Posted by John Lindberg

Weinberg Next Nuclear’s technology officer John Lindberg has published an article in Swedish publication NyTeknik. The following is a translation of the original article.

 

Why do we accept that modern nuclear power is equated with the ancient technology of Chernobyl? To opt out of modern reactors because of prejudice means that future generations will live with the radioactive waste. Only nuclear power can quickly phase-out fossil fuels, writes John Lindberg of Weinberg Next Nuclear.

Imagine that you buy a tub of ice cream, take a scoop and then throw the rest. Obviously a wasteful behaviour. Believe it or not, but this is happening right now in Sweden, and it is time for a change.

Today, we use about 2 percent of the energy used to extract the nuclear fuel, despite the fact that modern technology can take advantage of the vast majority. This failure is unethical in a world where 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity, and a betrayal of future generations when the spent nuclear fuel will remain for hundreds of thousands of years.

One of the answers to this problem is called Integral Fast Reactors, IFR. This type of reactors can use all uranium as fuel, not just the 2 percent that Swedish reactors do today. They can also use so-called transuranic elements, such as plutonium, as fuel. This multiplies the carbon-free energy that nuclear power can generate, but also dramatically reduced the amount of waste from nuclear power.

The reactors could also use waste from conventional reactors, thereby reducing the total amount of spent fuel awaiting disposal. To bury the spent fuel when there is a technical solution is nothing but a betrayal of future generations.

Isn’t the risk too high? No one can deny that the meltdown at Chernobyl was a horrible event, especially for the hundreds of thousands who had to abandon their homes.

The type of reactor used at Chernobyl was commonly known as unstable and dangerous and Fukushima reactors were subjected to a most serious natural disaster never designed for.

You would never compare the first mobile phone with a modern smartphone and claim that they are the same thing. Why do we accept then that modern nuclear power is equated with the ancient technology that we saw in Chernobyl? IFR has been designed so that accidents like those in Harrisburg, Chernobyl and Fukushima should be impossible according to the laws of physics. The concept is extremely safe, both from accidents and the less peaceful nations and groups in search of material for nuclear weapons.

Einstein said, “The world we have created is a product of our thinking, and it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

It is time to change the mind-set. We need an energy revolution. Our goal should be to kill the fossil fuel sector. Unfortunately, the traditional renewable sources of energy cannot lead the revolution. They are inefficient both production-wise and financially. The sun is not always shining and the wind does not blow every day. Only nuclear power can quickly phase out fossil fuels, and the time running out.

To opt out fast reactor technology because of prejudice would also mean that all future generations will have to live with a threat from radioactive waste, which we instead can use to extract carbon-free electricity. To ignore this technology is illogical and short-sighted.

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