Talk:Breeder reactor

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There is another page on this subject fast breeder. To my knowldege, breeders require more highly enriched uranium since the fast-neutron cross section of U235 is smaller, so greater enrichment is needed to sustain fission. I'm no expert, though. The early graphite reactors which produced plutonium used unenriched fuel, enrichment having yet to be accomplished. But I don't know that breeders are designed or in service which, as roadrunner suggests, use unenriched uranium.

Please sign your posts on talk pages, User:BobCMU76. (This is possibly a futile message as your contributions ceased in 2003. Hope you are well.) Andrewa 17:59, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Lead section[edit]

The lead section needs to better comply with WP:Lead. It is far too long and doesn't present a good summary of the article. And some statements are incorrect, for example, "nuclear waste became a greater concern by the 1990s". In fact, the absence of a working waste management facility became an important issue in the US by the mid-1970s:

In 1976, the California Energy Commission announced that it would not approve any more nuclear plants unless the utilities could specify fuel and waste disposal costs, an impossible task without decision on reprocessing, spent fuel storage and waste disposal. By the late 1970s, over thirty states had passed legislation regulating various activities associated with nuclear waste.[1]

Too promotional and unbalanced[edit]

This article is too promotional in that it does not present a balanced perspective on breeders, warts and all. I've tried to do some editing to present a more realistic picture but have been reverted or the edits have been disputed on this talk page, despite being well sourced. One recent article by independent academics focuses on the many sodium leaks of breeders, yet the term "leaks" is only used twice in the article. Phénix had 31 leaks during its lifetime, BN-600 reactor had 27 sodium leaks, KNK-II had 20 leaks, PFR had 20 leaks. Suffice to say that these leaks have occurred in almost all countries and at various stages of reactor operational life -- which is a significant and continuing problem that needs much more coverage in this article. The frequent sodium leaks in the steam generator suggest poor compatibility of sodium and steel. [1] -- Johnfos (talk) 05:38, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

I should mention that the edit which finally prompted me to write here, is this one: [2]. This is clearly a non-reliable promotional source making a dubious claim. Johnfos (talk) 13:03, 27 April 2014 (UTC)


What do you mean, 'too promotional'? Nobody is building breeders right now. Heck, we don;t NEED breeders except if we decide to burn up wastes. With fracking, we've got so much fossil fuel we literally don't know what to do with it all.

Also, "The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists", despite the name, isn't exactly a credible source for impartial data about nuclear stuff. Indeed, it's pretty stridently anti-nuclear, so take anything from them with a grain of salt. Yes, there's been sodium leaks, but so what? Large industrial installations are messy places. Reactors spring leaks, refineries explode and ooze yucky stuff, windmills fall over, dams break and cause floods, etc, etc. Sodium leaks are nothing unusual or even especially stressful. (For example, how many people have died in those leaks compared to how many have died in refinery accidents?)

You seem to have a disproportionate sense of risk from nuclear technology compared to other technologies. It's easy to do, there's LOTS of over-active fear-mongering about nuclear power.

Should we be careful with it? Heck yes, it's powerful stuff. But stressing yourself over sodium leaks? I wouldn't worry about it. Morg00 (talk) 04:55, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

We had a famous politician in this part of the world, and his favourite saying was "don't you worry about that!" in order to skirt around difficult issues... I thought of him as I read your note...
The article needs to say a lot more about the various problems of breeder reactors and their subsequent demise, as I've said above. I don't see a problem with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists as a source, and their governing board is described here. Which of these people do you see as "stridently anti-nuclear"?
-- Johnfos (talk) 09:50, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
When a study is published, it's credibility is reflected not only in the journal/source, but also in the authors. James Hansen, who I don't always agree with, or Stephen Chu could publish something on a blog and it would still, rightfully, be credible, since these are very smart people. In this particular instance, the BAS article is from a very, very credible source: MV Ramana, a physicist and scholar at Princeton: Prof. Ramana even won the prestigious Leo Szilard Lectureship Award in 2014. So even if the BAS was a dubious source (and I am not saying it is), the qualifications of the authors, and the arguments its presents, make it eminently credible.Bksovacool (talk) 11:35, 4 May 2014 (UTC)
Given the salient points of this discussion, there is no choice but to add an Unbalanced tag... Johnfos (talk) 10:58, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
NPGuy, you are normally so good at bringing things to talk and explaining your viewpoint. But your repeated reverts of the unbalanced tag, with just a cryptic edit summary, have left me a bit mystified. Johnfos (talk) 11:06, 26 May 2014 (UTC)
The unbalanced tag seems to have been based on a single citation in dispute. This seems wholly unjustified, particularly since the source seems reliable. NPguy (talk) 21:50, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

Rwendland (talk) 15:04, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Notable Reactors Table[edit]

Oh, I like this new table!

It's woefully incomplete, though....

Should have the Shippingport and MSRE for thorium, and a bunch of others.

