Nuclear Power was : Sun's Tech Chief Has His Head Up His Ass

From: John Clark (
Date: Wed Mar 15 2000 - 10:25:53 MST

Chuck Kuecker <>Wrote:

> Remember, one of the first acts of the Klinton administration was to
> Argonne Labs' Integral Fast Reactor project, just before the technology
> demonstrator unit was to go on line.

A good move, otherwise it would have been an even bigger white elephant than
the space shuttle. It just makes no economic sense. The thing's claim to
fame is its
ability to turn common U238 into Plutonium in a very big way, but there's
already a
glut of Plutonium in the world. Unfortunately.

> This design was touted as being inherently safe,

I don't think that's true. A breeder has a much higher energy density than
a regular
reactor and that means it's inherently more dangerous. A conventional
reactor uses
Uranium as fuel in which the U235 has been enriched from the naturally
.7% concentration to about 4%, you need about 85% to make a bomb. A breeder
uses weapons grade plutonium as a fuel, and lots of it. Also, a
conventional reactor
uses water as a coolant and to slow down the neutrons, a breeder uses
molten sodium
that burns in the air and explodes in the presents of water. After a short
time in operation
this hot liquid sodium becomes intensely radioactive. And that's not just
a theoretical danger,
in 1996 a leak in a sodium pump destroyed the newest and largest breeder
reactor in Japan,
if it wasn't in a containment building it could have been a human disaster.
It's already an
economic disaster of several hundred million dollars.

All reactors produce plutonium, a big power plant reactor will invariable
produce many tons
of it in its lifetime. A breeder reactor is designed to maximize the
production of plutonium but
I don't think that's a real good idea. There is already so much of it in
existence, thousands of
tons, that it's very hard to keep track of it all. You only need slightly
over 9 pounds to make
a crude nuclear bomb, less if you're clever.

What I like is fusion power, in particular the reaction between non
radioactive deuterium
(Hydrogen 2) and non radioactive Helium 3, this produces non radioactive
Helium 4,
  an easily controlled proton, 18.3 mev of energy, and most important of
all, no neutron
to make other things radioactive. Unfortunately there's not much Helium 3
on Earth and
you need a higher temperature and pressure to achieve the reaction than the
tritium reaction most are talking about.

       John K Clark

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