CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world. Subscribe today!


Clean Power uranium

Published on February 2nd, 2009 | by Ariel Schwartz

13

TerraPower Developing Nuclear Reactors that Run on Depleted Uranium

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

February 2nd, 2009 by
 

Perhaps the uranium industry’s fear of peak uranium is unfounded. Intellectual Ventures is preparing to spin off a company called TerraPower to develop nuclear reactors that run primarily on depleted uranium. While most nuclear reactors use enriched uranium, the depleted variety has many advantages— most importantly, a smaller amount of uranium is required to create the same amount of power.

Since less uranium is necessary, the risk of nuclear proliferation is reduced, as is the amount of toxic waste created. According to TerraPower, available supplies of depleted uranium could be used for centuries— maybe even thousands of years.

The company’s reactors will vary from only a few megawatts (enough for industrial sites) to multi-gigawatts (enough for large cities). TerraPower may also use thorium to power future reactor sites.

Photo Credit: CC-Licensed by Flickr user bionerd

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

Print Friendly

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

Tags: ,


About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



  • Pie lover

    that seems pretty cool that they use less uranium, but still get the same power

  • nerd

    Could someone open-source this technology?

    It could practically run on spent nuclear fuel from conventional powerstations, as well as with very little enriched uranium ore. Some deposits of uranium also contain ore which could be used straight ahead.

    This reactor would also guarantee peaceful use of nuclear fuels and reduce political implications from running enrichment plants such as the case with Iran and the USA.

  • nerd

    Could someone open-source this technology?

    It could practically run on spent nuclear fuel from conventional powerstations, as well as with very little enriched uranium ore. Some deposits of uranium also contain ore which could be used straight ahead.

    This reactor would also guarantee peaceful use of nuclear fuels and reduce political implications from running enrichment plants such as the case with Iran and the USA.

  • Forrest

    Why does this sound too good to be true?, Quinn has already taken it to the next level…but why stop there, I’m thinking disposable reactors for every home, the size of a pin head, available from your local pharmacy.

  • Forrest

    Why does this sound too good to be true?, Quinn has already taken it to the next level…but why stop there, I’m thinking disposable reactors for every home, the size of a pin head, available from your local pharmacy.

  • Greg

    I’ve always thought that the way many “green” leaning people rejected nuclear power outright was wrong. I do agree that implementation needs to be extremely careful, but whether it’s nuclear waste that has to be contained or carbon dioxide that’s causing the green house effect, every power source has its pros and cons. But research has to go forth in all areas including nuclear and where the right nuclear technology makes sense it should be used.

    Compared to everything but solar and hydro (which have their own severely limiting considerations) nuclear’s per pound efficiency is too high to ignore.

  • Greg

    I’ve always thought that the way many “green” leaning people rejected nuclear power outright was wrong. I do agree that implementation needs to be extremely careful, but whether it’s nuclear waste that has to be contained or carbon dioxide that’s causing the green house effect, every power source has its pros and cons. But research has to go forth in all areas including nuclear and where the right nuclear technology makes sense it should be used.

    Compared to everything but solar and hydro (which have their own severely limiting considerations) nuclear’s per pound efficiency is too high to ignore.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/quijon Quinn

    Smaller is o.k. Much of our power is lost in transmission lines so if you can make smaller reactors that are safer and located in each suburb you reduce this loss.

    You also cluster these reactors on the grid in such a way that it makes our power systems more tolerant to failures and any kind of malicious attacks be it cyber-terrorism or physical attacks of terror.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/quijon Quinn

    Smaller is o.k. Much of our power is lost in transmission lines so if you can make smaller reactors that are safer and located in each suburb you reduce this loss.

    You also cluster these reactors on the grid in such a way that it makes our power systems more tolerant to failures and any kind of malicious attacks be it cyber-terrorism or physical attacks of terror.

  • Bubba Nicholson

    This is great. Guess what? I can pay for it. I found the cure for crime, the cure for drug addiction, and even a cure for sexual perversion. These are all related ecologically, these three compulsions. Here it is and any dope can do it right now with three five piece packs of Wrigley’s chewing gum: 150 mg of healthy adult male facial skin surface lipid pheromone. The pheromone is generally passed in kissing (kids kissing their father on his face). It is essentially the chemical device to provide one with ‘unconditional paternal love and approval’.

    The stereochemistry of the many strange components (some known to be pheromones in other species yet!) strongly suggests that these seven hundred or so puppies communicate. One of them, sebaleic acid, is found nowhere else in nature and marks each of us as human. Neat huh? Wait till you see your first crack prostitute emerge, find a nice husband, and have a baby. They’ll name it after you! It’s great!

  • Bubba Nicholson

    This is great. Guess what? I can pay for it. I found the cure for crime, the cure for drug addiction, and even a cure for sexual perversion. These are all related ecologically, these three compulsions. Here it is and any dope can do it right now with three five piece packs of Wrigley’s chewing gum: 150 mg of healthy adult male facial skin surface lipid pheromone. The pheromone is generally passed in kissing (kids kissing their father on his face). It is essentially the chemical device to provide one with ‘unconditional paternal love and approval’.

    The stereochemistry of the many strange components (some known to be pheromones in other species yet!) strongly suggests that these seven hundred or so puppies communicate. One of them, sebaleic acid, is found nowhere else in nature and marks each of us as human. Neat huh? Wait till you see your first crack prostitute emerge, find a nice husband, and have a baby. They’ll name it after you! It’s great!

  • Pablos

    Ariel,

    I’m Pablos, I work at the lab at Intellectual Ventures. MIT Technology Review has listed the TerraPower reactor as one if their “10 Emerging Technologies 2009″ and a bit more detail has been released. Here’s the article, with a diagram of the reactor and a little video explaining how it works:

    http://technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?ch=specialsections&sc=tr10&id=22114

    I read your blog every day, thanks for keeping it up.

    pablos.

  • Pablos

    Ariel,

    I’m Pablos, I work at the lab at Intellectual Ventures. MIT Technology Review has listed the TerraPower reactor as one if their “10 Emerging Technologies 2009″ and a bit more detail has been released. Here’s the article, with a diagram of the reactor and a little video explaining how it works:

    http://technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?ch=specialsections&sc=tr10&id=22114

    I read your blog every day, thanks for keeping it up.

    pablos.

Back to Top ↑