Chapter 6

Breeder Reactors


Breeder reactors are designed to generate nuclear fuel at the same time as producing energy for electricity production. This is possible because a small number of isotopes will capture neutrons produced in a reactor, starting a reaction that leads to a new, heavy fissile isotope. This permits both neutron-induced fission for power generation and neutron capture, for fuel generation, to occur simultaneously. The two main, fertile, isotopes that are useful for this purpose are uranium-238 that will generate fissile plutonium and thorium-232 that will produce fissile uranium. Breeder reactors have a long history but have so far not proved successful commercially. However, a number of advanced designs use the concept. ...

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