I'm just going to throw this in as a warm-up because it's my first blog, but isn't this ridiculous? Bill Gates is in negotiations with Korea to develop the sodium-cool fast reactor, the one we abandoned in the 1990s and many people think is the ultimate technology. This is on top of Gates going to China three months ago to develop the Travelling Wave. This is America's #1 entrepreneur, one of the two or three richest men in the world, and doesn't even make any attempt to develop these technologies in this country. In fact, the American press doesn't even report it. This article has only appeared in Korean papers.
Can we really expect to remain a leader in this technology when our best minds have to go abroad to look for progress? Our grandchildren are going to be paying dearly for this.
I wonder if Bill Gates even tried Canada as developing ground. We could use a shakeup. We have a more forgiving regulator I hope. Although the latest news from CNSC (our nuke regulator) about Ontario Power Corporation's (OPG) first "New" Reactor permit in 30 years has me wondering. Further reading www.ottawacitizen.com/.../story.html and www.nuclearfaq.ca/cnf_sectionC.htm and my own recent posts thoriummsr.com/.../laws-against-thorium-prevent-rare-earth-industry-from-happening-in-north-america and thoriummsr.com/.../why-canada-should-look-at-lftr-or-dmsr
It's puzzling that he seems to be ignoring the liquid thorium fluoride reactor (LFTR). In several respects, it seems more practical than a Na cooled reactor.
One of the biggest challenges of the Na cooled reactor is that Na reacts violently with water. Presumably there will be a steam generator which transfers heat from the Na to water. If a tube burst, it could send water into the the Na with excessively exciting results. Burst tubes don't seem to be unusual; they have occurred in PWRs where the pressure differential between the water in the reactor and the water being boiled is far less than it would be in a Na cooled reactor between the Na and the water being boiled. Thus, designing a safe steam generator for a Na cooled water would be more challenging.
It is unfortunate that Bill Gates venture into Korea to develop nuclear reactors has not been covered by the U.S. news media. Just what is the purpose of our media if they fail to cover important developments like this?
@anonymous: One of the advantages of using Na is the low pressure used during operation. Since the sodium will be at over 500 degrees celsius at only slightly above atmospheric pressure, you will not have the tube rupture problems of a PWR. Also the system will be designed for very rapid detection and mitigation of leaks if they do occur.