This is cross-posted from Coyote Blog, where I already am getting accusations of selling out.
Posted on November 19, by energyskeptic Preface.
This is despite the high cost, instability, danger, and accidents of the 16 previous world-wide attempts that have shut down, including the Monju fast breeder in Japan, which began decommissioning in There are only four small experimental prototypes operating.
Breeder reactors are much closer to being bombs than conventional reactors — the effects of an accident would be catastrophic economically and in the number of lives lost if it failed near a city Wolfson. A fast reactor at any cost: The perverse pursuit of breeder reactors in India.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. For a variety of reasons, these projections will not materialize, making the pursuit of breeder reactors wasteful.
But first, some history. Bhabha, did what most people in those roles did around that time: It is in this context that we turn to atomic energy for a solution… For the full industrialization of the under-developed countries, for the continuation of our civilization and its further development, atomic energy is not merely an aid; it is an absolute necessity.
There was a problem though. India had a relatively small amount of good quality uranium ore that could be mined economically. It cannot be used to fuel a nuclear reactor directly but has to first be converted into the chain-reacting element uranium, through a series of nuclear reactions.
To produce uranium in large quantities, Bhabha proposed a three-step plan that involved starting with the more readily available uranium ore. The first stage of this three-phase strategy involves the use of uranium fuel in heavy water reactors, followed by reprocessing the irradiated spent fuel to extract the plutonium.
If the blanket were thorium, it would produce chain-reacting uranium Finally, the third stage would involve breeder reactors using uranium in their cores and thorium in their blankets. Breeder reactors, therefore, formed the basis of two of the three stages.
Bhabha was hardly alone in thinking of breeders. We have considered this last possibility very seriously since the discovery of large deposits of thorium ores in Madagascar. In the more than 60 years that have passed since the adoption of the three-phase plan, we have learned a lot about breeder reactors.
Three of the important lessons are that fast breeder reactors are costly to build and operate; they have special safety problems; and they have severe reliability problems, including persistent sodium leaks. But it was October before the reactor finally attained criticality, and a further eight years i.
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