Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

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

Friday, September 14, 2018

U.S. fast test reactor will pay dividends | Science

U.S. fast test reactor will pay dividends | Science: In his News story “Congress pushes for multibillion-dollar nuclear reactor that critics call a boondoggle” (3 July, [https://scim.ag/Reactor][1]), A. Cho discusses the proposed Versatile Fast Neutron Source, a test reactor that many in the research community deem important to build. We agree with the nuclear scientists and engineers who support the fast reactor. Technology advances when the tools are available. The fast reactor will enable potentially groundbreaking advances in nuclear energy technology and materials science.

If the United States does not have a fast test reactor, our nuclear innovators will have no option but to use the dwindling number of fast test reactors available in other countries. For example, TerraPower, a U.S. nuclear reactor design company, has been forced to rely on a test reactor in Russia for essential materials testing ([ 1 ][2]).

As explained in the News story, some don't like the idea of a new American fast-neutron test reactor. But today's commercial reactors, workhorse anchors of the power grid and by far our largest source of emissions-free energy ([ 2 ][3]), are just the beginning of what nuclear energy can do. New technologies promise higher

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