and psychologically, by the cancellation of the CRBR. Nevertheless, the LMFBR still commands industrial support because of this commitment

Reprocessing followed the same course of strong federal encouragement, industrial commitment, and federal foreclosure. The industry is not likely to commit itself again to similar projects. Future reactor development and commercialization will probably require much more federal capital, with the industry assuming the role of developers, component vendors, and operators under contract. It is difficult to quantify the difference this might make, but it could tilt development schedules in favor of the LMFBR, relative to other reactors, by 2–5 years. This would contribute to the head start the LMFBR already has by virtue of a large array of developmental facilities: among others, the Fast Flux Test Facility at Richland, Washington, the Large Components Test Facility at Santa Susana, California, and the EBR-II and other major experimental reactors operated by Argonne National Laboratory at the National Reactor Test Station, Idaho. Exchange of noncommercial information between the United States and foreign countries operating breeders in the 300-MWe class (Great Britain and France) could also help accelerate the LMFBR’s schedule.

BREEDERS VERSUS ADVANCED CONVERTERS

The most important point of comparison among reactor types and fuel cycles is likely to be contingent on their appropriateness under the conditions prevailing when a market appears for a new system, The conditions that dominate will be the accrued and projected growth of demand for electricity, the availability of uranium resources, the competitive economics of electrical generation, and the measures adopted to discourage or forestall diversion and proliferation.

The following conditions (not all of equal weight) would favor the use of fast breeder reactors over advanced converters in the United States.

  • The demand for electricity in the United States grows steadily after the year 2000.

  • Total domestic uranium resources are found to be at the low end of recent estimates.

  • Very little intermediate-grade uranium ore is found that can be produced at costs in the range of $100–$200/lb.

  • The world growth of nuclear capacity in conventional light water reactors exerts pressure on the United States to export some of its uranium or enriched fuel (or both) to offset the balance-of-payments deficit from oil imports, to discourage recycle of fissile isotopes or installation of breeder reactors elsewhere, or to meet other needs.



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