Friday, April 02, 2010

Super-safe Sub-critical Reactors Driven by Accelerator

If you pump neutrons into a subcritical fissionable fuel assembly to create fission, you can control the fission reaction -- analogous to controlling the speed of an internal combustion engine with a carburetor or metered fuel injectors.
Brian Wang has a lot more information on this approach, and other fascinating new approaches to nuclear power. Apparently the cost of pumping neutrons has dropped considerably with the coming of cheaper superconducting particle accelerators for generating proton beams -- which generate spallation neutrons.
Eventually the neutron source for these reactions will come from fusion reactors, but for now the idea is to use a linear accelerator to produce spallation neutrons, to drive the sub-critical fuels to fission.

Also check out how existing nuclear reactors can be uprated to produce between 20% and 50% more power -- using annular fuel rod technology.

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