On the Technological Progressions of Controlled, Commercialized Uranium Fission for Utilization in the Betterment of the Human Race

Created By:Brian Hallee

Advisor: Dr. Eric Moore

Submitted in requirements for Physics 490, January 21, 2010

Outline:
I. II. Introduction Quick History of Fission a. b. c. d. e. III. IV. How it was Discovered Why Fission was Deemed Important The Significance of Uranium (and Plutonium), and its Enrichment The Controversy Surrounding Fission and specifically Sustained Fission The Chicago Pile No. 1

Basics of Nuclear Power Plant Design Antiquated Thermal Reactors a. b. c. The Reason for Thermal Reactors Natural Uranium Graphite-Moderated Reactors i. Magnox Reactors Enriched-Uranium Graphite-Moderated Reactors i. Advanced Air-Cooled (AGR s) ii. Helium Cooled (HTGR s) iii. RBMK s

V.

Modern Thermal Reactors a. Natural Uranium Deuterium-Oxide-Moderated Reactors i. The Science and Significance of Heavy Water ii. CANDU Reactors Boiling Water Reactors Pressurized Water Reactors

b. c. VI.

Fast Neutron Reactors a. b. The Need for Fast-Breeder Reactors Liquid Metal-Cooled Fast Breeder Reactors

VII.

Nuclear-Based Prospects for the 21st Century a. The Advancement of Fission i. Proliferation Concerns ii. Advancements in Waste Disposal iii. Refining Spent Fuel

iv. Cost

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Commencing with the discoveries leading up to controlled, commercialized uranium fission, how have technological progressions impacted nuclear reactor design over the past seven decades leading up to the nuclear-based energy alternatives presented to the human race entering 2011?

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Abstract

The continuing of investment into the engineering of nuclear fission is of utmost importance, as its application remains to be one of the only emission-free commercially viable energy sources in the mid- to long-term future. Researchers remain divided on properties that bestow greater reliability and feasibility in the core of fission reactors. This report will aim at briefly describing the progress of such research over the previous decades, and shedding light on properties such as the moderation techniques and figures, coolant cycles, fuel cladding, steam generation, and accident protection currently used by the most current and/or prominent reactors such as the Pressurized Water Reactor, Canadian Heavy Water reactor, Magnox, and others. The qualitative theory behind the engineering of such reactors and the significant facts and figures announced through this report arederived from both current and historic experimental research. Taking into account the widely publicized, fast approaching energy pinch, and the need for a carbon-free backbone to offset the collection of greenhouse gases, this report aims to describe the technological progressions that have impacted nuclear reactor design over the past seven decades to place atomic energy into perspective as a viable twenty-first century alternative.

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Introduction
Owing to the fact that experience is the paramount instructor, howexactly have technological progressions impacted nuclear reactor design over the past seven decades leading up to the nuclear-based energy alternatives presented to the human race entering 2011?In a world populated by almost 7 billion people, and with an ever-increasing percentage of them making the transition to modern, Watt-hungry lifestyles, we are in dire need of a major reform in the technology used to deliver those Watts to the average household. Fossil fuels performed beautifully when called upon to power the industrial revolution of Western societies and to combust in relatively small engines to allow individualized transportation to the average citizen. However, we have been long aware of the detriments of using such fuels in a wanton manner and have had a relatively long time to make the transition to other forms of energy. It has been made obvious that burning fossil fuels is not only a finite process in term of how long supplies will last, it also wreaks havoc on the Earth s ecosystem via the creation of greenhouse gases,Carbon soot, and accidental spills and leakages, to name a few. While every realistic form of mass-energy production has its downfalls, one short-to-mid-term solution seems to be nuclear fission. This solution was palpably realized in the middle 20th century, and was undertaken quite radically in many countries following World War II. Unfortunately, as with all technologies, periodic failures or upsets occur that are either unforeseen or mishandled. A mixture of carelessness and lack of operator training led to two widely publicized reactor accidents, (Chernobyl and Three Mile Island), and practically drove the industry into the ground in the U.S. and some other nations for almost two decades. Nevertheless, nuclear-based energy is once again taking center stage as the energy of the
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future, and it is a fascinating journey to review the major developments that have come about from the study of nuclear reactor technology. Likewise, it is interesting to note how countries have developed their own reactor types after breaking off from an ancestor reactor technology developed long ago. Engineers wishing transform nuclear energy into a prominent supplier to the world s grid should aim to study and learn from the lessons both antiquated and modern reactor technologies have taught us.

The History of Nuclear Fission
While there are multitudes of physical discoveries that can be credited with progressing humankind s understanding of nuclear physics dating back to the ages of Greek philosophers1, the realization that an atom can fracture and separate into elements of smaller atomic mass did not come until the early 20th century. Arbitrarily speaking, perhaps the most striking discovery that placed physics on the fast-track to Uranium fission was the discovery of the transmutation of elements by Ernest Rutherford (alongside Frederick Soddy) in 1902.2Rutherford proved that when atoms undergo radioactive decay and emit subatomic matter, they have the propensity for changing into other elements after a certain amount of matter has been released. This discovery was so fundamentally ground shaking, in large part due to its comparison to alchemy, that the work garnered Rutherford the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 1908.3Rutherford also takes credit for the next giant leap forward in fissionphysics when he used the inherently radioactive element Radium to bombard Nitrogen with alpha-particles until the nuclei was said to have disintegrated.
4

While he was correct in this

postulation, his student Patrick Blackett made use of a cloud chamber to photograph the scene

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and prove that the Nitrogen had been converted into Oxygen. This observation proved two principles. First, it solidified the notion that atoms are made of itinerant subatomic particles (At this point, only protons and electrons were known to exist, as the neutron was not discovered for over another decade5). Secondly, subatomic particles were able to mingle and overcome repulsive forces to form larger elements (namely, fuse the nuclei together). Standing on the shoulders of Rutherford and James Chadwick withtheir discovery of atomic transmutation and neutrons, respectively, Ernest Walton and Jon Cockroft assembled a primitive particle accelerator made up of common parts found in the Cavendish Laboratory in 1932.6The apparatus stripped Hydrogen of its electron (ionizing it), and shot it toward a blanket of Lithium splitting the individual atoms into Helium atoms. Again, there were two significant consequences stemming from this discovery. Naturally, it was now obvious that nuclei wielded the power to not only fuse together but split according to the elements properties. In fact, a standardized technical term was developed to characterize elements on their ability to split. An atom is deemed fissile if it readily splits into two fission products (elements of smaller mass that nearly add up to the mass of the original atom) when bombarded with neutrons. However, the more important realization came after the initial discovery: that two Helium nuclei had more energy than the Hydrogen and Lithium. Careful measurements proved that this was due to Einstein s law of relativity stating that rest mass can be converted to energy, but total energy and mass are conserved7 via eqn. 1.   (eqn. 1)

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The constant of proportionality in eqn.1 is the speed of light, thereby limiting significant energy-mass transfer to near-relativistic objects. Because the mass decreased, heat flowed to the Helium nuclei and this prospect immediately piqued interest in many a scientist and engineer at that time; so much so that bothWalton and Cockroft were awarded the 1951 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work.8 The reason for Uranium taking center stage in the fission world is thanks to Enrico Fermi who later became the authority of all things fission-related in the United States. His 1934 Italian team found that bombarding Uranium with neutrons created two smaller elements, and simultaneously postulated that the neutrons have a higher propensity to react with the nuclei if they are thermal or slowed by a moderator.9 This concept was a monumental achievement, and went on to be used in almost all reactor types in the following decades. Allegedly independent of learning about Fermi s discovery, physicist Leo Szilard wrote about and patented his postulation that elements who fission and release extra neutrons have the possibility of starting a chain reaction. Many physicists doubted him at the time. Szilard even began doubting himself after failing to observe his postulation with many lighter elements. Even so, his analysis was eventually deemed correct and was quickly applied to Uranium to set the stage for both controlled and bomb-quality chain reactions.10 While the prospect of obtaining energy from the bonds of atoms was indeed exciting, the international collaboration involved in its engineering was relatively slim due to its lack of proven commercial viability. The discoveries that followed took place as the Nazi movement was gaining hold in Germany which caused physicists todesperatelybegin working to turn theory into application. It must be noted

