Some nuclear energy developers are now promoting what they call “advanced” reactor designs as a solution. Unlike light-water reactors, these non-light-water designs rely on materials other than water for cooling, including liquid sodium, helium and molten salt. Some developers contend these reactors, which are still in the concept stage, will solve all the problems that plague light-water reactors and be ready for prime time by the end of the decade. The siren song of a cheap, safe and secure nuclear reactor in the offing has attracted the attention of Biden administration officials and some key members of Congress, who are looking for any and all ways to curb carbon emissions. But are so-called advanced reactors merely the latest version of nuclear wishful thinking? A comprehensive Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) analysis of non-light-water reactor concepts in development suggests they are. Published in mid-March, the 140-page report found that these designs are no better — and in some respects significantly worse — than the light-water reactors in operation today. The report, “Advanced” Isn’t Always Better, assesses the pros and cons of three main types of non-light-water reactors: sodium-cooled fast reactors, high-temperature gas-cooled reactors and molten salt–fueled reactors. It rates each type on three broad criteria: safety; nuclear proliferation and terrorism risks; and sustainability, which refers to how efficiently they use uranium and how much long-lived nuclear waste they generate.
Clean Technica 16th June 2021 read more »