TABLE 1–5 Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles; Development Status

Reactor Type

Fuel Cycles

Development Status

Possible Commercial Introduction in the United Statesa

Light water reactor (LWR)

Slightly enriched U (~3 percent 235U)

Commercial in United States

1960

Spectral-shift-control reactor (SSCR)

Th-Ub

Conceptual designs, small experiment run; borrows LWR technology

1990; fuel cycle, 1995 or laterc

Light water breeder reactor (LWBR)

Th-Ub

Experiment running; borrows LWR technology; fuel cycle not developed

1990; fuel cycle, 1995 or laterc

Heavy water reactor (CANDU or HWR)

Natural uranium

Commercial in Canada, some U.S. experience

1990

 

Slightly enriched U (~1.2 percent 235U)

Modification of existing designs

1995

 

Th-Ub

Modification of designs; fuel cycle not developed

1995

High-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR)

Th-Ub

Demonstration running; related development in Germany; fuel cycle partly developed

1985; fuel cycle, 1995 or laterc

Molten-salt (breeder) reactor (MSR or MSBR)

Th-Ub

Small experiment run; much more development needed

2005

Liquid-metal fast breeder reactor (LMFBR)

U-Pub

Many demonstrations in the United States and abroad*

1995

 

Th-Ub

Fuel cycle not developed

1995

Gas-cooled fast breeder reactor (GCFBR)

U-Pub

Th-Ub

Concepts only; borrows LMFBR and HTGR technology

2000

aBased on the assumption of firm decisions in 1978 to proceed with commercialization. No institutional delays have been considered except those associated with adapting foreign technology. On the basis of light water reactor experience, it can be estimated that it would take about an additional 15 years after introduction to have significant capacity in place.

bIndicated fuel cycles demand reprocessing.

cThorium-uranium fuel reprocessing is less developed than uranium-plutonium reprocessing. Indicated reactors could operate for several years before accumulating enough recyclable material for reprocessing.

*Statement 1–28, by J.P.Holdren: Fuel reprocessing with the short turnaround time, high throughput, and high plutonium recovery needed to make the LMFBR perform as advertised remains undemonstrated.



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