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that both World War II and the subsequent Cold War catalyzed the research and engineering of fission technology far beyond where it would be had those wars never occurred. The next significant advancement, and perhaps the most important, transpired in 1939 between four different groups of physicists stationed in three different countries. The teams included Frederic Joliot-Curie, Walter Zinn, Leo Szilard, Fermi, and Otto Hahn.11 The experiments proved that Uranium was the element of choice in chain-reaction fission due to its propensity to release energetic (fast) neutrons when split. These neutrons could then be moderated and allowed to react with other Uranium atoms and the process could be continued indefinitely. It was already known that the fission process released energy, so the prospect of commercially harnessingthat energy was beginning to seem like a dream come true. It was not until 1939 that physicist Neils Bohr and John Weeler realized that natural Uranium ore was rife with the particularly unwanted isotope 238U, while it contained only minute quantities of 235U.
238

U is particularly non-fissile, and only absorbs fast neutrons to create more fissile elements.

The act of using fission neutrons to create more fissile isotopes from 238U is called breeding , and this concept is the entire basis of a particular type of modern reactor. Conversely,235U is highly fissile, and reacts favorably with slower thermal neutrons to split and produce further neutrons.12 This simple fact is the reason why most reactors today employ enriched Uranium or why such materials as weapons-grade Uranium exist. With natural Uranium ore having a
235

U population of roughly 0.3%, physicists have devised methods to chemically alter or enrich

the ore to 2-5% 235U. Enriched Uranium compensates for potential neutron absorbers in the core, while weapons grade Uranium is enriched finely to ensure as many fission reactions as possible will occur. Adding a further kink to the pipe dream of usable fission energy was Francis
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Perrin s findings on critical mass of Uranium and the importance on keeping a reactor critical during the operation if usable energy is to be acquired without continuously damaging equipment or failing to maintain the chain reaction.13The term criticality is perhaps the most important term in reactor physics as it determines whether the number of fission reactions is equal to the number of neutrons produced. When a reactor goes critical, the power level is stable and a very static amount of thermal energy is being produced. As it turns out, keeping the reaction critical is easier than one would think. This state is achieved by varying the amount of fuel, the shape of the fuel, the temperature, the density, and the use of neutron reflectors. However, Perrin s findings on criticality of fission reactions aided scientists in determining the amount of fuel necessary to start a reaction and in realizing the need for neutron absorbers besides moderators (what came to be coined control rods ) to stop the reaction if it went supercritical (the neutron economy is increasing faster than can be absorbed). In most commercial designs, this is a non-issue as automatic neutron-economy sensors drive the rods into the core before any damage is possible. The core is seen as the hub of all activity in a nuclear reactor as it is broadly defined as the vessel that contains the fuel elements, moderator, control rods, and other minute technologies that differ per reactor type. The final major advancement in nuclear engineering leading up to a reactor was initiated by Edwin McMillan and Glenn Seaborg in 1940. Due to the non-fissile nature of 238U when bombarded by thermal neutrons, it was postulated that under certain conditions these abundant atoms would absorb a neutron, emit an electron, and transform into a new element . Using a cyclotron

(which uses magnets to spin a particle in a circle at a high rate), the element was synthesized and confirmed to be fissile. Thus, both Seaborg and McMillan proved that the multitude of
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unfavorable atoms in natural uranium can actually be readily transformed to a new element and split just as easily as 235U.14This element (the first to be assembled solely by man) went on to be named Plutonium. While the implications of fission have been proven applicable to the technological progression of humankind, the physicists working on the technology at the time were very conscious of the alternative ends of their research. Perhaps most famously, after hearing about the success of fission by Otto Hahn in Germany, Szilard and Fermi devised their own experiment at Columbia University to observe the phenomenon themselves. He recounts the scene as follows:
"We turned the switch and saw the flashes. We watched them for a little while and then we switched everything off and went home. We understood the implications and consequences of this discovery, though. That night, there was very little doubt in my mind that the world was headed for grief."
15

The implications of nuclear fission for war-time use in weaponry are beyond the scope of this report. Nonetheless, World War II was perhaps the most prevalent force that drove the work on chain-reaction fission through initiatives such as the U.S. Manhattan Project and British Tube Alloys project.16 Finally, after condensing all of the Uranium fission research over the previous decades, an outstanding team including Szilard, Fermi, Walter Zinn, Seaborg, and Arthur Holly Compton (including many others) worked on constructing the first reactor (coined pile in those days). They used natural Uranium oxide fuel and high-quality graphite (pure Carbon) as a moderator, and cooled the reactor with naturally circulating air.17 The research for the reactor began at
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Columbia University, but due to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America s entry into the war it was moved to the interior of the country; namely, the University of Chicago. At the university, an unused squash court under the football field was used to house the first reactor dubbed the Chicago Pile No. 1. The reactor was primitive, yet very detailed for an initial run. Overall, the pile consisted of 45,000 graphite blocks with 19,000 holes drilled into them for placement of the Uranium fuel. Naturally, this reactor was solely designed to prove that criticality of fission could be sustained. Thus, no turbines or steam generators were present at the running of this reactor. All of the excess heat from the reaction was removed via the circulation tubes and emitted to the atmosphere. This apparatus also proved the effectiveness of control rods, as Enrico Fermi carefully used them to safely reach criticality and quench the chain reaction. The Chicago Pile meant many things to many people involved in nuclear physics at the time. Most markedly, it made apparent the possibility of using atomic energy for mankind s needs and sparked a slew of technological breakthroughs in reactor types and technologies to bring that energy to the common household.

Basic Nuclear Power Plant Design
To fully appreciate the advancements made in commercial nuclear power over the previous half-century, it is important to grasp the basic concepts of how atomic binding energy is transformed into a usable stream of electrons. The centerpiece of every nuclear design is the core and what is housed in the containment vessel. The containment vessel has developed into a concrete jacket that houses the fuel elements, control rods, and coolant whose job is to protect the outside world from radiation and contain any minor meltdown or coolant leak. The

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core (labeled reactor in Figure 1) is the area where fission takes place and fission products are accumulated. Most commercial designs use a type of housing or cladding for the fuel that will contain the fission products once they are created. Naturally, the gain in using a cladding is the production ofa tidy system of radioactive elements that can be removed at will. The fission reaction itself depends on the cross-section of a fuel which, as Fermi proved with his moderator, has an inverse relationship with neutron speed.18The cross section for fissile fuels increases with moderated neutrons and its quantitative value allows for optimal selection of fuels for reactors. Certain reactors have been designed to use fissile fuels other than 235U such as Thorium and 233U. Finally, the control rods are dense tubes of Cadmium or Boron compounds that heavily absorb neutrons, stifling the neutron economy in the core and bringing the reaction to a halt. In orderto obtain enough thermal energy from the reaction, some cores are relatively large due to power densities that vary heavily with the reactor type. Typically, a reactor has a higher power density (amount of energy output per unit of core space) if a single coolant cycle is used, very few neutron absorbers are present in the core, and enriched Uranium is used.A second concrete shield, the containment building, is constructed around the core for further protection against a more catastrophic accident. In the PWR shown in Figure 1, the containment building houses the entire primary circuit to contain any radioactive spills or ruptures relating to the cooling system. While all designs typically base themselves around different thermodynamic cycles, a typical design will lead the coolant out of the containment building and into a steam generator. Steam generation uses two fluids under different pressures. If the coolant from the core (primary side) is under very high pressure/temperature and is allowed to interact with the electricity-generating water (secondary side) which is at low

