In the blog post Senator Sean Edwards spruiks for the South Australian nuclear lobby the following statement is made in relation to integral fast reactors:
They “deliver abundant energy without any mining”. Hey – he doesn’t count the mining required for the conventional reactors to produce the wastes to put into the reprocessing reactors that he is touting!
That material has already been mined, in some case decades ago. It is stored above ground at dozens of locations around the world. Nearly all of that material can be used again for energy in the advanced reactors Senator Edwards has referred to. Lots of energy. Perhaps the author thinks the material can only be used once in an IFR and needs a completely fresh feed of material every time from old reactors? I’m not sure what the author thinks, however that is not the case.
Via the recycling process, when a fuel core has completed a cycle, the fuel is cleaned up and re-formed into new fuel for another cycle, with a small amount of “make-up” material added to take the place of the one tonne of material per gigawatt per year that is removed as true waste. As Senator Edwards recently pointed out, the equivalent energy production from brown coal emits 8.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. That one tonne of material has a far shorter half-life of around 30 years. That, combined with the tiny amount, makes it suitable for temporary storage followed by much simpler disposal.
I would expect a site like this to be relatively familiar with this material, as it has been the cornerstone of opposition to nuclear power for decades. Integral fast reactors present a solution to that problem.
Over time, we might reasonably expect (hope) these type of reactors to become the norm and displace the reactors using the once-through fuel cycle. Instead of mining fuel, we might collectively meet out clean energy needs with the material we already have available and we could do that for many hundreds of years, removing the need for energy mining
I am sure the anti-nuclear community in Australia will become more familiar with this technology as the year proceeds. I am confident many will be prepared to draw a line in the ideological sand and get behind a solution that makes sense on so many levels.