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- The Doctor
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From another message board I lurk on, someone posted an article about China's civilian nuclear research
Chinese scientists have made a technological breakthrough in the country's nuclear energy program. The new accelerator-driven system (ADS) is able to raise the utilization rate of uranium to 95 percent, a great leap forward from less than 1 percent using the current technology, paving way for a safer, greener nuclear future, said the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) at a press conference on June 8.
My understanding is that the relevant isotope in uranium (ie that is actually used) is less than 1%, and some reactors like fast breeders can get that up to 60% ( 60 times more efficient than a normal reactor
, but they aren't economically competitive with other reactors, even those that only use less than 1% of the uranium. Moreover fast reactors appear to already use the ADS system.
So going from 1% to 95% may not necessarily be that impressive if its a reactor which can already do 60% of uranium.
Original article here
(unfortunately the translated articles in English don't appear to be as detail as the ones in Chinese given the difference in length between them, and this English one gives a bare minimum of information)
So hopefully someone who understands nuclear physics better can explain it better, because as a nuclear fanboy this type of news interest me.
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- Padawan Learner
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As I understand the article:
Uranium contains 0.7 % of the fissile isotope Uranium U-235 and 99.3 % of the non-fissile U-238, a.k.a. "depleted Uranium".
FNRs use the non-fissile U-238 to breed Plutonium-239 and Pu-241.
The Plutonium is then used to create heat/energy.
Of the U-238, only 60 % could be converted by the old design.
And this new FNR can convert up to 95% which means more of the existing fuel is used instead of being turned into radioactive waste.
Overall the FNR design is safer (too hot and the Pu-breeding stops) but less cost-efficient so far.
Tough that's only my understanding of the english article. And I am barely a layman on nuclear physics and engineering.
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