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Figure 1: Basic schematic for Westinghouse Pressurized water reactor displaying a total of three cooling loops. In the end, the tertiary cooling water is acquired from a natural or man-made body of water located somewhere near the plant.

pressure/temperature, the secondary side will easily convert to steam. The interaction between the primary and secondary side is depicted in the center of Figure 1 (red/green cycle interaction) and the device is simply known as a steam generator. This steam is led upwards, through a cycle, and through a turbo-generating device (depicted at the end of the green loop in Figure 1) to create free electricity. Both the primary and secondary cycles are repeated indefinitely. Even when the reaction has stopped the coolant is cycled due to the decay heat of radioactive fission products present in the core. Nuclear power reactors are unique in that they will continue to generate thermal energy over a year after initial shutdown; albeit not much. Therefore, special care must be given to the spent fuel elements when a reactor is decommissioned, and this remains one of the most prominent issues barring nuclear energy from further advancement.
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Antiquated Thermal Reactors
As previously mentioned, Enrico Fermi made apparent in 1934 that the slowing of neutrons increases their reactivity with the 235U nuclei. The use of moderators such as graphite that are known for their propensity to accept energy from the neutrons was a significant technological advancement that progressed fission to commercial viability. Practically all commercial reactors in Western nations use moderators in their core designs.19 Subsequently, a slew of reactor types using different moderators have been proposed and developed over the previous half-century of nuclear development. Some of these core designs, while essential to the progress of fission engineering, have been phased out over the decades due to concerns over safety, cost, or power yield. The following sections will focus on the most significant reactors in terms of relevance to human gain, and will separate them according to moderation and cooling techniques.
Natural Uranium Graphite-Moderated Reactors Early Reactors

This particular reactor design is monumental in that it was the first to be constructed and operated continuously (ex. Chicago Pile No. 1). These reactors employed the most easily accessible materials to fuel, moderate, and cool the core. The first reactors of this type used natural Uranium that did not require enrichment, saving both money and work required to operate the reactor. In fact, the very first reactors did not even contain a proper cooling system at all!20 The original cores released heat to tubes of air powered by natural convection. This set-up required great faith in the calculations undertaken by the physicists in charge of the design. Today, scorn is heaped on the administrators of the Chicago No. 1 for allowing a
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potentially explosive and poorly shielded reactor to go into operation in such a densely populated region of the country.Thankfully, these early reactors were a huge success and proved that criticality could be sustained and measureable amounts of heat could be generated. Many countries ran with the natural Uranium design engineering new ways to cool and fuel the cores. While these designs, including the Magnox, AGR, HTGR, and RBMK, are considered obsolete and will likely never be re-built, many are still in operation today, and their use for commercial energy production has taught us very valuable lessons related to safety and operation of reactors.
Magnox Reactors

The first thermal reactor to see wide use for commercial energy production was the Magnox design pioneered mainly in the U.K. andJapan. The Magnox name refers to the cladding alloy used to house the fuel inside the core and is made up of Magnesium, Aluminum, and minute amounts of other metals. It was a significant step up from the earlier reactors where the fuel was simply placed into a hole drilled into the graphite moderator. The fuel and cladding are arranged into a rod with fins (dubbed the herringbone pattern) as depicted in Figure 2. The key advantage in designing the cladding in this way is it intentionally swirls the cooling gas in the core which, in turn, increases the heat transfer between the fuel elements and the gas. Having been moderated by a solid graphite block in a pre-stressed concrete core, the engineering involved in moderating the early gas-cooled reactors including the Magnox was quite minimal. Typically, a simple graphite block was shaped to fit the core and drilled according to the type of fuel element used. Solid graphite is chosen for its large moderating

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ratio which takes into account the stopping power and absorption of neutrons as seen in eqn. 2 below:   

(eqn. 2)

In eqn.2, S denotes the slowing down power of the moderator (which is more technically involved), N represents the number of molecules per unit volume, and
ia

represents the cross section

of the atoms. The moderating ratio for graphite is 200, and this is the second-highest moderating ratio of all commerciallyapplied moderators. The Magnox cooling system is more robust than that of the earliest thermal reactors in that it employs pressurized Carbon dioxide instead of naturally circulating air. Carbon dioxide was chosen as the gas due to its low neutron absorption, its lower propensity to combust (relative to pure air), and its minimal corrosion properties at lower temperatures. When the Magnox stations were initially brought to the table for commercial production, engineers hailed the inherent
Figure 2: Magnox
Herringbone fuel element

safety of using Carbon dioxide as a coolant for two reasons. First, in the case of a major loss of coolant accident (LOCA), the

Source: See (Nero, March, 1979)

Magnox cladding would retain most of the radioactivity and fission products assuming the reactor was promptly shut down. Secondly, having the cooling of the core undertaken by gas allows natural circulation to continue to cool the core even if some of the coolant or pressure is
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lost.21 This fact, coupled with the fact that the core remains at a relatively low temperature naturally due to the limits for Magnesium cladding made the Magnox reactor particularly safe for commercial production. Over time, the drawbacks of Magnox reactors have proven to outweigh their benefits. The principle disadvantage is the chemical properties of the Magnesium alloy. The maximum safe-operating temperature of Magnox is around 360°C, greatly limiting the temperatures present in the core, and, hence, the thermal efficiency of the plant. To compensate for low power density and design a Magnox reactor that is suitable for commercial electricity generation, the reactors must be scaled up to compensate for the low efficiency making Magnox reactors space-consuming and costly.22Another major issue resulting from the use of Magnesium is the inability of plant operators to store spent fuel rods into spent-fuel pools containing water for an extended period of time. The Magnox cladding corrodes in water forming Magnesium Hydroxide, and exposes the fuel elements to the open.23Naturally, the deformation of the cladding and the forming of precipitates in the fuel-pool creates an unsightly and unorganized engineering nightmare. Millions of dollars are currently being pushed towards cleaning up some of the more degenerated and contaminated Magnox spentfuel pools in Britain at this time.24
Enriched-Uranium Graphite Moderated Reactors Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors

Along with the spent-fuel pool issue, the design flaws inherent in the Magnoxincluding the low power density of the reactors and lack of standardization in the herringbone pattern for the

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cladding have led to a relatively quick phase out of the Magnox design.25Although a fair amount were nevertheless constructed, it was not long before the Britons were eying on a new design that departed from the Magnox reactors that wouldcompete with the North American highefficiency of water reactors. While a number of specific reactor types were on the table at this time, a more advanced version of the basic Magnox schematic was ultimately chosen. These new reactors were given the name Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGR s), and they were the first commercialized reactors of Europe to employ enriched Uranium for use in the core.26 This resulted from the idea that Carbon Dioxide gas exiting the core should reach temperatures comparable to those found in traditional coal-fired plants so that similar generators could be used to create the steam. Enriching the Uranium increases the propensity for simultaneous fission reactions to occur, thereby increasing core heat. The AGR design increased the steamcycle efficiency monumentally due to both the higher steam temperatures and pressure. In fact, although this reactor-type is now considered obsolete, the AGR steam cycle efficiencies are roughly 40%, which is the highest efficiency found in any commercialized fission reactor.27It was previously mentioned that one of the limiting factors of Magnox reactors is their inability to tolerate high core temperatures. To circumvent this problem in AGR s the Uranium pellets are clad in thin stainless steel machined with ribbed edges as seen in Figure 3. The reason for the ribbing is comparable to the reason for the herringbone structure in that increased gaseous turbidity escalates the heat transfer. Due to the inherently high temperatures of the AGR core, the stainless steel cladding becomes a significant absorber of neutrons, therein giving rise to the need for thin claddings and enriched Uranium pellets. Thus, from a cost point of view, the need for the expensive process of enriching Uranium to a said percentage (roughly 2.3%) was

