The Progress Of Commercial Nuclear Power

1125 words - 5 pages

As begins every typical paper written on the progress of commercial nuclear power, a bit of history related to the nuclear power industry is custom. Beginning with the Generation I reactors (early prototype reactors), such as Shippingport, Fermi I and Magnox, which lead us to Generation II reactors (commercial power reactors), such as the more commonly known light water reactors; pressurized water reactors (PWR) and boiling water reactors (BWR). Other General II reactors include the CANada Deuterium Uranium reactor (CANDU), advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR), and the voda voda energo reactor (VVER). Next are the Generation III reactors, which consist of the advanced boiling water reactors (ABWR), System 80+, AP600 and European pressurized reactor (EPR). Advancing further brings us to the Generation IV reactors, which are divided into two categories: thermal reactors and fast reactors. A few thermal reactors include the very-high-temperature reactor (VHTR), molten-salt reactor (MSR) and supercritical water reactor (SCWR). Some fast reactors are the Gas-cooled fast reactor (GFR), sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR) and lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR). Scientists and engineers are constantly working to progress the methods of producing power to improve the safety, efficiency and economics aspects. As studies progress, we inch closer and closer to the ideal commercial plant to wean towards reliable carbon-free power sources. However, despite valiant efforts, society still relies on the generation II PWRs and BWRs as our primary source of nuclear power. Mention figure.
In 1958, Savelli M. Feinburg purposed the first known proposal for a fast reactor that could sustain a breed-and-burn condition using only natural or depleted uranium as fuel []. In his design, un-enriched fuel moves around the core to sustain fission. Feinburg’s proposal was studied in depth during the late 1900s; however, engineers were not able claim the method practical due to analytical and modeling restraints. State-of-the-art computational capabilities and expanded data and research have allowed company to venture into the research once again. One of the main companies seriously researching the route is TerraPower. In 2006, a company called Intellectual Ventures held an Invention Session to find a solution to global energy issues. The convention decided on the traveling wave reactor (TWR) as the path forward []. In 2008, TerraPower, a spin-off company of Intellectual Ventures, became a private company. The company began developing the first practical engineering embodiment of a breed-and-burn fast reactor. The initial studies focused on having the wave travel through fixed fuel []. Continuing further, in 2011, TerraPower completed the first practical engineering designs for the TWR-P (TerraPower’s prototype TWR reactor), with the fuel traveling through the wave []. Then, in 2012, TerraPower completes the conceptual design for the TWR reactor core. They are ready to finalize the...

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