Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All Fission Reactors Are Not Created Equal

For the next few days or so, I will be taking a look at the different types of nuclear reactors that have existed or have only been theorized about on paper. The reason being is that there are so many different potential reactor designs that it is often confusing to people outside of the field of nuclear engineering to determine how reactor designs differ and what the pros and cons of each design are. To make matters worse, the names of these reactors are often abbreviated to different acronyms making it even more difficult for laypeople to understand what the different terms mean.

This will be a bit of an undertaking, as there are literally hundreds of different reactor designs. Some have only existed on paper, others were only experimental prototypes, while others have been built but have since been decommissioned, either from age, lack of economic viability, or from politics. Although some reactor types are highly impractical or dangerous and have rightfully been consigned to the dustbin of history, there are some designs that would have been quite impressive from an economic and commercial standpoint.

At the moment, I am wondering how to proceed in terms of how I will talk about this. I am leaning towards a series of posts, with each post concerning a different "family" of reactor types based on what they use as their moderator materials. However, I am open to ideas from anybody who might offer suggestions.


Martin Burkle said...

A chart by moderator type by advantage/disadvantage type would be great. You can make a row for each moderator type and a column for each advantage/disadvantage type. I think the most effective way to do this is for you to think through the chart at the start so you know what it will look like at the end, but present a little chart at the end of the first review with one row. Then add a row each time you talk about a new moderator type.
The grid need not be very exact. Maybe a happy face, sad face, and a neutral face. If this seems too cute, please excuse me, I was a teacher. Good luck with your series.

Neurovore said...

All good points. However, I do want to go over some of the details in terms of how the reactor types differ and what the terminology means in terms of how it applies to nuclear technology.

There is also the question of when does a reactor type become a completely different design as opposed to an existing design that has been slightly modified but is based on the same concept. I want to speak about details without degenerating to the point of facetiousness.

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