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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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Clarification please ?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/15/2008 6:30:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
U.S. Nuclear reactors are not known for their fuel efficiency.


This implication here, is that other countries are using more advanced high efficiency reactors ?

I'm pretty sure we're on the cutting edge of efficient nuclear reactors. If your going to make a statement like this, I feel you should provide comparison data on other countries and how much more " efficient " their reactors are.




RE: Clarification please ?
By Phillipma on 4/15/2008 9:15:34 PM , Rating: 2
You are quite mistaken. Because of the ban on building new nuclear reactors, the US has quite old reactors compared to countries that are currently allowed to build new reactors.

Do we have designs that are as you say on the "cutting edge of efficient nuclear reactors"? Absolutely, but since we can't build them and put them into operation they aren't doing us much good.

Once the new reactors start being built and producing electricity then you will see how quickly all these people change sides.


RE: Clarification please ?
By Durrr on 4/15/2008 9:50:21 PM , Rating: 2
The most efficient designs are in fact designed in the US at various universities, however, the designs are actually employed mostly in France and Japan.

I forget exactly what year, but there has been a moratorium on new reactor designs allowed to be employed for some time. Only the US Navy which operates outside the DOE was able to do R&D with new reactor designs and actually employ them.


RE: Clarification please ?
By mindless1 on 4/16/2008 5:42:19 AM , Rating: 2
You are mistaken with your idea that if someone expresses a fact, or opinion, that differs with your own, that it is then THEIR burden to prove something you didn't bother to yourself. You are the one making the claim this is incorrect and as such it is you who has the initial contradictory burden if anyone does.


RE: Clarification please ?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/16/2008 4:39:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You are mistaken with your idea that if someone expresses a fact, or opinion, that differs with your own, that it is then THEIR burden to prove something you didn't bother to yourself. You are the one making the claim this is incorrect and as such it is you who has the initial contradictory burden if anyone does.


Who, what, when, where, why. The five W's of good journalism. If this simple rule every fifth grader is taught is always used, then there would be be no burden of proof.

Until I see some numbers, I'm going to assume our reactors rock your face :P


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