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Sustainable, Full-Scope Nuclear Fission Energy at Planetary Scale

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Author Info

  • Robert Petroski

    ()
    (Nuclear Innovation Engineer, TerraPower LLC, 330 120th Avenue NE, Suite 100, Bellevue, WA 98005, USA)

  • Lowell Wood

    ()
    (Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA)

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    Abstract

    A nuclear fission-based energy system is described that is capable of supplying the energy needs of all of human civilization for a full range of human energy use scenarios, including both very high rates of energy use and strikingly-large amounts of total energy-utilized. To achieve such “planetary scale sustainability”, this nuclear energy system integrates three nascent technologies: uranium extraction from seawater, manifestly safe breeder reactors, and deep borehole disposal of nuclear waste. In addition to these technological components, it also possesses the sociopolitical quality of manifest safety, which involves engineering to a very high degree of safety in a straightforward manner, while concurrently making the safety characteristics of the resulting nuclear systems continually manifest to society as a whole. Near-term aspects of this nuclear system are outlined, and representative parameters given for a system of global scale capable of supplying energy to a planetary population of 10 billion people at a per capita level enjoyed by contemporary Americans, i.e ., of a type which might be seen a half-century hence. In addition to being sustainable from a resource standpoint, the described nuclear system is also sustainable with respect to environmental and human health impacts, including those resulting from severe accidents.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 11 (November)
    Pages: 3088-3123

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:11:p:3088-3123:d:21440

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    Related research

    Keywords: nuclear fission energy; breeder reactor; traveling wave reactor; manifest safety; seawater uranium extraction; deep borehole nuclear waste disposal; nuclear process heat; nuclear transportation ;

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    1. Sovacool, Benjamin K., 2008. "Valuing the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power: A critical survey," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 2940-2953, August.
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