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an initial detraction in using the AGR to provide electricity commercially to Britain s public. However, the offset came in the average linear fuel rating or the amount of Kilowatts garnered from every meter of reactor space. This rating was over 4 times greater than that of the more primitive Magnox designs whichallowed engineers to construct much smaller buildings to house reactors that concurrently provided more power to the public.28Nevertheless, the dramatic increase in core temperatures compared to the Magnox reactor introduced a slew of engineering difficulties that ultimately plagued the AGR s from reaching the success of the American and Canadian reactors to be covered later. The most apparent technical difficulty arose in using graphite moderation with Carbon dioxide coolant at high temperatures and radiation fields. With the coolant passing right over the graphite face, the two have the propensity to chemically interact in the following way: 
 

Figure 3: The details of the AGR fuel element Source: See 20

(eqn. 3)

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While carbon monoxide is unnoticeably toxic and not an enviable coolant by any means, the real issue with eqn. 3 is the loss of integrity in the graphite moderator. Engineers have observed this corrosion leading to deposition of Carbon on the fuel elements which greatly inhibits the heat transfer to the coolant. If the reaction is allowed to run like this unchecked, avery real possibility of overheating the core exists. Increased cooling would only lead to further moderator degeneration and, thus, the operators must solely rely on the automatic tripping of the control rods to quench the fission process. It has been found that the addition of methane in small concentrations has led to the inhibition of eqn. 3. Nevertheless, the last AGR went critical almost two and a half decades ago and there are no plans to resume construction of this reactor type.29
High-Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors

Perhaps the most striking enriched-Uranium concept includes the Pebble Bed Reactor (PBR) which resides in a family dubbed the High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactors (HTGR s). It is particularly difficult to classify PBR s considering the fact that they have remained experimental-only for decades. However, the current and ever-increasing energy crisis is giving those within and outside the nuclear industry the chance to take a second look at these interesting reactor types. Although they are not a success story in the way of commercial energy production at this point in time, they do deserve a succinct description at how they were evolved from the previously described gas-cooled reactors. The PBR concept was devised in Germany to combat some of the technological issues plaguing the British gas-cooled reactors.30 The only similarity to the British reactors is the use

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of partially-enriched Uranium for fueling. Silicon-carbide coating is applied around the Uranium pellets to clad the fuel and prevent the release of fission products. Finally, thousands of these micro-fuel particles are suspended in a near-perfectly spherical ball of graphite (roughly the size of a tennis ball), which acts as the moderator. These balls, or pebbles , are combined to a number reaching roughly 360,000 and allowed to simply collect on the bottom of a pre-stressed concrete vessel. While the set-up of the core may seem arbitrary, or downright haphazard, the benefits that arise from this arrangement are enormous. A surprising gain from the PBR design is the lack of a need for control rods to quench or stabilize the fission reaction. A phenomenon known as Doppler broadening occurs when the temperature of the core increases to a critical level that is relative to the enrichment of the Uranium fuel. In Doppler broadening, the 238U atoms increase in vibrational energy, subsequently absorb more neutrons, andquench the reaction. The broadeningcreates an automatic safety net causing not only the reactor core to be much less technologically involved to manufacture, but also self-regulating in the event of a catastrophic LOCA.31Most PBR s do not even employ coolant pipes to remove heat from the pebbles, as cooling achieved by Carbon dioxide in previous gas-cooled reactors is undertaken by Helium in free convection in PBR s. The use of this noble gas was a huge technological achievement for the reason that it will not readily absorb neutrons or impurities, and is virtually non-corrosive. If engineered correctly to avoid excessive fission product leakage, the very hot helium gas exiting the core can be used to directly turn the turbine without the need for an intermediate heat exchanger.

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Although the safety and cooling elements in the PBR design are inherently simple, scientists and enthusiasts have been critical of a few key aspects that may have led them to be shelved in the commercial arena. First, while not proven to be significant cause for concern, it is possible for rogue Oxygen to enter the system and react with the hot graphite pebbles. If the graphite were to combust even slightly in the core, potentially hazardous radioactive dust could be swept out of the core and into the resulting coolant flow. Also, the act of storing the fuel in large pebbles makes the PBR the culprit of generating the largest gross amount of radioactive waste compared with any other reactor type.32It is of worth to note that one of the largest student-planned projects at MIT s Nuclear Science and Engineering department is the designing of a small, affordable, and inherently safe pebble bed reactor to be used in countries where large-scale Western reactors are infeasible. The idea is that the usage of free-flowing Helium as a coolant. Therefore, it is hoped that the lack of intricate thermodynamic cycles and cladding inherent in this PBR will make the reactor concept friendlier to countries of developing status.33 Likewise, the low-impact nature of smaller and easier to construct PBR s refrains from placing an overbearing strain on potentially weak or outdated electrical grids. The widespread acceptance of such a project could easily lead to an international nuclear resurgence so desperately needed. At the same time, the unorthodox design of the PBR that breaks away from the same tired old cores and cycles of past reactors could excite scientificcommunities and future scientists to take part in its implementation.
High Power Channel-type Reactor

The final thermal reactor-type to have fallen by the wayside in recent decades has achieved markedly more publicity than any other reactor type listed in this report, and that
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reactor type is the Soviet Boiling-Water, Graphite-Moderated Direct-Cycle (with Russian acronymRBMK) reactor. The RBMK was developed in the Soviet Union in the late 1950 s to compete with the rapid commercially-viable reactor progress of Western nations. The RBMK was orders of magnitude more technologically involved than other thermal reactors at the time. The design introduced a water/steam-mixture cooling system, a graphite block set-up for moderation, and the use of groups of differently engineered control rods to shape the power level in multiple ways.34As with thermal reactors that preceded it, the RBMK used enriched Uranium fuel to a 235U proportion of roughly 2%. The Soviets opted to use a Zirconium alloy to clad the fuel for the reason that its melting temperature is roughly that of Uranium Oxide, eliminating the need for core temperature limitations set specific to the cladding. The use of boiling ordinary water in the RBMK was a significantmilestone due to our firm understanding on how to convert liquid water to steam and turn turbines with it. Similarly, water acts as a decent moderator on its own, thereby improving the efficiency of the reaction. The moderating ratio of water is roughly 58, and its lower value compared to graphite is due to its tendency to absorb a neutron creating what is known as heavy water (a water molecule with an extra neutron). Nonetheless, the stopping power (the numerator of eqn. 2) of water is rather high, making it an excellent and cheap source of moderation. Coolant water is held at its saturation point at high pressure due to the fact that when depressurized in the steam separator, the high energy steam produced is able to directly generate electricity. The relatively large amount of control rods present in RBMK s are used for deeper and more finelytuned automatic regulation of thermal energy generation. Overall, the RBMK is designed to make use of 211 solid absorber rods of which 139 are for typical power control. The remaining
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rods are used for emergency protection and a special set of 24 short-absorber rods maintain axial power management. These special absorber rods operate from below the core, and the advantage of this is increased safety in micro-managing the power output in the core. 35One of the major features that Soviet engineers attempted to focus on when designing the RBMK was accident prevention and mitigation. To achieve this, an Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS), the first of its kind, was added to pump large amounts of cold water to the core in the wake of a LOCA. The ECCS was engineered to actuate and begin pumping with the power of residual rotational momentum of the turbine until the diesel generators warmed-up to supply the backup power. It was during experimental testing of the ECCS system that the Chernobyl disaster occurred.36 While the ECCS may have been designed to alleviate small coolant pipe ruptures or turbine trips (a sudden cease of operation due to extreme conditions), a special attribute stemming from the RBMK design known as a positive void coefficient has caused the reactor to fall out of favor for commercial use. A positive void coefficient describesan increase in power (due to the moderation properties of water) and temperature resulting from a reduction in coolant density. As previously mentioned with the PBR reactor, an increase in temperature will decrease the neutron population due to Doppler broadening. Consequently, the positive void coefficient causes a battle between two different phenomena to produce a net effect depending on the power level. Unfortunately, at power levels below 20%, increasing the power leads to further boiling of the coolant which further increases the power, leading to an unstable situation. The Chernobyl reactor No. 4 was at a low power level when an unexpected power surge led the operators to send the core into emergency shutdown. However, an
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uncontrollable thermal energy-output spiked before proper shutdown could be undertaken leading the core vessel to blow and spew tons of fission products out of the containment building. Due to the complex, rapidly responding control systems needed to cope with the positive void coefficients in RBMK s, the reactor design has been abandoned and international pressure is being exerted on former U.S.S.R. nations to close the remaining reactors of this type in operation.37