I don't have much time today, let me pop in a ref link and I'll swing back through in a few days and punch this up a bit. Morg00 (talk) 02:55, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks! The one's chosen are basically the ones in the table 1 of cite 1, plus the new BN-800 from the IAEA PRIS database - I think those are basically all the ones that generate electricity (plus FFTF for some reason, probably because it is high power or U.S.). If we expand the list, I suggest a second table so we split the generating and non-generating ones, which have different data to usefully list.

Hmmm, I could see two tables, maybe.....

At a minimum, I'd see adding a column for moderator type, neutron spectrum, and reactor generation, although honestly, pretty much every fast breeder to date has been either a test reactor or a prototype, there are no commercial ones. :)

Also, uh, I'm not the best at wiki formatting, I've been trying to figure out how this table works. Is there any place to get a hint?

Morg00 (talk) 13:09, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

Never mind, I figured out the table. I think. :D Does anyone have any thoughts on additional columns? I was thinking about putting in a breeding ratio column, for example. That's rather important for a breeder reactor, after all. :D Also, the 'leaks' column seems a bit useless. I mean, for example, the BN-600 had a bunch of leaks early on, none of which amounted to anything, and it hasn't had a leak in a long, long time as far as I know. Could we re-use that column for the breeding ratio? I don't want the table to get super wide, for readability.

Morg00 (talk) 19:11, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

If we are just having a single table, MWt could do with its own column. I think "No of leaks" is a major metric that should be retained; my recollection is that a major factor in the dropping interest in FBRs was the coolant leaks and the continuing engineering difficulty in preventing them, along with the low Load average largely consequent to the leaks, higher capital costs compared to LWR and the declining immediate worry about uranium shortage. Superphenix that started in 1985 had many leaks including a 30 tonne leak, and Monju was abandoned due to a leak in commisioning in 1995; so this is not a problem that has been conquered. As I recall (would need to check), BN-600 was constructed with a segmented cooling system so it could continue running while any leak in a segment was fixed - largely accounting for better load average.Rwendland (talk) 14:38, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Well, all right, if you want to keep the leaks column that's fine, but if that's so, we should probably put in some notes on the size and impact of the leaks. BN-600, for example, has reported no leaks since 1994, segments or not.  :) To be honest, the whole 'OMG SODIUM IS BURNY' thing is pretty much a manufactured controversy, but ehn. :)

Also, I see you changed the Shippingport start date to 1958, which is sort of accurate, but the date I had was when it was converted into a thorium breeder from a uranium burner. So...we're both kind of right. I just felt showing Shippingport as being a breeder for all those years was misleading, but ehn, I can live with it.

As for the MWt column, that's actually an excellent idea. The thermal power of a reactor is a much more fundamental measure than electrical output, especially when you're dealing with experimental/test/prototypes, which is what all of these are. I could even argue to remove the electrical and load factor columns just for a MWt column. Simpler and better.

Oh, I'm also taking a crack at building a table demonstrating the fission chances for all actinides of interest, to demonstrate why fast spectrums are of use for burning. That chart may or may not turn out well, we'll have to see. :D

Edit: Re-signed, stoopid computer logged me out or something. :)

Morg00 (talk) 16:36, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Okay, the table worked, much to my surprise.

Is there a way to set colors in a table? I'd like to highlight various things (u238>pu239, Th232>u233, note tat lots of the heavier actinides are essentially pure absorbers in a thermal spectrum, etc) and I think colors would be a good way of doing that.

I'll poke around some, see if I spot anything.

Morg00 (talk) 17:01, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Proposal to shorten article[edit]

Ok, I've been tinkering on this one again, and I really like this new table. So, I thought I'd tidy up the bottom half of the artcle, and I'm seeing it is just a mess.

We currently have little blurbs on a bunch of reactors, and there's stuff in here that's years out of date, going back as far as 2006, if I'm reading this right.

Even more important, pretty much every reactor mentioned has its own page. Why do we have blurbs on THIS page if the machine in question has it's OWN page? That means we have to do twice as much updating, and things are duplicated, and it's hard to keep everything straight.

So, I was thinking we could (and by we I probably mean 'I could') look over all the reactors referenced in the bottom section, incorporate them into this new table (which is very good), and then move good text to the actual reactor's page or delete the outdated stuff.

That would lower this article's word count a huge amount, retain all the actual information on each reactor's dedicated page, and make keeping this mess current much easier in the future, since we won't have to edit multiple pages if/when things change.

Sound like a plan?

Morg00 (talk) 17:53, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Seems a good idea to me. Better to have the all the detail in each reactor's page, to reduce effort in the long run. Rwendland (talk) 21:05, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

All right, three weeks and no objections, I'll see about poking at this in the next month or so, barring incident.

Also, here's a cool reference I want to incorporate:

Morg00 (talk) 14:28, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^ John Byrne and Steven M. Hoffman (1996). Governing the Atom: The Politics of Risk, Transaction Publishers, p. 219.