Auto Manifesto

August 25, 2009

The Nuclear Option

With all the activity surrounding electric vehicles, the power grid and alternative power sources, it's high time more attention was paid to the potential of nuclear energy.

Some people have visceral reactions to the concept, but if we dig deeper we see that (surprise!) it's not as simple as public perception would have us believe. There are various types of nuclear power and what is already in use is perhaps not the best for our needs.

One interesting type I've come across is called the Integral Fast Reactor. This program was begun in 1984 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in Illinois. Unfortunately it was canceled in 1994 by Congress before it was completed [This reads like background to a sci-fi movie].

According to this article, the crux of the concept is that it is much more efficient than light water reactors that are now widely used. As such the process would produce a fraction of the nuclear waste of today's reactors, the waste would have a shorter lifespan (400 years vs 10,000 years) and it could use nuclear waste we already have.

This is the ultimate recycling process. Use nuclear waste that we already have. The figures presented are staggering in terms of the amount of energy, the timeframes and perhaps the costs. But what's a possible solution to an energy crisis worth? This is an alternative that's worth revisiting.

Sources: Wikipedia,
Steve Kirsch

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