Economist: Gen4 nukes need new materials

The first Gen4 reactor is proposed to be built by 2022 if they can find some magical new materials.

But several technical challenges remain. In particular, says William Cook of the University of New Brunswick in Canada, “current reactor materials that do not crack corrode excessively, while materials that do not corrode excessively crack.” New alloys will be needed that do not crack or corrode under stress.

Inside story: Nuclear’s next generation | The Economist.

I hope they succeed as we are going to need all the power options we can get. And remember: Gen4 reactors eat today’s nuclear waste, and could power the world for the next 700 years on today’s waste and warheads, consuming 90% of the waste and the 1/10th that remains is so ‘hot’ that it only has to be buried for 500 years before it is safe again.

I kind of hope renewable energy leaps ahead in cost savings, new materials, and baseload power provisions… but maybe there will be a place for quite a few Gen4 reactors in existing nuclear countries, mainly to deal with the waste problem for future generations?

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