Mass-producible integral fast reactor modules can power every country on earth for nearly a millennium with waste products already at hand. That’s the pitch that Tom Blees has made to the Climate CoLab at MIT. If Tom’s pitch garners the most votes, the push to get the first PRISM built will get a lot more traction in the US, and with the public.
The PRISM is an unusual case. Since the EBR-II was shut down in 1994, GE had it sitting on a shelf with a small group of engineers combing over the design and tweaking and optimizing it, piece by piece. It was a low priority at GE and these guys laboured in obscurity, with a succession of people moving in and out of the project over the nearly two decades. But with all that optimization of every part of the system, the PRISM is now so ready to build that GE could make an offer to build them for the UK, right NOW. Such an offer, especially from a company as conservative as GE, displayed an enormous amount of confidence in its readiness to build the PRISM. This design process that’s lasted since the early 90s is why we call PRISM the best reactor never built.
Anyway, here are some more details. Please BNC readers, do register and vote. This really is worth 5 minutes of your time!
Vote for Tom Blees to give a talk at MIT on how
“Integral Fast Reactors Can Power the Planet”
In a proposal for MIT’s Climate CoLab, Tom Blees, president of SCGI, explains that “Mass-producible integral fast reactor modules can power every country on earth for nearly a millennium with waste products already at hand. “
The goal of the Climate CoLab is to harness the collective intelligence of thousands of people from all around the world to address global climate change.
Tom’s proposal has made it into the final round of judging and is now being voted on by the public. If it either garners sufficient votes or is supported by the judges, Tom will be invited to present the proposal at an MIT conference in November 2013. Previous winners have sometimes been given the opportunity to present their proposals to the UN and the US Congress.
If you’d like to read the proposal and support it with your vote, you can find it here. On the right side of that site you will see a link to vote, which requires a brief registration procedure:
- Make sure to put at least 8 characters in your password.
- No spaces in your screen name.
- The bio and photo are entirely optional, you can disregard those fields.
When talking with people about Integral Fast Reactor technology, people often ask where they might find a brief written explanation. Tom’s proposal on the MIT site is a great place to direct friends and acquaintances who might be interested in learning about it. The proposal provides a succinct overview of both the technology itself and the grand vision of what its use can mean for humanity. Besides introducing them to the IFR concepts, directing them to the proposal on the MIT site (via personal email, Facebook, etc.) will also give them the opportunity to support the proposal and increase the likelihood that the message will reach a much wider audience.
With your support and vote, we can present the IFR to MIT and beyond.
The integral fast reactor (IFR) is a type of complete closed nuclear power system that recycles its own waste so that the elements that are radioactive for tens of thousands of years are all consumed and converted into electricity and waste elements with short half-lives. IFRs are capable of using spent fuel from existing reactors (so-called “nuclear waste”) as well as old weapons material and even depleted uranium. The inert waste from this process can’t leach anything into the environment for thousands of years, yet its radiotoxicity will decline to levels below that of natural uranium ore in a few hundred years, so it essentially solves the nuclear waste problem. Whereas ordinary light-water reactors (LWRs) in use around the world today extract only about six-tenths of one percent of the energy in uranium, IFRs can utilize virtually all of it, making them over 150 times more efficient.
The IFR was developed at Argonne National Laboratory until 1994, when the program was defunded by congress just as it was finishing. The EBR-II reactor there ran for thirty years and proved every aspect of the system. The goal was to solve all the problems associated with nuclear power—safety, economics, proliferation, fuel issues, construction time, etc. The program was amazingly successful on all counts, yet the technology was shelved and virtually unknown until 2008 when it began to be publicized.
During the years of the Argonne IFR research, a consortium of major American companies led by General Electric (including Westinghouse, Bechtel, Raytheon, Babcock & Wilcox, etc.) worked at Argonne with the researchers there to design a commercial-scale fast reactor incorporating the principles of the IFR. The result was the PRISM reactor. In the ensuing years that design has been slightly altered and optimized. It is capable of an output of 300-350 MWe, about a third the amount of a big power plant. The PRISM is a modular system intended for mass production. They are ready to be built.