Modern Thermal Reactors
A large number of commercially viable thermal reactors have been phased out over the years due to large capital costs and safety. Nonetheless, nearly all reactors being constructed today continue to employ moderation in some form to slow down the neutron population in the core. Specifically, liquid moderators have seen the most commercial success. The most effective of thesehave been ordinary water or its heavy counterpart. Both simple and heavy water have a net combination of positive and negative attributes in reactor applications.
Natural Uranium Heavy Water-Moderated Reactors

As mentioned many times over, the importance of a moderator lies in its stopping power and lack of propensity to absorb neutrons. Although light water has been established to perform particularly well in stopping neutrons, scientists including Harold Urey discovered that it has a natural tendency to absorb an extra neutron forming a compound dubbed Deuterium Oxide, or heavy water .38Even more surprisingly, heavy water is naturally prevalent in both sea and fresh water to the degree of 1 molecule D2O per 3200 molecules of H2O.39 Upon isolation of this molecule in tangible amounts, it was discovered that the properties of heavy watervary
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closely mimic that of ordinary water. While many methods exist to separate heavy water, simple distillation techniques are typically used for their cost effectiveness and ability to operate on relatively large quantities of water.Due to its overloading of neutrons, the heavy water molecule is more apt to reject neutrons than water yet its stopping power remains the same. In regards to eqn. 2, the moderation ratio for heavy water is roughly 21,000; hundreds of times that of other popular moderators. The ramifications of thesefactors was the realization that a nuclear reactor could be constructed using D2O as a moderator (and possibly the coolant as well) hence reducing or removing the need to enrich mined Uranium to compensate for neutron absorption by light water. The first to put the heavy water-reactor idea into practice, and ultimately build an industry around it, were the Canadians with their Canadian Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) reactors. Today, this reactor technology is exported to countries all over the world attempting to develop a sound commercialatomic-energy infrastructure and is still heavily used in Canada. 40
CANDU Reactors

The most striking technological difference of CANDU reactors is their use of horizontallyoriented fuel elements and coolant tubes. CANDU cores are similar to those of different reactor types in their use of vertical control rods for power control and large containment vessels that house the moderator and fuel. The use of horizontal fuel rods stemmed from economic factors rather than a need forengineeredadvancement. Following World War II, Canada lacked the heavy industry to manufacture large steel vessels such as those prevalent in American-made water reactors. Similarly, the government was unwilling to invest in the capital cost of Uranium-enrichment.41Thus, the horizontal set-up coupled with the heavy water
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moderation system enabled them to use less material and smaller cladding. The CANDU design, like the RBMK, uses a Zirconium alloy (coined Zircaloy) for its superior transparency to neutrons. Perhaps the most important technological advantage of using horizontal fuel elements is the ability to circulate the coolant using decreased pressure and temperature. This characteristic is a marked advantage over American reactors due to the smaller amount of steam generator issues that surface over the CANDU reactor lifetime.42These generator issues are something that has plagued American Pressurized Water Reactors due to the increase in temperature on the primary side. It is thought that the greater the amount of steam present on the secondary side (electricity-generating cycle), the higher the propensity there is for corrosion. The higher temperatures used in more advanced reactor types have caused the steel present in the generator to weaken, necessitating costly repair and shutdown. Another significant positive attribute of CANDU reactor is that they can run off spent Uranium fuel from American reactors and Plutonium fuel from decommissioned warheads. With the advent of recent disarmament treaties between the U.S. and Russia, a great excess of weapons-grade Plutonium is available as fuel for CANDU cores. Like some light water reactors, theexcellent moderation properties of CANDU reactors make themcompatible with Thorium fuel (if Uranium is unavailable. The Thorium isotope 232Th will absorb thermal neutrons to produce the Uranium isotope 233U which has fissile properties comparable to 235U.43Lastly, the use of heavy water as both a moderator and coolant allows the core to act as a giant heat sink, greatly reducing the risk of fuel meltdown. All of these properties add up to make CANDU reactors one of the most versatile and safest reactors to ever be conceived. Also, the allowance of naturalUranium ore
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as fuelkeeps recurring costs low. Many countries enrolled in the Commonwealth of Nations and an increasing number of Eastern-Asian countries have seized opportunities to purchase CANDU reactors and connect them to their respective grids. The largest consumers of CANDU reactors outside of Canada are South Korea, India, and Romania.44 Nevertheless, the frustrating kinks or faults that surface in long-term use of nuclear reactors are still present in CANDU designs. First and foremost, the use of Zircaloy as a neutron-transparent cladding has come at a financial cost due to the hydriding (reducing the ore to pure Zirconium at high temperatures) of the metal in many cases. This act of hydriding greatly increases the risk of corrosion and exposing of fuel elements. While periodic testing of the fuel elements typically resolve any corrosion issues before they have the potential to disintegrate, the cost of irregularly replacing and refueling damaged elements can be expensive. Secondly, massive amounts of expensive heavy water are an enormous capital investment in constructing a CANDU reactor. Similarly, when using natural Uranium the power densities of CANDU reactors are roughly 10 times lower than that of American pressurized water reactors. This lower power density necessitates further capitalinvestment to construct larger reactors. Highcapital cost remains the only impedance in constructing more CANDU reactors, as their sophisticated engineering allows for the versatility and ease of fueling necessary to keep communities powered.45
Enriched Uranium Light Water-Moderated Reactors

Residents of the United States or Western Europe (excluding the U.K.) are most familiar with nuclear reactors moderated and cooled by ordinary light water. Many countries have chosen reactor designs that employ light water due to their relatively simple, familiar layouts
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along with the low cost of cooling and moderating the core. Two specific light water designs conceived in the United States have seen huge commercial success worldwide: the Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) and the Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR).46
Boiling Water Reactors

The Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) is the simplest U.S. design, and was conceived in the mid 1950 s through a joint cooperation between Idaho National Laboratory and General Electric.47Unlike the RBMK where the water is allowed to just reach a boiling point in the core, the BWR completelyboils the coolant in the core. The BWR thermodynamic cycle eliminates the complication of other reactors by allowing the coolant steam to directly turn the turbine and condense back into liquid coolant. In making use of core steam this way, only one direct cycle is needed and high efficiency can be achieved. In fact, the BWR (depicted in Figure 4) is so inherently simple on paper that when faced with the prospect of possibly incorporating them into their infrastructure in the early 1960 s, the U.K. labeled the design as boring .48

Figure 4: A BWR schematic

Source: See20 Page | 29

Another technological advantage of the BWR is its ability to operate at relatively lower pressures (especially compared to the PWR) so that the coolant boils in the core at a temperature around 285°C. Similar to the RBMK, the BWR makes use of control rods inserted from below, however, unlike the RBMK, all of the rods are of a single type and all are inserted from below the core. Although greatly simplifying the design, having all the control rods operate from below the corerequires active systems to drive the rods upward. This feature was initially a cause for concern when hypothesizing the event of a power outage to a commercial BWR plant. Most other reactors use electromagnets to hold the rods in place above the core and, in the case of a total power outage, immediately release the rods allowing gravity to naturally drive them down and quench the reaction. This concern was overcome by engineering a dedicated high-pressure hydraulic accumulator to each control rod to drive the rods upward if the accumulator is tripped. This accumulator is a device which allows a hydraulic non-compressible fluid to be stored under pressure by a self-actuating external mechanical source. Once the pressure source is de-activated as a trip, the hydraulic fluid forces the rods upward as it spreads out, and they are locked in place. Perhaps most ingeniously, the BWR was designed to operate on a passive safety system that changes the moderation properties between water and steam. In the event of a LOCA, the amount of redundant coolant routes supplying water to the core will diminish, naturally depriving the core of the usual amount of coolant. The subsequent excess heat in the core will create a greater steam economy which decreases the amount of moderation available in the core, effectively slowing the reaction. At that point, operators and automatic assessment

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systems can take over to fully stop the reaction and bring the situation under control. inherent safety and simplicity of the BWR have brought it to international acclaim.

