Fast breeder reactor

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A fast breeder reactor is a nuclear power reactor in which design tradeoffs have been made not to produce the ideal heat for power generation, but to produce reasonable heat but also a substantial amount of high-energy neutrons that will make ("breed") potential nuclear fuel of an appropriate plutonium isotope. Economically, it seems attractive when a reactor can produce 30 percent more fuel than it burns.[1] The reactor product is not immediately usable as fuel, but requires complex and hazardous plutonium reprocessing.

There has been hesitancy to use this design, over concerns on weapons-grade plutonium becoming too widely available. Only two, neither of which is operational, have been built in the U.S.

References

  1. P. Andrew Karam (17 July 2006 journal = Scientific American), How do fast breeder reactors differ from regular nuclear power plants?