Fast reactor technology getting renewed attention

June 7, 2022, 12:04PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Fast reactor technology, which can run on used nuclear fuel to generate energy, could fulfill U.S. energy needs for 100 years using existing waste, according to Jess Gehin, associate lab director at Idaho National Laboratory and an ANS member in a recent interview with CNBC. Gehin and other nuclear experts believe that this technology could provide substantial energy for the country, help resolve the debate over storing spent nuclear waste, and address the issue of climate change with more carbon-free energy generation. However, the commercial development of fast reactor technology has been hampered by political and economic roadblocks, which researchers are now seeking to overcome.

ARDP recipient Southern announces molten salt fast reactor demonstration plans

November 19, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will be built at Idaho National Laboratory to demonstrate criticality in a fast-spectrum salt-cooled reactor within five years. (Image: Southern Company)

Southern Company and the Department of Energy have announced an agreement to demonstrate the world’s first fast-spectrum salt reactor in collaboration with TerraPower and a host of other participants at Idaho National Laboratory. With this announcement, at least four of the DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Project awardees featuring four different coolants—helium (X-energy), sodium (TerraPower), fluoride salt (Kairos Power), and chloride salt (Southern, with TerraPower)—have announced a site and a commitment to build either a full-size demo reactor or a scaled-down experimental reactor.

Time to get serious about our energy future

August 18, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear CafeSteven Curtis
(Photo: mik Krakow)

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It is hard to get anyone to agree on anything these days. However, it’s pretty safe to say that most of us want clean air to breathe and adequate energy supplies. It is difficult to see any current or proposed energy policy that brings us closer to that goal. In fact, over the past 15 years, we have not put a dent in our “carbon footprint,” despite the proliferation of “renewable energy” supported by staggeringly large subsidies. What is really puzzling, however, is the huge amount of subsidy money going toward fossil fuels when we are told that these have to be gone completely by the year 2050. Of $18.4 billion dollars in subsidies in 2016, 59 percent went to renewables, 25 percent went to fossil fuels, and 15 percent went to “energy efficiency.”