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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 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.


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