1. “Knowing just how important an abundant, clean, reliable energy source can be to a country’s prosperity, one has to wonder why there was so much opposition to the concept during the 1990s and why that opposition still exists today.”
    Try asking Kerry, Gore, and Clinton.

  2. The IFR is promising, though it is a long-term, high-payoff technology.
    IMHO, based on what I’ve read about the (admittedly, limited) operational experience that Western nations have had with (sodium-based) LMRs, they often seem to work better when they’re small (EBR-I/II), seem to run into issues when they’re scaled, and seem to have a very long recovery time from issues. The experiences with Fermi 1, Superphenix, Monju, the USS Seawolf, etc. come to mind. Of course, one has to consider the Russian experiences with the successful BN-350 and the successful BN-600 (and the successful lead-bismuth Alfa-class cores) as counterexamples.
    Just a question – why not break the IFR down into more manageable chunks, like 105 MWth modules, rather than 840 MWth modules, at least to start, so you can get the system perfected and the kinks worked out prior to scaling? Then scale upward?

    1. @Dave – no argument from me. I am always curious about why some companies insist that a plant large enough to drive an aircraft carrier all by itself qualifies as a “small modular reactor”. I guess my idea of small is different from others.
      Brian – while I could pose the question for Kerry, Gore and Clinton here on the web, I do not have any illusions that they would participate in the discussion. Therefore, I am left with studying and analysis to try to figure out the answer to the “why” question. I certainly admit that I may be wrong, but the evidence is quite convincing – to me – that each of those people were strongly influenced by people who saw essentially unlimited, clean energy as a serious threat to their existing business interests.
      As I have described in the past, the Secretary of Energy at the time was a woman who spent much of her professional career marketing natural gas. So was the White House Chief of Staff. Senator Tim Wirth was in office during the time and probably supported the decision as a way to help his friends in the Colorado oil and gas industry. Here is a great video shot in July 2010 of a speech that he gave to COGA that not only describes what he has done for them in the past, but what he is doing today to help increase the demand for natural gas.
      Now, that video never mentions any effort to slow down nuclear, but it sure talks a lot about shutting down currently operating coal fired power plants. It seems pretty logical that everyone in the room would recognize that currently operating nuclear plants also take markets that could be supplied by natural gas.
      In fact, here is a link to a luncheon speech by Robert Kennedy, Jr. provided at the same Colorado Oil and Gas Association meeting.
      Anyone who lives in the NYC area will know that Bobby Jr. is a huge opponent of the continued operation of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Station and is actively working to force the plant to shutdown when its currrent license expires. The ties are circumstantial but deep and wide between anti-nuclear groups and the established oil and gas industry. In fact, I am pretty darned certain that the oil and gas industry has ganged up with the coal industry on the issue of forcing nuclear out of the energy supply business so that they would have a larger market to divvy up.
      Of course, as you will see if you watch the videos, that is an alliance that has its fissures as they fight amongst themselves for market share.

      1. Rod, in regard to the cast of characters in office at the time the IFR was shut down, add Frank von Hippel, who I believe was the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. Frank is an adamant opponent of fast reactors, for reasons best known to himself.

    2. I don’t remember any new nuclear plants approved during the Bush administration, so it’s not as if it’s purely a Democratic problem either. Of course, the <s>Cheney</s>Bush administration was up to its neck in connections with Big Oil/Gas…

      1. Considering that energy is the life-blood of our advanced economy, and that liquid fuels are the life-blood of our transportation sector, is it out of line to prefer someone who actually has some experience in those areas to be the leader of one branch of the Federal government rather than someone who hasn’t even run a lemonade stand?
        If you are going to build a significant infrastructure, would you want an organization that had shown expertise and competence in that area or would you allow some cobbled-together start-up take on that task? Apply that question to The Shaw Group or Bechtel or B&W when it comes to building new NPPs.
        The last I checked, a member of an administration must divest themselves of any business affiliations that may win contracts with the government during that person’s term in office. A blind trust? Perhaps someone can confirm or deny this. Thanks in advance.

  3. The occasional ‘anti-Democrat Party’ and conspiracy slant is getting a little tiresome. I am a very strong supporter of nuclear energy and have never voted for a Republican in 40 years of doing so. So, can we lay off the ‘us vs. them’. The reason these decisions were made was fear of proliferation – end of story. Whether justified or not, I believe that is the case. By the way, John Kerry is a supporter of nuclear energy at the present time and so is Bill Clinton. My wife spoke to him personally (we live in NH) and asked him what he thought about the fact that I had encouraged my son to enter the nuclear engineering program at UMass Lowell. He was very enthusiastic and in fact brought up small modular reactors and other ideas (whatever else you may think this is a very intelligent guy).
    Almost all opposition to nuclear can trace it’s origin to the connection of nuclear energy to nuclear weapons. The case just needs to continue being made that nuclear energy is safe and environmentally sound, as well as the only large-scale inexpensive source of energy that can replace coal.