49

The

Nonetheless, the BWR suffers from a number of disadvantages. As with many other designs, the BWR power density remains relatively low. Perhaps the most widely criticized, issue plaguing the BWR design is its tendency to boil and carry away radionuclides (radioactive atoms). A reactor with recurring radioactivity in the coolant is regarded as particularly troublesome due to the special measures needed to ensure proper shielding. Even worse, no feasible material can be chosen for steam generation that avoids significant breakdown when exposed to radiation. This increase in radioactivity coupled with lower power density necessitates the need for huge reactor cores with gargantuan amounts of shielding in place.50 A typical BWR core requires roughly 4 meters of reinforced concrete and steeland about and extra meter or so involved in the wall of the containment building. This specialized building contains the core, refueling equipment, coolant pipes, and monitoring equipment, and is not typically populated by personnel during operation. Also, special measures have to be put into place to protect the power generation equipment (and maintenance crews) against radioactivity. Fortunately, the typical radioactive substances present in the steam are Krypton and Xenon which can be removed through an inert-gas removal system, and a radioactive isotope of Nitrogen. Even with these systems, operators of a BWR will receive greater doses of radiation over their work-lives than those of a PWR or CANDU, and that fact remains a significant stumbling block in the acceptance of the BWR.51

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Pressurized Water Reactors

The Pressurized Water Reactor has seen the most prominent use in the United States and among other nations. Interestingly, the PWR was conceived primarily for application in nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. The idea was to employ a reactor that usedlight water, no fancy thermodynamic cycles, and passive cooling techniques that made operation a breeze at full power. The main proponent of the PWR at the time of conception was Admiral Hyman Rickover of the U.S. Navy.52 In a PWR, the main technological difference separating it from that of a BWR is the massive amounts of added pressure to the coolant. Water entering a PWR core is typically held at around 16 MPa, which is noticeably higher than any other commercialized reactor. This added pressure causes the coolant to wield a boiling point around 375°C. In the PWR, a device known as a pressurizer is employed at the outlet of the core to maintain 16MPa throughout the coolant cycle. While revolutionary at the time, the pressurizer is a simple design consisting of a heating element and a few release valves to maintain a set steam-water mixture depending on the desired pressure. This pressurizer was the focal point of the hardware failures leading up to the partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island TMI-2 reactor in 1979.53 Another advance pertaining to the coolant system is the use of a steam generator that requires two light-water sources in its operation. The high-pressure hot coolant is fed through a pool of low pressure water (with no physical contact between the two) enabling the latter source to easily boil and produce steam. This subsequent steam is then fed through the turbine to generate electricity. Owing to the fact that PWR s suffer from the leakage of minute fission products into the coolant stream in a similar fashion to BWR s, generating steam from a second
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source of water avoids the issue of radionuclide degeneration of turbine equipment.54 Unlike the BWR, the lack of boiling in the core has enabled use of drop-in control rods that use the electromagnetic grip system previously mentioned. The two properties of a PWR that resulted in such wide use is its inherent ability to passively monitor power increases when operating near full power.55 Light water, unlike heavy water, is not only beneficial in stopping neutrons but also tends to absorb them to create heavy water. Thus, in the case of a LOCA where boiling may occur, the loss of moderation will cause the steam and 238U to absorb the faster neutrons, decreasing the power level almost immediately. The fast-neutron flux (Number of fast neutrons per unit cross section) change takes place faster than the reaction time of automatic control-rod mechanisms and operators, and places the core in a more manageable state. If a reactor decreases in power in the wake of decreased moderation, it is said to wield a negative void coefficient of reactivity which is something highly sought-after in a design (Opposed to the positive-void RMBK which is considered unstable). The final notable safety feature engineered into the PWR is the automatic regulation of Boron-compounds in the coolant stream. Specifically, Boric acid is typically used due to its supreme ability to absorb neutrons and lack of corrosive or harmful properties. The acid is typically injected into the coolant when small coolant pipe ruptures, turbine trips, or pump failures occur. This neutron-poison injection, as it has been coined, occurs through the use of purely liquid coolant throughout the entire cycle. Thus, the poison and the negative void coefficient are considered a strong selling point for the continuing use of the PWR.56

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Many consider the use of high pressures in the PWR to be just as much of a hazard as an advantage.57 Although PWR s typically make use of redundancy in their coolant systems (typically 4 separate cooling and steam generating streams), the high pressures, residual radioactivity, and neutron flux limit the lifetime of the plant considerably if the contractors are unwilling to re-vamp the steel piping throughout the plant. Similarly, the unexpected, spectacular, large-area pipe ruptures remain a significant concern for ailing PWR plants due to the massive pressures present. Like the BWR, the use of light water requires expensive enrichment of Uranium to fuel the core, so recurring cost remains high in this regard. Lastly, and perhaps the most negativecriticism of the PWR is their inability to undergo refueling while in operation. If a significant refueling is necessary, which is typical to avoid the need of repetitive shut-downs, the reactor will typically go offline for 15 days. The impact of these shutdowns can be lessened by operating more than one PWR on site.58 Even through these detriments, the lack of thermodynamic complexity, mixed with the low recurring costs and inherent safety, has made the PWR the most widely used nuclear reactor in the world.59

Fast-Neutron Fuel-Breeding Reactors
Although a fast-neutron (un-moderated) type reactor was the first to generate a sizable amount of electricity in 1951, the intricate technology and material requirements has led these reactors to continually be deemed a futuristic or advanced design.60 Specifically, fast-breeder reactors (FBR s) operate on the principle of using a fast-array of neutrons to breed more fuel than they consume. Over time, scientists have experimentally derived a perfect fuel element for FBR s consisting of 20% Plutonium Dioxide and 80% natural Uranium Dioxide. The

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Plutonium Dioxide is chiefly gathered from the outputs of other reactor types or dismantled nuclear weaponry. Because of the finite amount of Uranium Oxide present on Earth, the FBR is beginning to take shape as the future for nuclear fission.61
Liquid Metal-Cooled Fast Breeder Reactors

