Nuclear Reactors

Hosted byArt Bell

Nuclear Reactors

About the show

Nuclear physicist Dr. Charles Till, who spent nearly 20 years at Argonne National Laboratory working on the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR), discussed the history and current state of nuclear reactors, as well as reasons for the cancellation of his IFR program.

Till said most of the world's nuclear reactors are based on the American "light" water (ordinary water) reactor, though Canada has constructed "heavy" water reactors to generate electricity. A major difference between these two types of reactors, explained Till, is that American reactors require enriched uranium (U-235) to run, while Canadian reactors are fueled by natural uranium only.

Till also explained that nuclear reactors are not fuel efficient, using only a small fraction (less than 1%) of the mined uranium for fission and discarding the rest in spent fuel rods. He said the goal of his work on the IFR was, in part, to solve the enormous fuel inefficiency of nuclear reactors. According to Till, this new reactor used a process that allowed the fuel to be recycled. Unfortunately, the potential benefits of the IFR may never be realized since the research program was shut down in 1994 due to presidential budget cuts, he said.

During Saturday's first hour, Whitley Strieber thanked Coast listeners for their prayers during his wife's recent health crisis and introduced Anne Strieber, who shared her near-death experience and the lessons she learned from it. Anne believes she visited the world of the dead, where a voice said to her, "You can keep going if you want." According to Anne, her beloved (and deceased) cat Coe was there and helped guide her back to the living.