A documentary called New Fire was released promoting ‘advanced’ nuclear power concepts last year. The heroes of the film were young entrepreneurs Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie, founders of a start-up called Transatomic Power that was developing a ‘Waste-Annihilating Molten-Salt Reactor’.
Problems arose during the long gestation of New Fire. Transatomic Power gave up on its plan to use nuclear waste as reactor fuel after its theoretical calculations were proven to be false, and the waste-annihilating reactor was reinvented as a waste-producing, uranium-fuelled reactor.
Worse was to come: just before the release of New Fire, Transatomic Power went broke and collapsed altogether. An epic fail.
But the ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector isn’t advanced and it isn’t advancing.
The next ‘advanced’ reactor to commence operation will be Russia’s floating nuclear power plant, designed to help exploit fossil fuel reserves in the Arctic ‒ fossil fuel reserves that are more accessible because of climate change. That isn’t ‘advanced’ ‒ it is dystopian.
‘Advanced’ nuclear reactors are advancing climate change. Another example comes from Canada, where one potential application of small reactors is providing power and heat for the extraction of hydrocarbons from tar sands.
Some ‘advanced’ reactors could theoretically consume more nuclear waste than they produce. That sounds great ‒ until you dig into the detail.
An article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists ‒ co-authored by Allison Macfarlane, a former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission ‒ states that “molten salt reactors and sodium-cooled fast reactors – due to the unusual chemical compositions of their fuels – will actually exacerbate spent fuel storage and disposal issues.”
Read more at The ‘advanced’ nuclear power sector is dystopian