The most prominently experimented and applied FBR is the Liquid Sodium-Cooled FBR. The positive and negative technological attributes of this reactor tend to be evenly split. On the plus side, core safety is one of the inherent features built into the molten metal FBR s. In popular pool-type designs, the entire core is immersed in liquid Sodium (or a Sodium-Potassium alloy) which is an excellent heat conductor and low neutron absorber. When the fission reaction is at full power, the fast neutrons will bond with the 238U atoms forming 239Pu, which is fissile. All the while, the slower neutrons, which are much smaller in terms of population density, will react with both the 239Pu atoms and minute amounts of 235U atoms. Naturally, greater amounts of 239Pu will pile up giving meaning to the term Breeder reactor . Due to the practically non-existent neutron absorption properties of the metal coolant, the neutron economy inside the core is very high compared to those of other commercially viable reactors. This high neutron flux gives the FBR the advantage of having the highest power density of any commercial reactor (5 times that in a PWR, 1000 times that of a Magnox). To limit radionuclide transportation, a heat exchanger is located essentially in the core which transfers fission heat to a second molten Sodium system. Then, a third heat exchanger is present outside the core which transmits heat from the Sodium system to a light-water steam generator. This heat exchange design is also the centerpiece of fears relating to large-scale construction of FBR s. Special care must be given to the engineering of the molten Sodium or Potassium piping to
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ensure no contact with air or, first and foremost, water ever occurs. Both Sodium and Potassium are alkali metals that, in their pure state, will spontaneously burn in Oxygen and violently explode when mixed with ordinary light water. Unfortunately, few other metals exhibit the necessary properties such as low melting point, high boiling point (relative to air temperature), and low toxicity to be used as a FBR coolant so sealing the coolant off from both common air and water is a major concern. Lastly, large-scale international use of FBR s is a major proliferation concern due to their production of weapons-grade Plutonium. The full cycles of certain designs (thankfully, the easier ones to construct) inhibit the extraction of this Plutonium, but some feel that international proliferation committees in their current state are inadequate to advocate mass construction of FBR s.62

The Future of Commercialized Nuclear Fission
A multitude of nuclear-based options are available to countries seeking to lessen their carbon footprint and fossil-fuel reliance, from basic thermal reactors to breeder reactors. Even so, many reactor types have been proposed, and even used commercially, that have not been mentioned in this report. While the minor accident at Three Mile Island s PWR in 1979 and the violent explosion at Chernobyl s RBMK in 1986 markedly dampened international interest in nuclear energy in the decade that followed, the current energy crunch is brining substantial amounts of renewed interest to the field. Subsequently, there are a number of technical issues (both scientific and economic) that must be addressed for nuclear energy to win over the public and begin forging a carbon-free path to sustained living.

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The advancement of nuclear energy, especially in countries of rogue regimes, presents a proliferation concern. In the operation and reprocessing involved in the life of a fuel element, many fear the respective production and extraction of plutonium will give countries incentive to develop the means to form atomic weaponry with the substance. Currently there are two routes (one being technical, the other political) that proliferation committees such as the International Atomic Energy Alliance (IAEA) are taking to deaden the concern of plutonium weaponry being developed in rogue states. First, the technology to reprocess the spent fuel is where the focal point of the concern lies, as it remains the primary point in the fuel process at which Plutonium can be isolatedin pure form. A team headed by Glenn Seaborg invented the initial Plutonium-Uranium Extraction (PUREX) process as part of the Manhattan Project in 1947.63 Sparing the details, this process is a liquid-liquid extraction process that involves two immiscible substances to interact with the spent-fuel elements and separate them. While technologically uninvolved, this process is heavily criticized due to its generation of large amounts of irradiated liquid waste, and its ability to so easily isolate 239Pu. To quell this proliferation issue, committees such as the IAEA have employed measures to ensure that countries are supplied with more modern means to reprocess, such as the UREX process.64 The Uranium Extraction (UREX) process is the next generation of reprocessing based off the PUREX design that significantly reduces the size of the waste set for entombment in high-level sites such as Yucca Mountain. More importantly, the UREX technique involves the addition of acetohydroxamic acid which acts as a reducing agent to both Neptunium and Plutonium. The acid donates an electron to these elements and greatly reduces their

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extractability. Therefore, if a global up-rise in nuclear-based energy is to occur, it is enviable for all countries including those in the West to advocate and use UREX processing. The other means of proliferation currently on the table is the simple act of downplaying the need for nuclear weaponry. Researchers and those tied to the IAEA insist that a widespread change of Western attitudes towards the use and creation of nuclear weaponry will cause a ripple effect that stifles the requirement developing nations feel to develop these weapons. If countries such as the U.S. dismantle their nuclear warheads and insist on other technologies for rapid war-time response, developing nations will not be so apt to use nuclear reactors as a ploy to fuel their pipe-dreams of constructing atomic bombs. The technological advancement of reprocessing spent fuel mixed with a widespread change of political attitude are key to allowing nuclear energy to power humanity through the 21st century in a responsible way.65 Observing modern, advanced nuclear reactors in practice will not occur unless Western governments and investors become keen on subsidizing and licensing these costly plants. Costs of nuclear reactors today are said to range $2,000 to $4,000 per kilowattof energy out. This steep cost is relative to a more investor-friendly flat-price of $300 million for a coal-fired plant which is practically guaranteed to operate without a hitch. Hence, pressure exists on engineers to develop building layouts for new reactors that curtail unnecessary costs without interfering with a safety margin.66 Likewise, men and women in high-powered government positions need to carefully weigh the capital costs of these new plants vs. the long-term costs the whole planet will pay if Carbon emissions remain at their current levels.

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Overall, many advanced reactors such as the VVER-PWR (Russian-Advanced PWR), ESBWR (Economic Simplified BWR), and fast reactors (all of which employ further safety properties and efficiencies than those mentioned earlier) that have implemented the hard lessons-learned over the previous half-century are lined up ready to supply the ever-increasing energy needs of the human population. Recently, reactor designers have been pushed to install passive safety systems into their reactors to enable stable accident control without the need of human intervention.One such example, the ESBWR, makes use of gravity to allow condensed water to flow back to a pool in the reactor vessel. Steam is led out of the top of the vessel through natural convection. Thus, no circulation pumps or associated piping are required for the primary circuit with the ESBWR67. Considering the accidents at both Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were entirely advanced through human action, passivity in reactor safety will be a major factor in the resurgence of such technology.However, further technological advancement is required in key fields that stem off the use of nuclear energy as a fuel source, and countries and their governments must be willing to take the financial hit now to implement more reactors before their descendants pay a much deeper price decades, or even centuries, down the road.

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R.C. Dahlberg, R. T. (1974, January). Description, HTGR Fuel and Fuel Cycle Summary. General Atomic Company Reports. Rhodes, R. (1995). The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Simon & Schuster. Rife, P. (1999). Lise Meitner and the Dawn of the Nuclear Age. Cambridge, MA: Birkhauser Boston. rosenergoatom. (2010). Generation. Retrieved January 6, 2011, from About the Plant: http://snpp.rosenergoatom.ru/eng/about/production/ Spinrad, B. I. (November, 1979). Alternative Breeder Reactor Technologies. Annual Review of Energy, 147-179. Stacey, W. M. (2010). Fusion: An Introduction to the Physics and Technology of Magnetic Confinement Fusion. Atlanta, GA: Wiley-VCH. Szilard, L. (1945, December 22). We Turned The Switch. Nation. Taylor, S. (2007). Privatisation and financial collapse in the nuclear industry: the origins and causes of the British energy crisis of 2002. Psycology Press. Technologies, T. S. (1990). Experimental High-Temperature Reactor, 21 Years of Successful Operation for A Future Energy Technology. Association of German Engineers, pp. 9-23. The Nuclear Tourist. (2006, February 16). Boiling Water Reactor (BWR). Retrieved January 6, 2011, from The Virtual Nuclear Tourist ! Nuclear Power Plants Around the World: http://www.nucleartourist.com/type/bwr.htm Thomas Telford. (1987). Chernobyl: A Technical Appraisal. British Nuclear Energy Society. Tong, L. (1988). Principles of Design Improvement for Light Water Reactors. Hemisphere. U.S. Department of Energy. (n.d.). The Manhattan Project: An Interactive History. Retrieved January 3, 2011, from Office of History and Heritage Resources: http://www.cfo.doe.gov/me70/manhattan/cp-1_critical.htm U.S. Nuclear Reglatory Commission. (1978). Reactor Safety Study. Taiwan: U.S. Reglatory Commission. U.S. Reglatory Commission. (2009, February). Annual Report on Occupational Radiation Exposure, NUREG-0713. Retrieved December 20, 2010, from U.S. Reglatory Commission: http://www.reirs.com/annual.htm Unofficial ITER Fan Club. (2010). Videos. Retrieved December 3, 2010, from Unofficial ITER Fan Club: http://www.iterfan.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=7&Itemid=61 Waller, P. I. (1951). Nobel Prize in Physics 1951: Award Ceremony Speech. The Nobel Foundation.

