- Nuclear Energy
- Expert Workshop Series
By mid-century, the world population is expected to rise to approximately 10 billion people. Seeking a safe, reliable, and environmentally friendly means to provide energy to this exploding population is a global imperative, and fast reactors have the potential to become a major part of the solution to this critical issue.
Fast reactor technologies have a number of critical advantages over traditional light water reactor systems—dramatically improved uranium utilization, improved waste management through the consumption of long-lived transuranic elements in spent fuel, and enhanced passive safety potential. These inherent characteristics allow for safer and more sustainable electricity generation from nuclear sources than is possible through currently available commercial technologies. Currently, there are operational fast reactor units in Japan, Russia, India, and China, with a total of 400 reactor years of experience with SFRs in several countries. Present RD&D efforts aim to make SFRs more commercially attractive in terms of cost and investment risk, reliable, and proliferation resistant. Sharing lessons learned and experience with SFR systems and combining the progress achieved through independent national programs can accelerate progress in key SFR research areas: advanced fuels, in-service inspection, advanced power conversion, and operations.
One example of international collaboration in SFR R&D is the bilateral research partnership between the US and the Republic of Korea. Argonne National Laboratory and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute recently signed an MOU to jointly develop the Prototype Generation-IV Sodium Fast Reactor (PGSFR). The ROK’s policy commitment to advanced reactor development and considerable US experience with SFRs allow for great synergies through this partnership. Moreover, the US and Korea share a common technological platform in SFRs—both countries have research experience with SFRs using metallic fuels coupled with pyroprocessing.