Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major Energy and Environmental News and Commentary affecting the Nuclear Industry.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advanced Nuclear Power Reactors

Advanced Nuclear Power Reactors

(Updated October 2011)
  • The next two generations of nuclear reactors are currently being developed in several countries. 
  • The first (3rd generation) advanced reactors have been operating in Japan since 1996.  Late 3rd generation designs are now being built. 
  • Newer advanced reactors have simpler designs which reduce capital cost.  They are more fuel efficient and are inherently safer. 
The nuclear power industry has been developing and improving reactor technology for more than five decades and is starting to build the next generation of nuclear power reactors to fill new orders.
Several generations of reactors are commonly distinguished.  Generation I reactors were developed in 1950-60s, and outside the UK none are still running today.  Generation II reactors are typified by the present US and French fleets and most in operation elsewhere.  Generation III (and 3+) are the Advanced Reactors discussed in this paper.  The first are in operation in Japan and others are under construction or ready to be ordered.  Generation IV designs are still on the drawing board and will not be operational before 2020 at the earliest.
About 85% of the world's nuclear electricity is generated by reactors derived from designs originally developed for naval use.  These and other second-generation nuclear power units have been found to be safe and reliable, but they are being superseded by better designs.
Reactor suppliers in North America, Japan, Europe, Russia and elsewhere have a dozen new nuclear reactor designs at advanced stages of planning, while others are at a research and development stage.  Fourth-generation reactors are at concept stage.
Third-generation reactors have:
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