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Supplemental Bibliography
Edward Teller, J. S. (2002). Memoirs: A Twentieth-Century Journey in Science and Politics. Basic Books. Gwyneth Cravens, R. R. (2007). Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy. Knopf. Haywood, R. (1975). Analysis of Engineering Cycles. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon. Hamilton, J. J. (n.d.). Nuclear Reactor Analysis. John Wiley and Sons. Inglis, D. R. (1973). Nuclear Energy: Its Physics and its Social Challenges. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison Wesley Publishing Company. Winterton, R. (1981). The Thermal Design of Nuclear Reactors. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon.

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Endnotes
1

Preus, A. (2001). Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy: Before Plato. New York: SUNY Press. Rhodes, R. (1995). The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Simon & Schuster. Professor K.B. Hasselberg, P. o. (December 10, 1908). Award Ceremony Speech: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1908. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1908. Rhodes, R. (1995). The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Simon & Schuster. Chadwick, J. (1932). Possible Existance of a Neutron. Nature, 312. Rife, P. (1999). Lise Meitner and the Dawn of the Nuclear Age. Cambridge, MA: Birkhauser Boston. Einstein, A. (1916). Relativity: The Special and General Theory. New York: H. Holt and Company.

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Waller, P. I. (1951). Nobel Prize in Physics 1951: Award Ceremony Speech. The Nobel Foundation. Cronin, J. W. (2004). Fermi Remembered. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press. Szilard, L. (1945, December 22). We Turned The Switch. Nation.

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Jr., R. G. (1989). Historical Perspectives: Dawn of the Nuclear Age, Reminiscecences of Pioneers in Nuclear Fission. Remarks from a Symposium of the 1982 Winter Meeting of the American Nuclear Society. La Grange Park, IL: American Nuclear Society. Kessler, G. (1983). Nuclear Fission Reactors: Potential Role and Risks of Converters and Breeders. New York: Springer-Verlag.

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Rife, P. (1999). Lise Meitner and the Dawn of the Nuclear Age. Cambridge, MA: Birkhauser Boston. Carlson, J. W. (1989). Fifty Years with Nuclear Fission: Articles by Emilio Segre, Edoardo Amaldi, Pavle Savic, Siegfried Flugge, Bertrand Goldschmidt, Rudolf Peirls, John A. Wheeler, Leslie G. Cook, and Glenn T. Seaborg. La Grange Park, IL: American Nuclear Society.

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Rhodes, R. (1995). The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Simon & Schuster. Bernstien, B. J. (1976, June). The Uneasy Alliance: Roosevelt, Churchill, and the Atomic Bomb, 1940 1945. The Western Political Quarterly, pp. 202-230. Marcus, G. H. (2010). Nuclear Firsts: Milestones on the Road to Nuclear Power Development [Hardcover]. American Nuclear Society.

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Hamilton, J. J. (n.d.). Nuclear Reactor Analysis. John Wiley and Sons.

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Knief, R. A. (1992). Nuclear engineering: theory and technology of commercial nuclear power. New York: Hemisphere Pub. Corp.

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U.S. Department of Energy. (n.d.). The Manhattan Project: An Interactive History. Retrieved January 3, 2011, from Office of History and Heritage Resources: http://www.cfo.doe.gov/me70/manhattan/cp-1_critical.htm

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K.J. Dent, e. a. (1982, September 20). Status of Gas Cooled Reactors in the UK. British Nuclear Energy Society, pp. 247-258.

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Employee Communications Springfields Fuels Limited . (n.d.). The Magnox Story. Retrieved January 4, 2011, from Springfield Fuels Limited: http://www.nuclearsites.co.uk/resources/upload/Magnox%20Brochure2.pdf

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P.M. Bradford, B. C. (1976). Ion beam analysis of corrosion films on a high magnesium alloy (Magnox Al 80). Corrosion Science, 747-766. Nuclear Engineering International. (2005, November 10). Crucial UK Cleanup Job Commences. Retrieved January 5, 2011, from Nuclear Engineering International: http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?sectionCode=132&storyCode=2032396

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G.F. Hewitt, J. G. (2000). Introduction to Nuclear Power (Series in Chemical and Mechanical Engineering)G. Taylor & Francis. Marcus, G. H. (2010). Nuclear Firsts: Milestones on the Road to Nuclear Power Development [Hardcover]. American Nuclear Society.

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Marsden, B. J. (n.d.). Reactor Core Design Principles: AGR and HTR. Retrieved January 4, 2011, from School of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Civil Engineering: University of Manchester: http://web.up.ac.za/sitefiles/file/44/2063/Nuclear_Graphite_Course/B%20%20Graphite%20Core%20Design%20AGR%20and%20Others.pdf

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Duderstadt, J. (1979). Nuclear Power. New York: Marcel Dekker. G.F. Hewitt, J. G. (2000). Introduction to Nuclear Power (Series in Chemical and Mechanical Engineering)G. Taylor & Francis. Technologies, T. S. (1990). Experimental High-Temperature Reactor, 21 Years of Successful Operation for A Future Energy Technology. Association of German Engineers, pp. 9-23. R.C. Dahlberg, R. T. (1974, January). Description, HTGR Fuel and Fuel Cycle Summary. General Atomic Company Reports.

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Nero, A. V. (March, 1979). A Guidebook to Nuclear Reactors. University of California. Kadak, A. C. (2007, March 11). MIT PEBBLE BED REACTOR PROJECT. Retrieved January 9, 2011, from Nuclear Science and Engineering Department, MIT: http://web.mit.edu/pebblebed/papers1_files/MIT_PBR.pdf rosenergoatom. (2010). Generation. Retrieved January 6, 2011, from About the Plant: http://snpp.rosenergoatom.ru/eng/about/production/

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NNC. (March, 1976). The Russioan Graphite Moderated Channel Tube Reactor. National Nuclear Corporation.

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Marcus, G. H. (2010). Nuclear Firsts: Milestones on the Road to Nuclear Power Development [Hardcover]. American Nuclear Society.

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James J. Duderstadt, L. J. (1976). Nuclear Reactor Analysis. New York: Wiley.

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Evans-Prichard. (2010, August 29). Obama Could Kill Fossil-Fuels Overnight with a Nuclear Dash for Thorium. The Telegraph. G.F. Hewitt, J. G. (2000). Introduction to Nuclear Power (Series in Chemical and Mechanical Engineering)G. Taylor & Francis. G.F. Hewitt, J. G. (2000). Introduction to Nuclear Power (Series in Chemical and Mechanical Engineering)G. Taylor & Francis. Ball, J. M. (1984). An Atlas of Nuclear Energy: A Non-technical World Portrait of Commercial Nuclear Energy. Atlanta, GA: Georgia State University. The Nuclear Tourist. (2006, February 16). Boiling Water Reactor (BWR). Retrieved January 6, 2011, from The Virtual Nuclear Tourist ! Nuclear Power Plants Around the World: http://www.nucleartourist.com/type/bwr.htm

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Taylor, S. (2007). Privatisation and financial collapse in the nuclear industry: the origins and causes of the British energy crisis of 2002. Psycology Press. Nero, A. V. (March, 1979). A Guidebook to Nuclear Reactors. University of California. Maslak, D. H. (January 2006). Next-Generation Nuclear Energy: The ES-BWR. Nuclear News, a publication of the American Nuclear Society. G.F. Hewitt, J. G. (2000). Introduction to Nuclear Power (Series in Chemical and Mechanical Engineering)G. Taylor & Francis.

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