Making the Case for New Nuclear
In the light of the ongoing human, environmental, and technical disaster taking place on Japan at the crippled Fukushima Dai'ichi power plant, the future of nuclear energy would seem to be seriously in doubt, especially in North America where a new nukes haven't been built in the last 30 years, and most of the 100+ reactors now in operation are nearing the end of their original planned life.
Current Light Water Reactor technology faces serious obstacles from aging plants, to the intractable problem of long-term radioactive waste storage, to nuclear weapons proliferation. Even the President of the United States would appear to have second thoughts, referring in his March 30, 2011 speech at Georgetown University to the need for "safe" nuclear power. Clearly what's happening in Japan vividly demonstrates that it is far from "safe." In the roughly fifty year history of the industry, with some 400 plants built around the world, we have had thee meltdowns, and numerous close calls. That is a less than one-in-150 failure rate. That hardly commends itself on the grounds of safety.
Still, what if there were nuclear power technology that addresses many, if not most, of the issues haunting our 50 year-old LWRs? What if the reactor not only ran 150 times more efficiently than today's plants but also used spent fuel rods and depleted uranium (DU) as its fuel, consuming the very waste other plants have generated? Even more importantly, runaway meltdowns would automatically be stopped as the system's own physics shut down the reaction, even if the plant's thermal transfer systems stopped working.
This sounds too good to be true, but according to Tom Blees in this exclusive, two-part Skype video interview, the technology has existed for the last three decades, though only in experimental reactors. As the world re-evaluates its nuclear power options, he thinks it's time to get serious about Integral Fast Reactors, or IFRs. Apparently the Russian government agrees. While visiting their Washington, D.C. embassy last week , they told Blees at they are committed to being the first nation to develop commercial IFRs. Now Blees wants to make sure they use the best technology available called EBR2 or "Prism," which General Electric has licensed.
Watch the video and consider reading the book, Prescription for the Planet, which has received very positive reviews on Amazon.com, and decide if this is the direction the world needs to go for its energy future.
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