Is Nuclear Too Innovative?
Third Way
198

I basically agree with what the authors wrote. I don’t blame the industry for lack of innovation. I blame politicians and regulators. Not just the NRC. The DoE signal they want a: “cradle to grave” fuel cycle with anti-proliferation the first priority. That alone probably kills reactor designs incorporating reprocessing such as many Gen IV designs. If politicians and DoE regard reprocessing tech as “proliferation tech” then you won’t bet your company by going against the rules. You will innovate in China, or wherever they’ll let you.

In future — to survive the future nuclear power needs to get smaller — in plant size not in capacity output. Build (1) Gen IV reactors running at normal atmospheric pressures coupled with (2) Brayton turbine cycles. Done by levering (3) modular reactor (factory built) concepts. Such reactors will have (4) passive and intrinsic safety with no failures leading to large-scale radiation contamination. Such safety will be engineered in with automatic shutdown on loss of external cooling. The industry should aim for (5) construction times comparable to gas-turbine power plants. Because future NPPs should aim to be as small and simple as gas-turbines.

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