Fast Reactor Development in the United States

Thomas B. Cochran, Harold A. Feiveson, Frank von Hippel, "Fast Reactor Development in the United States," Science & Global Security, 17, no. 2-3, (2009): 109-131.
This article chronicles the rise and fall of fast-reactor research in the United States. Research on fast reactors began at the end of World War II and represented a large fraction of the total U.S. research effort on civilian nuclear energy until the early 1980s. The goal of most of this research was to develop a plutonium breeder reactor capable of producing more plutonium from U-238 than is consumed. But with the termination of the Clinch River Breeder Reactor project in 1983, fast reactor development in the United States essentially ended. Safety issues played a role in this end to the fast breeder reactor program, but more important reasons were nuclear proliferation concerns and a growing conviction that breeder reactors would not be needed or economically competitive with light water reactors for decades, if ever.

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