    1. @SteveK9 – I hope you have not misinterpreted my comment. I have tried to make it very clear over the years that I do not blame or credit one party over another when it comes to support or discouragement of nuclear energy.
      I do, however, believe that at least some of the people who profess to be concerned about nuclear weapons are, in reality, concerned about the expansion of nuclear energy as a competitor to coal, oil and natural gas. It is not a “conspiracy theory”; I simply believe that it is human nature for some people to focus on their own narrowly defined interests. When it comes to competition in the energy market there are enormous sums of money at stake – plenty to tempt many people into protecting their own interests and those of their friends at the expense of others.
      My evidence for this with regard to the nonproliferation is the focus on preventing the development of fuel cycles like IFR even for nations that already have thousands of nuclear weapons, existing enrichment facilities and existing materials production reactors.

      1. Rod – this seems to be very true, and not some “conspiracy”.
        Why, it was just a few weeks ago that several “anti-proliferation” advocates on the right (including one of my favorite Bush Administration people, John Bolton – a man, who, singlehandedly, puts the “dip” in dips…diplomacy) were making remarks that appeared to be imbecilic about Buseshr, that it was Iran’s mad dash to the bomb or something. It seemed these right-wing commentators were really trying to use Buseshr being started up as some sort of pretext for a military attack on Iran, when there are very few people who have concerns about that reactor, a standard Russian LWR using LEU operated under safeguards, thorough international supervision, and with joint Russian control.
        There may be reasons to be concerned about Iran’s centrifuges, but there are no reasons to be concerned about their nuclear power plant. Or, if there are, they are illegitimate and being used as a pretext for other matters.

        1. @Dave — I, too, am dismayed at some of Mr. Bolton’s comments re: Iran’s nuclear power plant projects vs nuclear weapons potential. Although I appreciate the Ambassador’s strong defense of American interests and sovereignty, particularly in the cesspool that is the UN where Burkina Faso has the same vote as we do (and don’t take that as a snub of Burkina Faso-ians, it’s more a reflection of the scale of influence between our respective countries on the world stage), he seems to feed the ignorance revolving around NPPs and nuclear weapons.
          OTOH, it doesn’t help when the “leader” of Iran has voiced publicly his desire to see the extermination of another member of the UN – completely in contravention of the UN Charter – and I don’t remember hearing much of a unified response denouncing those statements from the UN leadership. Curious, eh?

          1. @DocForesight – do you have a link to the original quote? I have read about this supposed desire hundreds of times, but I do not speak Farsi and doubt that many who repeat the comment do either. It is so easy to twist language, even when you speak it fluently. I know that many of you have noticed a direct attempt on my part to slant my interpretations of what others have said, and I am not even trying to translate from a foreign tongue or from a culture with completely different ways of expressing nuances.
            Please do not take this as a defense of an oppressive regime. I do not like the way that the Iranian regime treats its people, especially its women and girls.
            I just happen to have some real questions about the way that the people with vested interests work to demonize others. We should remember that we supported Saddam in an eight year long war against Iran in which about a million Iranians died and in which our “guy” used chemical weapons.

  4. Great write-up by the way! I cannot describe how thrilled I was today to read a post from you promoting IFR/PRISM technology!

  5. “Greed” alone does not explain the real intention behind the anti-nuclear movement. Look at the post-World War II period, when Prince Philip and Prince Bernhard (the Nazi who quit the Nazi party in order to
    marry into the Dutch royal family) founded the World Wildlife Fund, to curb population and save world resources
    for the elite. Their motivation was population control and the destruction of the widespread industrial progress that Franklin Roosevelt’s programs had unleashed. Roosevelt, had he lived, would have ended colonialism and instituted modern technologies to uplift the populations of Africa and Asia. He opposed Churchill and his imperialism. Prince Philip still today wants to eliminate all but two billion people, and he personally directed the WWF and its many offshoots for that purpose.
    Atoms for Peace could have carried out what Roosevelt intended, giving nations the science and technology to provide for their populations. But it was stopped. How it was stopped is also the story of the deliberately imposed drug/rock/sex counterculture, that threw this country (and others) off the road of progress, into a Cold War, and into self-destruction and “post-industrialism.”
    Most “environmentalists” don’t look at the larger political picture. Nor do most nuclear advocates, who have
    latched on to “global warming,” which has the same Malthusian roots as the anti-nuclear movement.

    1. I don’t believe that the ’60s counterculture was the result of a conspiracy — more likely it resulted from:
      1) a confluence of previously-unheard-of US prosperity (thanks to the fact that most of rest of the world had been wrecked by WWII) which damaged the work ethic, and which combined with the aftershocks of the GI Bill to give an unprecedentedly high university attendance
      2) a fear of nuclear holocaust, which gave rise to a hedonistic “live for the moment” attitude and thus corroded traditional sexual morals.
      On man-made global warming, I’m unconvinced either way, but I do have deep suspicions that the anti-global-warming movement is at its heart a Malthusian movement.

        1. What’s up, Marje? Does a good rockin’ tune upset you?
          Any campaign for or against absolutely anything at all will get nowhere if it is based on a sermon on the evils of rock.

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