Plutonium Fuel Cycle: Under Attack

AEI would prefer to concentrate its efforts on discussing the incredible technical potential of nuclear energy while leaving the discussion of politics and personality to others. When trying to understand nuclear energy technical decisions, however, it is essential to understand some of the political issues involved. For the last 20 years, there has been an […]

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Liquid Metal Fast Breeder: Right Answer, Wrong Question

Soon after the development of the first nuclear reactors, scientists and engineers began to discuss the possibility of a nuclear fuel shortage. As far as these nuclear pioneers knew, there was a rather limited supply of uranium that was concentrated in certain areas of Africa and Eastern Europe. The situation was considered even more critical […]

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Light Water Breeder Reactor: Adapting A Proven System

At 12:30 am, on August 26, 1977, the operators at the Shippingport Atomic Power Station began lifting the central modules of the experimental breeder reactor core into the blanket section. At 04:38 am, the reactor reached criticality. During the next five years, the core produced more than 10 billion kilowatt-hours of thermal power – equivalent […]

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In the news: September 1995

Modern Hiroshima Described (August 7, 1995) (Knight-Ridder Newspapers) “This was supposed to have become a dead city, a toxic landscape so contaminated by radiation that nothing green would grow for generations. A nuclear desert – that’s what even some scientists saw in Hiroshima’s future. Instead, today’s Hiroshima is a thriving, flower-planted, ultramodern metropolis of 1-million […]

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Rocket Technology Applications: Machines With Limitless Capabilities

Under any circumstances, there is a very limited market for nuclear rockets. Even if space exploration is raised in the national priority list, the first mission to Mars would probably occur in about 2010. For at least a decade or more after that, trips would probably be infrequent at best. There would be some utility […]

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An Inside View: How Do Nuclear Rockets Work?

Before learning about nuclear rockets, we should take a quick detour to review how conventional rockets work. There is a perception that rockets are fiendishly complex devices that need to be serviced and designed by people whose intelligence is far removed from that of mere mortals. Often, people even use the term “rocket scientist” to […]

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Letter from the Editor: Confessions of a Stargazer

I have a confession. I am a science fiction and space travel fanatic. I watched with rapt attention during the “race to the moon” even though I was quite young. I dreamed of being an astronaut, and made several visits to the Kennedy Space Center. My personal library includes a large collection of books by […]

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U.S. Nuclear Rocket Programs

The Nuclear Engines for Rocket Vehicle Applications (NERVA) program officially began in 1961, when NASA issued a request for proposals and established the Space Nuclear Propulsion Office (SNPO). Various government laboratories had been studying the concept for several years, several contractors were already working on conceptual design, and space was a big topic of interest. […]

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In the news: August 1995

U.S. discussing MOX with Germans (June 29, 1995) A group of American officials visited the Siemens AG Hanau mixed oxide (MOX) nuclear fuels plant on June 27th. The officials are in Germany to discuss the use of the facility to manufacture MOX from Russian weapons program plutonium. MOX is made by combining plutonium dioxide with […]

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Nuclear Fission Vs. Combustion: Inexpensive Machines and Cheap Fuel

Nuclear fission is still in its adolescence, especially when compared to combustion, its major competitor. There is room for process innovations that will improve efficiency, increase flexibility and reduce machinery complexity. Changes in each of these areas offers the opportunity for major cost reductions. The next time you travel on a large jet, look out […]

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A Closer Look At Studies: Cost of Controlling Radiation Exposure

The nuclear industry has controlled radiation exposure for many years based on the principle of keeping doses As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA). In theory, this is not a bad standard, but a great deal of time and money hinge on interpretation of the word “reasonable.” In the nuclear industry, one of the most heavily […]

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Letter from the Editor: Economics of Electrical Energy

Before discussing nuclear energy economics, it might be useful to understand how power plant investment decisions are made by electrical utilities. It is a complex subject, but one that is worth a bit of study. Normal Commodity? If electrical power was a normal commodity, the question that would rule production capacity investment decisions is, “How […]

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