Generation IV nuclear

The Economist has an article summarizing a few possible next-generation fission reactor technologies. They include the Supercritical water-cooled reactor (SCWR), the Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR), the Sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR), the Gas-cooled fast reactor (GFR), the Lead-cooled reactor (LFR), and the Molten-salt reactor (MSR). Most promise higher efficiency than conventional pressurized water reactors, largely because they run at a higher temperature. Some are also capable of using more esoteric forms of fuel. For instance, the MSR can use thorium once it has been ‘seeded.’

The article doesn’t give too much consideration to the many challenges facing the nuclear industry: cost, chief among them. Given how opaque the costs of nuclear are, it is hard to know whether existing reactor technologies are really cost-competitive with renewables now, much less untested new variants.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

5 thoughts on “Generation IV nuclear”

  1. If a company wants to take on all the risks of nuclear (waste, accidents, etc) then more power to them. Of course, that will never happen. Taxpayers will ultimately be the ones paying for financial cock-ups and accidents with their money and lives.

  2. True, but that goes for climate change risks too.

    Coal companies aren’t going to pay to deal with all the consequences of their emissions.

  3. Fair enough. Taxpayers often end up getting shafted in a capitalist regime, it seems.

  4. India will build a working Thorium reactor. [Quoting the Guardian] ‘Officials are currently selecting a site for the reactor, which would be the first of its kind, using thorium for the bulk of its fuel instead of uranium – the fuel for conventional reactors. They plan to have the plant up and running by the end of the decade.'” Before anyone gets too excited, this is only a modified Heavy Water Reactor and not one of those fancy Molten Salt Reactors folks like Kirk Sorenson have been evangelizing for a while now.

  5. Generation IV nuclear energy systems: IRSN presents an overview of the “safety potential” of the systems studied in the context of the Generation IV International Forum

    The « Generation IV International Forum » (GIF), created in 2000 by the United States Department of Energy (US/DOE), coordinates research and development work aimed at deploying Generation IV nuclear energy systems (reactors and the related fuel cycle facilities), by the second half of this century.

    In this framework, the GIF has selected six systems among those proposed by the participating countries, including France:

    * Sodium-cooled Fast Reactors (SFR);
    * Very High Temperature Reactors, with thermal neutron spectrum (VHTR);
    * Gas-cooled Fast Reactors (GFR);
    * Lead-cooled Fast Reactors or Lead-Bismuth Eutectic (LBE) cooled Fast Reactors (LFR);
    * Molten Salt Reactors (MSR), with fast or thermal neutron spectrum;
    * SuperCritical Water Reactors (SCWR), with fast or thermal neutron spectrum.

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