To better understand the industrial and political contexts of nuclear innovation, it is necessary to consider the history of nuclear fission technologies (four generations of nuclear power plants): (1) GEN I (construction 1950–1970): early prototypes, using mainly natural uranium as fuel, graphite as moderator, and as coolant (built at the time of “Atoms for Peace,” 1953); (2) GEN II (yesterday, construction 1970–2000): safety and reliability of nuclear facilities and energy independence (in order to ensure security of supply); (3) GEN III (today, construction 2000–2040): continuous improvement of safety and reliability, and increased industrial competitiveness in a worldwide growing energy market; (4) GEN IV (tomorrow, construction from 2040): for increased sustainability (optimal utilization of natural resources and waste minimization) and proliferation resistance. The focus in this paper is on the design objectives and research issues associated to the latter generation IV. Their benefits are discussed according to a series of ambitious criteria or technology goals established at the international level (generation IV international forum (GIF)). One will have to produce not only electricity at lower costs but also heat at very high temperatures, while exploiting a maximum of fissile and fertile matters, and recycling all actinides, under safe and reliable conditions. Scientific viability studies and technological performance tests for each system are being carried out worldwide, in line with the GIF agreement (2001). Their commercial deployment is planned for 2040. In Sec. 6, it is shown to what extent GEN IV can be considered as a beneficial, responsible, and sustainable response to the societal and industrial challenges of the future low-carbon economy.
Nuclear Fission, Today and Tomorrow: From Renaissance to Technological Breakthrough (Generation IV)
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Van Goethem, G. (May 11, 2011). "Nuclear Fission, Today and Tomorrow: From Renaissance to Technological Breakthrough (Generation IV)." ASME. J. Pressure Vessel Technol. August 2011; 133(4): 044001. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4002265
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