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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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By Chudilo on 4/15/2008 1:27:44 PM , Rating: 1
You people sound ridiculous.
Quit listening to what the media is trying to feed you and think for yourself.
If you think nuclear is so great, ask yourself this: Would you live within a line of sight of a nuclear plant?
Would you let your children play near the plant?
Well why not, if you think that it's so darn safe.

I am originally from and area within 130 kilometers of the Chernobyl plant. There are 3500 sq miles of beautiful and pristine farmland with rivers and lakes that now lies in waste. and will do so for the next 500 years. This is not your average ash pollution or an elevated level carbon dioxide in the direct surrounding area.

Clouds containing radiation from the accident have traveled great distances. Causing all sorts of mutations and cancers in many areas. Humanity still does not have all of the real data on long term effects of this thing.
If you think that US has not had any incidents , you better do some research. It only takes a couple of arrogant idiots or an extremely well executed plan to create destruction that has not seen an equal.
Beware what you are asking for.


By masher2 (blog) on 4/15/2008 2:25:41 PM , Rating: 3
Chernobyl was a design the US (and the rest of the world, except for the Soviets) rejected as being far too dangerous all the way back in the 1950s. The US's equivalent accident was TMI -- which proved the complete safety of the design. Not one single person was harmed by TMI, and no dangerous levels of radiation were released.

Meanwhile, the amount of daily environmental destruction from hundreds of coal-fired power plants continnues constantly. It's not sexy, so it doesn't get as much press...but tens of thousands of people die annually from health problems caused by coal pollution.

I won't even go into your exaggeration of the effects of Chernobyl. It's not relevant, as such runaway reactions are impossible with Western negative-void reactors...and we have far safer design on the books, should environmentalists ever allow us to build them.


By FITCamaro on 4/15/2008 2:31:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Would you live within a line of sight of a nuclear plant?


Yup. The high current power lines present more of a danger than the plant itself ever will.


By Haven Bartton on 4/15/2008 2:43:03 PM , Rating: 2
That's not really a great argument. I certainly wouldn't let my kid play near a coal/gas power plant either. Actually, I'd *rather* them play nearer a nuclear plant (if forced to choose). Barring some sort of significant disaster, there are no ill effects of simply breathing air near to the plant.

Chernobyl was an awful, terrible disaster, there is no doubt of that. But all sources of power have their inherent dangers. Just ask all the coal miners who get all sorts of respiratory diseases from their work. Just ask the soldiers dying in the Middle East (and not just Allied soldiers, taking all sides into consideration) to secure oil reserves (though of course there are other factors).

I'm no expert, but from what I do understand nuclear power is still the most efficient, cleanest, and altogether safest option we have. Most importantly, it's available right now, unlike alternatives such as solar panelling which is not yet efficient enough to use en masse.


By FITCamaro on 4/15/2008 3:29:42 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
and not just Allied soldiers, taking all sides into consideration


I really don't give a shit about the "soldiers" dying on the other side. They're murderers who don't even blink an eye at killing women and children.

quote:
to secure oil reserves


Yes thats why we're fighting. Because we're getting so much from Iraq's oil. The first oil contract out of Iraq went to China.


By nofranchise on 4/16/2008 4:33:41 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
Yes thats why we're fighting. Because we're getting so much from Iraq's oil. The first oil contract out of Iraq went to China.


So...why ARE you fighting?

Find any WMD's yet?


By mindless1 on 4/16/2008 5:38:50 AM , Rating: 1
Ah, good old stereotypes. ALL of the supposed enemy, every last soldier must be woman and child murderers. Seems pretty impossible their society could exist as it did at all if that were the case rather than the notible exceptions - even if those exceptions were higher than we or they would like.

Basically you are saying it's ok to kill men or boys, just not women or children? Maybe you're just using an excuse to hate? Perhaps in your attempt to find a target for your feelings of anger or powerlessness, you have been too eager to indict nameless faceless strangers?

Individuals do bad deeds, focus on that. If you want to think in terms of groups, in the good ole US of A, groups of people do some pretty terrible things too, then spewing some nonsense about group or herd mentality as if that excuses personal irresponsibility.

If you only mean a select few plural soldiers, not all of them, then a select few of the US soldiers aren't exactly saints either. The military, all volunteer militaries, tend to draw in those who are not just full of anger but want to act on it. Military - another convenient excuse for herd mentality, lack of personal responsiblity. It's just unfortunate the military is also a vital group with an important purose, or really I should write fortunate.

It's not the soldiers that are the problem. It's the leaders and lack of punishment for soldiers that cross the line.


By rcc on 4/15/2008 7:20:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you think nuclear is so great, ask yourself this: Would you live within a line of sight of a nuclear plant?


Yup, I do.
The kids surf near by. They love it. Little buggers don't even glow in the dark. They were hoping.

I'd much rather live here, then downwind of a coal or oil plant, thank you very much.


By mindless1 on 4/16/2008 5:23:19 AM , Rating: 1
Because I had a reasonable expectation that the area was far more heavily monitored, and if I had access to the environmental data to ease my mind, yes I would let my children play near the plant - but they'd also be taught what those sirens mean, as well as taught about what a car horn or many other indicators of potential harm are.


By djc208 on 4/16/2008 7:59:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you think nuclear is so great, ask yourself this: Would you live within a line of sight of a nuclear plant?


Every parent with a kid in the Navy basically does. If you live within sight of a naval base you most likely do as well. Every sailor on an aircraft carrier or submarine lives, eats, sleeps, works and (for subs) breaths on around and because of that reactor and no one thinks twice, because there's never been a reason for them to do so.

Truth is nuclear power is just like guns or hazerdous materials or even your car. You should be afraid of it, it's extremely dangerous and not to be taken lightly, but that doesn't mean they're bad, or that we shouldn't use them.


"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain














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