The trial of the Oklo microreactor is remarkable enough, in that it rebuilds the US experience base with metal-fuelled fast reactors, lost through the killing of the EBR2 project in 1994. However it also starts up a supply chain for 20% LEU fuel, also known as HALEU.
Once HALEU can be commercially ordered, trials of fast reactors such as Toshiba's 4S can resume. A future for the fuelling of fleets of fast reactors may lie ahead of us in the West. (A fleet of fast reactors is already being planned for 2050-2100 in China).
HALEU is also integral to Russia's REMIX process proposed for a closed cycle in fast or slow reactor fuel. Here the actinides U+Pu are extracted from freshly used fuel, topped up with HALEU, and returned to the same reactor to close the cycle.
HALEU is already special in that the higher separation means early removal from the cycle of a higher proportion of the easy-to-handle DU, depleted uranium. Correspondingly a reprocessing cycle using HALEU generates a smaller proportion of the more radioactive RepU, reprocessed uranium containing traces of short lived actinides.
Thanks, DBB, for the tip. The X-300 could be a game-changer. Rod Adams concludes:
"Bottom line is that GEH's X-300 is a formidable competitive entrant into the smaller reactor field. If the company fully supports the project with its considerable financial and political heft, the product could be a resounding success."
Post by Roger Clifton on May 5, 2020 12:26:46 GMT 9.5
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is inviting public comment to contribute to the assessment of a generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) for advanced small nuclear reactors. The interesting thing to me is that they are specifically referring to reactors cooled by other than water – liquid sodium, liquid fluoride, etc.