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By Charles Rhodes, P.Eng., Ph.D.

There are two methods of producing nuclear energy, fission and fusion. Both methods are explored on this web site.

However, from an electricity utility perspective nuclear energy released via fast neutron fission of heavy elements is the only practical source of non-fossil energy that can sustainably and economically completely displace fossil fuels.

The status of nuclear power world wide in November 2018 is concisely summarized on a slide set prepared by Prof. Igor Pioro of U.O.I.T.

The sun is powered by fusion so renewable energy is actually fusion energy. However, due to the rotation of planet Earth about its axis and due to the inclination of that axis with respect to Earth's orbital plane at any particular point on Earth's surface renewable energy generation is both intermittent and seasonal. Solar and wind electricity generators require efficient daily and seasonal energy storage and related efficient long distance transmission to convert interruptible electricity into uninterruptible electricity. These storage and transmission costs are usually prohibitive. It is usually more practical to price uninterruptible electricity and interruptible electricity differently so that applications which require uninterruptible electricity pay the related extra costs.

Advances in Fast Neutron Reactor (FNR) technology have rendered obsolete past concerns about reactor safety and reactor spent fuel waste disposal. However, the present wasteful use of the limited inventories of U-235 and Pu-239 as fuels for water moderated reactors is an enormous concern. As fossil fuels are phased out until fast neutron reactors with fuel recycling are fully implemented the sustainable amount of uninterruptible power will be constrained by the limited available U-235 and Pu-239 inventories.

Another concern is squandering of limited public resources on development of new reactor types that are not fuel sustainable. It is imperative to apply the limited public resouces to development of liquid sodium cooled fast neutron reactors (FNRs), because these FNRs provide the only reactor technology that can sustainably and economically displace fossil fuels. An advantage of liquid sodium over other liquid metals is that it is long term chemically compatible with the steel components required for economic nuclear power reactor fabrication.

Other than via renewable energy, fusion based electricity generation is difficult and expensive to realize on Earth. For simple thermodynamic reasons, as long as low cost fission fuel is available, the cost per kWhe of Earth based fusion energy generation will remain several times the cost per kWhe of Earth based fission energy generation.

The possible avenues of future nuclear fuel cost relief are breeding of Pu-239, U-233 and H-3 in FNRs and mining He-3 from the surface of the moon. In theory it is possible to breed H-3 in fusion reactors, but sustaining controlled fusion reactions on Earth is extremely difficult. The problems include a low density plasma, a small fusion reaction cross section and large ongoing plasma energy loses via energetic neutron emission. The fusion reactor size required for a self sustaining fusion chain reaction is too large for practical construction.

1. Nuclear Motivation 2. Nuclear Technologies
3. Sustainable Nuclear Power 4. Modular Reactors
5.Electricity Generation Reactors 6. Reactor Design Constraints
1. CANDU Reactors 2. Fast Neutron Reactors
3. Molten Salt Reactors 4. FNR Initial Fuel Sources
5. Ottensmeyer Plan 6. Ottensmeyer Plan Detail
7. Ottensmeyer Plan Implementation 8. FNR Sodium
9. FNR Material Recycling 10. Non-Proliferation
11. FNR Specifications 12. FNR Design
13. FNR Mathematical Model 14. FNR Fuel Rods
15. FNR Fuel Tubes 16. FNR Fuel Tube Wear
17. FNR Fuel Bundle 18. FNR Blanket
19. Liquid Sodium Guard Band 20. FNR Primary Liquid Sodium Flow
21. FNR Heat Exchange Tubes 22. FNR Intermediate Heat Exchange Bundles
25. FNR Control 26. FNR Reactivity
27. FNR Siting 28. FNR Safety
29. Energy Policy 30. Open Letter to G-20 Government Leaders
1. Radiation Safety 2. Nuclear Waste Categories
3. Nuclear Waste Disposal 4. Helium-3 Recovery
5. NWMO / OPG 6. Radio Isotope Dry Storage
7. Radio Isotope Containers 8. Porcelain
9. Radio Isotope Container Seals 10. Seepage
11. DGR Ventilation 12. Jersey Emerald
13. DGR Closing Remarks 14. Nuclear Waste Disposal Press Release
15. Nuclear Education 16. Presentation Notes
17. Pickering Advanced
Recycle Complex (PARC)
18. Letter To Federal Political Leaders
19. Letter to Minister of Environment
and Climate Change, Ontario
20. Letter to Mininster of Environment
and Climate Change, Canada
21. U of T 17-02-09 Slide Presentation 22. U of T Presentation
Fusion section is currently being reconstructed.
Please examine this section at a later date.
1. PIF Glossary 2. Nuclear Fusion Prospect
3. Plasma Impact Fusion 4. Nuclear Fusion Engineering Considerations
5. D-T Fusion Fuel 6. Spherical Compression Part A
7. Adiabatic Compression 8. Fusion Output
9. Liquid Lead Constraints 10. Spherical Compression Part B
11. Random Plasma Properties 12. PIF Process
13. Liquid Lead Shell Formation 14. Pressure Vessel
15. Port Valves 16. Process Timing
17. Tritium Breeding18.
19. Spheromak Compression 20. Real Plasma Spheromaks
21. Spheromak Generator 22. Plasma Spheromak Lifetime
23. Vacuum Pumping Constraints 24. Liquid Lead Pumping
1. Micro Fusion Introduction 2. Micro Fusion FAQ
3. Micro Fusion Energy Flows 4. Micro Fusion Economics
5. Micro Fusion Regulatory Hurdles 6. Alumina Cylinder
7. Micro Fusion International

It is the intent of this author to eventually produce web pages addressing all of the above mentioned topics.

This web page last updated October 28, 2018.

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