Licorice-Stick Nuclear Fuel: Keeping Nuclear Power Alive Until the Next Generation of Reactors Arrives on the Scene

Evolutionary Nuclear Fuel May Extend Safe Lifetimes of Existing Nuclear Reactors by Decades

The fuel rods made by Lightbridge differ from today’s in several ways. Rather than a ceramic oxide of uranium, they’re made of a uranium-zirconium alloy that transports heat more easily. And rather than a tube that contains cylindrical uranium pellets, each one is a single piece of metal, ridged like a piece of licorice and spiraling in a helix. This shape allows more water to flow across the rod’s surface, transferring more heat and thus increasing electricity generation. The bigger surface area also increases the safety margin of the reactor core, allowing the rods to sustain nuclear reactions at much lower temperatures: their internal temperature during operation is around 360 °C, nearly 900 degrees cooler than conventional rods. __ MIT Tech Review

This is a stop-gap approach to manage and extend the lives of existing nuclear reactors, until newer generations of safer, cleaner, more efficient, more scalable, more affordable, and more fool-proof reactors can be built, installed, and connected to power grids and process heat markets.

According to the article above, some developers of advanced liquid-fuel reactors appear threatened by Lightbridge’s stop-gap approach to extending the lives of old reactors using innovative new fuels. But. such a reaction is misplaced. It will take between 10 and 20 years for advanced new-gen reactors to be perfected, approved, built, and put in place. Perhaps longer, thanks to energy Luddites such as Obama, Hollande, Germany’s greens, and others.

Unreliable intermittent sources of low-quality energy — such as big wind and big solar — cannot replace current nuclear plants that are nearing the end of their conventional lifespan. No amount of wishful thinking or a cult-like belief in “clean green” can overturn the reality of power grid load leveling and power quality maintenance.

Brian Wang’s recent article on the new Lightbridge nuclear fuel

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5 Responses to Licorice-Stick Nuclear Fuel: Keeping Nuclear Power Alive Until the Next Generation of Reactors Arrives on the Scene

  1. yoananda says:

    I’m not sure the decline of nuclear energy can be reversed (purely technologically speaking, it could).
    Maybe we are already watching the consequences of idiocracy in motion.

    • alfin2101 says:

      World history is written in cycles of growth and invention alternating with cycles of barbarism, collapse, and decay. There have been several golden ages of invention and discovery, in various parts of the world, over human history.

      If one believes that a general decay is inevitable, perhaps he should begin to make provisions for himself and those he cares about.

      • yoananda says:

        I don’t know if we are in such a decay cycle. I don’t know it for sure. Maybe we are collapsing some “parts” of the society and growing some others:
        There are so many new discoveries nearly every-days.
        I don’t know if the percieve collapse is global.

        I’m just speaking of nuclear : too complex, too dangerous, too expensive. I’m aware of disruptive technology in that domain (like the small reactor in canada). I’m just wondering if we can stop the nuclear decline : it’s golden age have stopped in 80’s … and since, big projets (ITER and so on) seems to be a failure.
        Nuclear industry is facing huge problems right now (maybe I’m wrong and it’s just only a french problem).
        Instead (I’m not saying it’s good or bar) we have renewable that’s growing fast and taking the place.

        That’s all I’m saying.

        • alfin2101 says:

          Understood.

          Unfortunately, those who understand the technical aspects of power generation, distribution, and utilisation know that “renewables” cannot replace more reliable forms of high-quality power. Any modern industrial society that attempts to rely on “grid-scale wind and solar energy” at very high levels of penetration without tapping into huge backup supplies of hydroelectric, nuclear, coal, gas, and other reliable “on-demand” forms of high-quality power — will collapse.

          Denmark and Germany can still dump excess wind energy on other markets, and can tap into neighboring countries’ supplies of hydro, coal, nuclear, etc. to avert disaster — so far. But that is at relatively low levels of penetration under friendly market conditions. Poland and the Czech republic are beginning to stop letting their power grids be dumping grounds for low-quality German energy, and other European nations are certain to stop behaving so passively toward German energy stupidity as well. Merkel erred stupidly on immigration, and she did the same on Energiewende. The fallout can take years to become so obvious that even those without any technical knowledge begin to see.

          Grid-scale wind and solar are dangerous to power grids at high penetrations, and they drive retail power costs upward (not wholesale prices which are functions of government interference in the markets). If Germany’s leaders wanted to commit genocide on the German people, they could not have done much better with concentration camps and gas chambres. The current approach is just a bit slower — but it takes the people much longer to discover what is being done to them.

          • yoananda says:

            Indeed, I’m aware of the renewable disaster in Germany (it seems some companies are leaving Germany beacause of low power reliability, due to solar/wind grid).

            That’s why I was guessing : maybe we should explain nuclear decay by idiocrady rather than technical or “rationnal” reason ?

            After all, Merkel is elected.

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