Robin Grimes, Imperial College London, and William Nuttall, Cambridge University, UK, have performed a study based on how nuclear technologies are developing and new types of reactors that could come online and be more efficient than current reactors by 2030.
Suggested in the report are:
- new ‘fast reactors’ that could use uranium approximately 15 times more efficiently than current light water reactors.
- development of reactors with replaceable parts, increasing plant lifetime to over 70 years.
- ship-borne civil power plants that could be moored offshore, generate electricity for nearby towns and cities. This could reduce the need for countries to build large electricity grid infrastructures where none currently exist.
- small, modular reactors that never require refueling. These could be delivered to countries as sealed units, generate power for approximately 40 years and returned to the manufacturer for decommissioning and disposal.
The study suggests that these flexible technologies could also play an important role in preventing the proliferation of nuclear armaments, because, as in the case of the modular reactors, only the country of origin would have access to spent fuel, meaning that other countries could not reprocess the fuel for use in weapons.
- Generating the Option of a Two-Stage Nuclear Renaissance
R. W. Grimes, W. J. Nuttall
Science 2010, 329(5993), 799 – 803.