At least 2050 before any Generation IV nuclear reactor would be ready

NuClear News May 15 The Generation IV International Forum (GIF) is a co-operative international endeavour which was set up to carry out the research and development needed to establish the feasibility and performance capabilities of the next generation nuclear reactors.

Six reactor types have been selected for further development. These include: the Gas-cooled Fast Reactor (GFR), the Leadcooled Fast Reactor (LFR), the Molten Salt Reactor (MSR), the Supercritical Water-cooled Reactor (SCWR), the Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor (SFR) and the Very High Temperature Reactor (VHTR). (1)

The French Radiological Protection Agency (IRSN) has carried out a review of these systems from the point of view of safety and radiation protection. On the basis of its examination, IRSN considers the SFR system to be the only one of the six to have reached a degree of maturity compatible with the construction of a Generation IV reactor prototype during the first half of the 21st century.

Even then this will depend on further studies. (2) This is hardly a ringing endorsement, let alone anything like a quickly deployable climate solution – ie the SFR is the best possibility depending on further studies leading to a prototype before 2050!

DECC estimate in their 2013 Nuclear Energy Research and Development Roadmap (3) that the first commercial Generation IV reactors should be operating by 2040. That is still years away considering the timescale for dealing with the climate change threat.

Yet pro-nuclear environmentalists still promote these new fast reactors as if they are just around the corner. (“It may take ten years for these reactors to prove their potential” according to Kirsty Gogan writing in Nuclear Engineering International.)(4)


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