“Spooked” by IFR on TV

Here’s something intriguing — an indication that the wider world is starting to pay some attention to the IFR. I suspect Tom Blees’ message is getting out into the popular culture further, faster than we may have suspected…

There’s a British TV show called “Spooks“, which is a spy drama. Episode 9 of this year’s season (sixth series) is about a race against time to find and deactivate a bomb planted in central London by an ex-IRA operative, and discover who is really behind the plot to kill them. It ends up involving Iran and nuclear power.

So why is this of interest to BNC readers? Well, here is the link — go forward to 47 min 42 sec: (EPISODE 9)

We have the UK Home Secretary talking:

Home Secretary UK: “Iran maintains that her nuclear programme is peaceful. We know to our cost that the reactionaries are interested in more than domestic power supply, but I’ve found a way to call their bluff. If Iran wants a peaceful nuclear programme, we’ll give it to them.”

[He spins computer screen, showing a reactor blueprint (I guess the S-PRISM!)]

Home Secretary UK: “The plans for an Integral Fast Reactor. It’s a nuclear plant. A safe nuclear plant. Bottom line: these plants cannot be used to produce nuclear weapons. Nobody has an excuse to bomb Iran, nobody has an excuse to invade Iran. Not if a nuclear programme is driven by these reactors… This plan represents our last, best hope for an enduring peace.”

This screened on ABC TV in Australia this week. About a dozen friends and relatives later emailed me to say they’d seen this. Someone’s paying attention!

And whilst I’m talking about IFR and television, some of you may not have seen this with Tom Blees that was put up on YouTube about a month ago. In a recorded in a recorded conversation at Davis Media Access / Davis Community TV in Davis, California on March 10, 2009, Tom talks to host Mark Graham for about 30 minutes on the technologies described in Prescription for the Planet.

Here are the interview links, broken up into 3 x 10 minute time slices:

It’s a great summary of Integral Fast Reactors in an easily digestable format — so please do pass the links around.

Finally, Haydon Manning, in an essay in The Australian a few days ago, also gave P4TP a plug… 

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By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

17 replies on ““Spooked” by IFR on TV”

I’m sorry mate but I haven’t been interested in watching Spooks since Keely Hawes left it. Now if she would do a sales video on IFR I’d watch it.


I wasn’t exactly watching the show but came into the room to hear that particular exchange and was surprised – I haven’t come across references to IFR outside of this blog that I haven’t actively searched to find.
I do have concerns about IFR but expect it will become increasingly attractive as the misgivings are weighed up against the costs of conversion to clean renewables – and against the almost unimaginable costs of BAU.


I have to add that there’s clearly a long way to go to gaining public support for IFR nuclear when it’s getting so little mention. How is such technology viewed by the established users of nuclear such as US, France, Sweden or India and China and other wanna be nuclear users such as Iran in this TV show? Is anyone fast tracking it’s deployment? I think that without IFR being taken up elsewhere in a major way the chances of doing so here in OZ are next to nonexistent. Of course a Carbon price that will force the abandonment of Coal for renewables would presumably make IFR look far more attractive – and it’s an international essential either way.


Ken, yes, I know that some very clever people are working in the background to get IFR fast tracked. I agree that IFR won’t happen in Oz before some other places have built one, but it’s still not beyond the realms of possibility that our first NPP in 10 years or so could be an IFR.


India’s definitely working on metal-fueled breeders and a closed fuel cycle. South Korea is hot to build a PRISM too. Italy’s been talking about them but their first reactors (post-moratorium, recently lifted) will be EPRs due in large part to their long relationship with AREVA. Many utility companies have said they’ll be happy to buy the second one. We just have to get one built to break the logjam. There are good indications that this will indeed happen sooner rather than later.

Plasma converters are gaining traction too, and soon (within a year or two) it’ll be clear to all that this is the way garbage will be handled in the future. I’ll be delighted when people stop referring to me as a futurist. The boron car might be the last of the three to let me dispose of that categorization, but ultimately I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t make it into production. Still, I’ll be happy with 2 out of 3, since there are other options for zero-emission vehicle fuel. I just happen to think that that’ll turn out to be one of the best.


Completely off topic, but did anyone watch Lateline last night? Did you see the interview with Senator Steve Fielding – the one where he wanted to hear “both sides of the story” on climate change (after having been to a seminar hosted by the Heritage Institute). Since he claimed that he was willing to listen to the “other side of the story”, do you think we should call his bluff? In public. Maybe the scientific community should “invite” him to his own special seminar/workshop on climate change, so that we could present him with the scientific evidence (as opposed to the “facts and evidence” he was talking about in the interview). I know that we have umpteen dozen climate change seminars and workshops every year, as well as the Science Meets Parliament event, but maybe this is the moment to publicly invite him (and maybe Barnaby Joyce and Bob Katter – and any media who are interested) to a seminar convened especially for him, to answer any questions/concerns he may have, and present as much of the evidence as he wants to see? If we very publicly go out of our way to accommodate him, he won’t really be able to claim that we were trying to hide anything. What do you reckon?


Very, very, very good idea. Anybody up for it? I don’t think we should take for granted that the science has been properly communicated despite the best efforts such of blogs such as this


I alerted to this in comment 20 – 2nd June -“Another hockey stick fabrication” – a bit off topic I know::) No response, so I thought there was no interest. Thanks Barry for raising it here.


A new survey on nuclear power in Australia has just come out. Reasonable number in direct favour (21%), a lot in the ‘not sure’ but could be convinced basket (41%), and a tranche of folks still firmly opposed (38%) — many I suspect are not well versed on the issue, especially of IFR and similar technologies.

According to the survey, the NIMBY factor is still pretty strong. So I think it’s increasingly clear that the best way to get the first nukes built in Oz is in places like Ceduna, Whyalla, WA mining towns, etc. I reckon you could plonk 5-10 reactors along the coast away from cities for the first round, and then within 10 years after that, we can start putting them in the La Trobe and Hunter Valleys etc. The synergy between nuclear, solar, wind, wave and the need for UHVDC is compelling and beautiful.


But what to do about the Greens in all this? Is there any evidence that they are off first base w.r.t. IFR? Their nuclear blinkers is the only reason I have never joined them. Got to invite them along to any demonstration session.


> Greens

Show them the designs for the Improved Fissionable Reduction plant.

Works like this:

Feed it with fission waste material (old dangerous nuclear waste).
It converts the isotopes of transuranics to lighter elements, breaking them up.
It removes most of the long-lived and most difficult radioisotopes from nuclear waste.
The remainder is treated on site, making much smaller and less dangerous packages.
And the waste heat can be used for cogeneration!


Quite seriously — someone knowledgeable enough to do it honestly should work through the whole design description, and maybe the construction timeline, focusing on building a fissionables reduction plant. Hide nothing — it’s an IFR. But focus on the fact that it eats transuranics by flooding them with neutrons, and produces lighter elements with shorter decay paths from them.

Focus on the waste produced and how it will be handled, the volume involved, the time needed.

Point out that heat has to be removed to keep the thing running; if the heat isn’t removed it quits working and just sits there being useless (until it slowly cools down enough, and how long does that take, and what if everyone did walk away).

Describe the value of siting it right next to a working coal plant — at least an older less thermodynamically efficient one, that runs at the same operating temperature — so you can run the excess heat from the IFR through the coal plant’s system replacing the fuel for the boiler.

Yeah, that’s not as efficient as running it through a big radiator or cooling tower — you’re not cooling the IFR as effectively. Can that work?

Sometimes it really is the effort of describing the thing that’s needed.


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