795 Advanced nuclear power systems to mitigate climate change

Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Charles Archambeau, Science Council for Global Initiatives, Boulder, CO; and T. Blees, Y. Chang, R. J. Peterson, R. Serafin, J. Shuster, E. Velikhov, and R. Ware

Handout (1.0 MB)

Fossil fuels supply about 80% of the humankind's primary energy. Given the technical, logistical and economic challenges of carbon capture and storage on a scale anywhere close to what would be needed to deal with all that carbon, we are faced with the necessity of a nearly complete transformation of the world's energy systems. Objective analysis of wind, solar, and other less-developed renewable energy technologies inevitably demonstrate that they will fall far short of today's energy demands and the certain increased demands of the future. Nuclear power, however, is capable of providing all the energy that mankind requires, though the prospect of such a massive deployment raises questions of uranium shortages, greatly increased energy and environmental impacts from mining and fuel enrichment, etc. These potential roadblocks can all be dispensed with through the use of fast reactors and fuel recycling. The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR), developed at U.S. national laboratories in the latter years of the last century, can economically and cleanly supply all the carbon-free energy the world needs without any further mining or enrichment of uranium. Instead of utilizing a mere 0.6% of the potential energy in uranium, IFRs capture all of it. Capable of utilizing troublesome waste products already at hand, IFRs can solve the spent fuel problem while powering the planet with carbon-free energy for nearly a millennium before any more uranium mining would even have to be considered. Designed from the outset for unparalleled safety and proliferation resistance, this technology is unrivaled in its ability to solve the most difficult energy problems facing humanity in the 21st century.
- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner