Kevin Drum’s helpful “Short Primer on Modern Nuclear Reactor Design” includes a mention of thermal breeders – a type of reactor that produces more fuel than it uses.
Sound too good to be true?
Not when you consider that, on December 20, 1951, Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 1, near Arco, Idaho, became the first power plant in the world to produce electricity using atomic energy. That’s an impressive feat in and of itself. But there’s more: In 1953, testing confirmed that EBR-1 was, in fact, breeding fuel. The reactor operated safely for 12 years.
So when Drum says that breeder reactor technology represents one of many ideas that “deserve buckets of money for research to make them ever cheaper, more reliable, and easier to maintain,” keep in mind that we had a working one sixty-six years ago.