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  1. Rod, a wonderfully detailed and very insightful conference summary, which makes me feel like I was there (so now very glad I wasn’t). Thanks for writing and sharing this.

    Jim Schaefer’s quote, “Right now, to me, the greatest demand for any kind of energy product that has ever existed is the future need for advanced reactors,” seems to me to be particularly salient and accurate, however awkwardly phrased. Highlights in a subtle way the arbitrage-like investment opportunity for forward-thinking investors who recognize this inevitable future need despite the current market dislocation.

  2. Rod and Valerie,
    Yes I agree! Rod, thanks much for a very encouraging and detailed report. I’m also interested in getting more detailed reports on fuel recycling and waste storage which are related important subjects. To be more specific:

    Regarding fuel recycling: is there any progress on IFR-style, salt-based, electroplating-based, uranium-and-actinide-separating reprocessing, as in Oklo? My understanding is that the PUREX-style aqueous process was designed to purify Plutonium isotopes, but that the IFR-style process would be useful for separating weakly-radioactive unused Uranium and TRUs from strongly-radioactive fission by-products. This separation, in turn, could be useful for reducing radiotoxic storage lifetime requirements from many millennia to a few centuries. IFR-style reprocessing might also be more useful from a proliferation-reduction perspective.

    Regarding waste storage: if used fuel reprocessing results in a waste stream with shorter radiotoxic storage lifetime requirements, would that simplify the search for viable geologic tunnel or deep borehole sites?

    It seems that updates from previous Atomic Insights guests could shed light on these subjects.

    Thanks again for this week’s update!

    1. @Chris Aoki asks if there is any news on IFR-style molten salt fuel reprocessing, which was to be on-site, in a three-year cycle. If you are thinking of the Molten Chloride Reactors, the reprocessing might be off-site and delayed by many years.

      Reprocessing in the IFR was necessitated by accumulated radiation damage to the casings. Without casings or moderator in a MCR, it is the fuel itself that takes the impacts of fast neutrons. Being a liquid, momentum transfers from neutron impacts are instantly healed. We have yet to find out from the MCR Experiment what ages inside a liquid reactor to require a fuel cycle period.

      However, in an MCR, fission products would accumulate at a rate of one tonne per year per gigawatt. Much as Rod might say, the most secure place for short-lived fission products is inside a working reactor, so the operators are motivated to keep the reactor going, sealed up, rather than risk spills during a fuel conditioning process. If the breeding ratio is high enough to overwhelm the growing absorption by the FP’s, the reactor might be able to operate for many years. At end of life, its heavily used fuel would mature and cool down slowly inside the decommissioned reactor until its temperature dropped down near the 770° C melting point of KCl. With its burden of plutonium isotopes in fast-reactor equilibrium, the fuel might be deemed valuable enough for earlier reprocessing – off-site.

  3. So another optimistic report. Great!
    Let me repeat my somewhat vague questions. How easy would it be to site one of these new reactors? Would they need a small army of Security people? Years ago nuclear plants had to be 40 miles away from major metropolitan areas. Could they actually receive permission to occupy old coal plant sites? I just wonder if the regulations have been revised to be more realistic for the coming era.

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