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Not quite a two-seater hybrid electric, but ORNL's new nuclear fuel promises to boost efficiency by as much as 900%.

U.S. Nuclear reactors are not known for their fuel efficiency. At a mere three to four percent burn-up, much of the uranium fuel is wasted and current reactors produce large amounts of unsightly nuclear waste. Advanced gas reactors may offer a better choice for the aging U.S. nuclear power posse.

Working together with the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the Babcock & Wilcox Company, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), with funding from the Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Science, has produced a new fuel for the high temperatures of advanced gas reactors. In tests conducted at the Advanced Test Reactor at INL, the fuel reached a nine percent burn-up, a near three-fold efficiency gain from traditional water-cooled nuclear plant fuel and halfway to the targeted 16 to 18 percent.

The fuel, produced in the ORNL Materials Science and Technology Division, is made up of thousands of tiny carbon and silicon carbide coated spheres of uranium, which are compressed into fuel sticks and loaded into a graphite form.

With growing concerns about nuclear reactor waste products, skeptical outlooks for the future of nuclear power and foreign companies selling mini-plants to U.S. customers, a new, more efficient fuel made in America is a ray of hope for U.S. nuclear power advocates. Though it will possibly never be without its own pollution problems, further refinement and research into fission reactors may yield a very efficient and comparatively clean energy generation model.

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RE: Nuclear waste is unneccessary
By Polynikes on 4/15/2008 11:04:09 AM , Rating: 3
I don't understand what kind of retarded political crap is stopping us. Why do we bury fuel? It's not like this stuff grows on trees. Like oil, there is a finite amount.

RE: Nuclear waste is unneccessary
By KingConker on 4/15/2008 12:33:00 PM , Rating: 2
Actually we (the UK) take all your waste Nuclear sh*t (depleted fuel rods)and process them.

We carefully make sure to use minimal security and due care when transporting the stuff - typically via rail so if it doesn't get delayed via a faulty signal and actually remain on the rails we can then process it with equally 'careful' attention. We don't actually want to do the work ourselves so we let the Polish our friends do it for us. They want to do a god job, but our unions prevent them from doing so and call a strike because 35 days annual leave is not enough.

In a typical Heath Robinson (bodge stylee) fashion we then stick it somewhere in the countryside and build a housing development on top because we can't remember where we buried it and then let all the chavs on benefit move in whilst we pay for their rent.

Built in Britain - God Save the Queen :)

RE: Nuclear waste is unneccessary
By Spuke on 4/15/2008 5:28:20 PM , Rating: 2
Built in Britain - God Save the Queen :)
But you're not bitter. ;)

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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