Completely automated nuclear reactors for long-term operation Page: 4 of 15
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COMPLETELY AUTOMATED NUCLEAR
REACTORS FOR LONG-TERM OPERATION*
Edward Teller,^ Muriel Ishikawa# and Lowell Wood+
Stanford University, Stanford CA 94305-6010
We discuss new types of nuclear fission reactors optimized for the generation of
high-temperature heat for exceedingly safe, economic, and long-duration electricity
production in large, long-lived central power stations.
These reactors are quite different in design, implementation and operation from
conventional light-water-cooled and -moderated reactors (LWRs) currently in
widespread use, which were scaled-up from submarine nuclear propulsion reactors.
They feature an inexpensive initial fuel loading which lasts the entire 30-year design
life of the power-plant. The reactor contains a core comprised of a nuclear ignitor and
a nuclear burn-wave propagating region comprised of natural thorium or uranium, a
neutron reflector which also implements a thermostating function on the reactivity, a
pressure shell for coolant transport purposes, and automatic emergency heat-
dumping means to obviate concerns regarding loss-of-coolant accidents during the
plant's operational and post-operational life.
These reactors are proposed to be situated in suitable environments at -100 meter
depths underground, and their operation is completely automatic, with no moving
parts and no human access during or after its operational lifetime, in order to avoid
both error and misuse. The power plant's heat engine and electrical generator sub-
systems are located above-ground.
Advantages include reduced costs, as well as increased safety and reliability.
Introduction. One of the ancient needs of mankind regarding the physical
environment has been for a 'well' of high-grade heat, from which thermal energy
could be conveniently drawn, whenever and to the extent desired. With the
* Prepared for invited presentation at the Frontiers in Physics Symposium at the joint
American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers Texas
Meeting, 26-28 October 1995, Lubbock, TX. Portions of this work performed under
auspices of Contract W-7405-eng-48 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the
University of California. Opinions expressed are those of the authors only.
Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, and Consultant, Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94550.
# Visiting Scholar, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Center for
International Cooperation In Space. Permanent address: Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94550.
+ Visiting Fellow, Hoover Institution. Permanent address: Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory, Livermore, CA 94550.
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Teller, E.; Ishikawa, M. & Wood, L. Completely automated nuclear reactors for long-term operation, article, January 1, 1996; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc669077/m1/4/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.