Chapter 13. Breeder Reactors

The most important feature of the fission process is, of course, the enormous energy release from each reaction. Another significant fact, however, is that for each neutron absorbed in a fuel such as U-235, more than two neutrons are released. To maintain the chain reaction, only one is needed. Any extra neutrons available can thus be used to produce other fissile materials such as Pu-239 and U-233 from the “fertile” materials, U-238 and Th-232, respectively. The nuclear reactions yielding the new isotopes were described in Section 6.3. If losses of neutrons can be reduced enough, the possibility exists for new fuel to be generated in quantities as large, or even larger than the amount consumed, a condition called ...

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