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USA’s costly new pork-barrel project – DOE’s Versatile Fast Neutron Source Nuclear Reactor

Science Mag 3rd July 2018 , Plans for a controversial multibillion-dollar U.S. nuclear research reactor
are coming together at lightning speed—much too fast, say some nuclear policy experts. With a push from Congress, the Department of Energy (DOE) has begun designing the Versatile Fast Neutron Source, which would be the first DOE-built reactor since the 1970s.

It would generate high-energy neutrons for testing materials and fuels for so-called fast reactors. But U.S. utilities have no plans to deploy such reactors, which some nuclear proliferation analysts say pose a risk because they use plutonium, the
stuff of atomic bombs.

Researchers are divided on whether the reactor, which would likely be built at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) near Idaho
Falls, is badly needed or a boondoggle. “Definitely, there is a lack of capability in the U.S. and a shortage of such facilities worldwide,” says Massimiliano Fratoni, a nuclear engineer at the University of California, Berkeley. But Frank von Hippel, a nuclear physicist at Princeton University, says, “It’s a pork-barrel project.”


July 6, 2018 - Posted by | technology, USA

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