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Approaches to Achieving Inherently Safe Fusion Power Plants

Steven J. Piet

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 10 / Number 1 / July 1986 / Pages 7-30


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Achieving inherently safe fusion facilities and conceptual designs is a challenge to the fusion community. Success should provide fusion with important competitive advantages versus other energy technologies. Inherent safety should mean a facility designed with passive safety features such that the public is protected from any acute fatalities under all credible accidental circumstances. A key aspect to inherent safety is demonstrability — the ability to prove that a design is as safe as claimed. Three complementary approaches to achieving inherent safety are examined: toxin inventory reduction, energy source reduction, and design fault tolerance. Four levels of assurance are defined, associated with uncertainty in the words “credible” and “demonstrable.” Sound reasons exist for believing that inherent safety is achievable for fusion. The concept of inherent safety puts a modest upper bound on all accident consequences; it should be considered a part of the collection of safety and environmental issues, which also include lower consequence accidents, waste management, and effluent control.

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