coal or uranium.

  2. G’day,

    Its not a nutty conspiracy theory but real technology. The cancellation of the IFR was one of the dumbest decisions of the Clinton administration. Nuclear power can provide emission free baseload power, something wind and solar can’t do. With nukes , especially advanced nukes like IFR, carbon emissions can be reduced without the need of a economy wrecking carbon tax.

    As to government support, well my view is in Australia the government should remove its ban on nuclear power and provide the necessary regularity environment to make nukes a real option. Anybody who is wants to reduce carbon emissions and doesn’t support nuclear power is just not fair dinkum.

    ta

    Ralph

    Anybody who

  3. I really don’t get why the government has a ban on nuclear energy when it produces much less CO2 than coal. The only reasons I can think of are the issues of water consumption, the waste produced (which can be safely stored) and the irrational fear of another Chernobyl. The government’s current position where it’s ok to mine uranium and export it so other countries can use it but it’s “not suitable for Australia” is supremely hypocritical and infuriating.

  4. I swear this is the last time I cross post this….

    Just for the benefit of the discussion:

    http://blog.libertarian.org.au/2009/07/21/roger-douglas-carbon-tax-is-better/#comment-71093

    A note I made on the catallaxy open forum [and the ALS discussion/open forum thread]:

    ——————————

    Pissing off climate change denialists and alarmists:

    http://www.holisticmanagement.org/n9/about/carbon.php

    Apparently all we have to do is let money hungry farmers run farms with little subsidy and we might avoid disaster.

    “The fabulous thing about sequestering carbon in grasslands is that you can keep on doing it forever – you can keep building soil on soil on soil… perennial grasses can outlive their owners; they’re longer-lived than a lot of trees, so the carbon sequestration is more permanent than it is in trees: the carbon’s not going to re-cycle back into the atmosphere if we maintain that soil management… and there’s no limit to how much soil you can build… for example, we would only have to improve the stored carbon percentage by one percent on the 415 million hectares (1,025,487,333 acres) of agricultural soil in Australia and we could sequester all of the planet’s legacy load of carbon. It’s quite a stunning figure.”

  5. Supposedly, cheap energy.
    Lots of people involved.
    None of them blabs, or turns it into a media story.
    ‘They’, always unnamed, don’t want us to have cheap energy?
    I sense a conspiracy to start a conspiracy story here!

  6. All renewable “frivolities” aside, in 30 years we will generate the vast majority of our base load electricity via coal or uranium.

    Is it not the most libertarian thing to do to look after yourself? If I ever build a house, I’ll most likely chuck up some solar panels if the price is comparable to hooking up to the grid

    Its not a nutty conspiracy theory but real technology. The cancellation of the IFR was one of the dumbest decisions of the Clinton administration. Nuclear power can provide emission free baseload power, something wind and solar can’t do. With nukes , especially advanced nukes like IFR, carbon emissions can be reduced without the need of a economy wrecking carbon tax.

    At the same time, though, uranium is expensive and understandably hard to obtain and refine. Though I think we could slightly alleviate this by privatising all land in Australia (whether giving it traditional owners or selling it – the idea is the same) and completely deregulating land usage, we would see a fair few more mines pop up

  7. @Steve

    PV panels are all well and good for those who choose to install them. I am not sure how economies of scale work for every household to install them but for those who wish to install them themselves I support since it reduces demand on the grid and centralised energy generation.

    We still need centralised base load generation in the form of a modern nuclear energy fleet. Coal power stations should not be shut down however. It should be converted to coal gradually as generators reach end of life or become economically unviable.

  8. Steve,

    Uranium is expensive because 99% of it is isotope 238 which needs to be removed for use in current reactors as they operate using isotope 235. My understanding is that an IFR reactor can use either which is why the same basic fuel yields 100-300 times as much energy in an IFR reactor.

  9. TerjeP wrote “Uranium is expensive because 99% [it’s actually a little more] of it is isotope 238 which needs to be removed for use in current reactors as they operate using isotope 235”.

    All current reactors use isotope 235 (or occasionally plutonium 239 in breeder reactors); there is also the possibility of using isotope 233, bred from thorium, though this isn’t in current use. However, it is not true that “isotope 238… needs to be removed for use in current reactors”, even when they use isotope 235. Many current reactors do indeed need some of it removed because they use moderator materials that absorb too many neutrons to work otherwise – but only some of it – but some don’t even need that, e.g. CANDU reactors which use a heavy water moderator.

    “My understanding is that an IFR reactor can use either which is why the same basic fuel yields 100-300 times as much energy in an IFR reactor”.

    This is true – when they are configured to breed plutonium, which isn’t straightforward. Similar things apply to the proposed LFTR reactors, which are far easier to configure to breed fuel from thorium (once they have a starter stock of other fuel). Thorium is more widely available and cheaper than uranium, too. Also, these reactors have far smaller problems with waste and lower proliferation risk. Two good sites dealing with them are here and here.

    My personal suggestions for Australia would be:-

    – Set up a CANDU reactor to breed a starter stock of isotope 233 from thorium and to build expertise. This might be a “poor man’s” version, using sugar charcoal fluidised with carbon monoxide (doubling as a coolant gas) instead of heavy water as a moderator.

    – Using that expertise and starter stock of isotope 233, develop and install the simpler but larger kind of LFTR reactor that the French are looking into, that has no separate moderator but instead uses the molten salts for that.

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