Are Gen IV Nuclear Plants the future?

Sunil Rajguru
New Update
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A big secret that environmentalists don’t tell you is that we have enough fossil fuels to last for centuries. On the other hand, we have reached a limit with hydroelectric projects, while solar and wind can never reach the levels of fossil fuels. So, oil is bad for the environment and green can never scale up. What’s the answer? It’s probably nuclear fuel.


The troubled history of nuclear

After World War II it was associated with the horrific Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts. Even after that there were a couple of problems. The developed countries went ahead with Uranium plants and neglected Thorium because the latter couldn’t be weaponized.

On the other hand, when developing countries commissioned Uranium nuclear plants then they were on a tight leash because of the fear of nuclear bombs. Tragedies like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima only made things worse. That’s why nuke tech languished at the bottom.


Is tech the answer?

That’s where Generation IV reactors (Gen IV) may provide the answer. The Generation IV International Forum looks at N-plant designs that target “improved safety, sustainability, efficiency, and cost”. There are six basic designs that have been zeroed in upon. However, while many countries are pursuing this path, India seems to be way behind.

Some designs promise a hundred-fold efficiency. In these new technologies N-waste will be toxic for hundreds of years as against thousands. Moreover, some can recycle the waste to produce more fuel. This is called a “a closed fuel cycle”. Better storage designs for N-waste have also been created.

There are startups coming all over the world pursuing Gen IV reactors. TerraPower is a company founded by Bill Gates in 2006. His company is fine-tuning TWR fast reactors: Traveling Wave Reactor. This is one of the designs under the Gen IV umbrella.

It’s high time that India also jumped on to the bandwagon. Who wouldn’t want a nuclear plant that is safer, more efficient, and cheaper to build?

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