For next generation nuclear, some look to the past to build for the future

For decades, the light water reactor has dominated the nuclear-power industry. Alternative reactor designs abandoned years ago, however, may be piquing the interest of nuclear firms, as engineers seek to develop safe, carbon-free power generation capacity while addressing age-old challenges in the nuclear sector, like safety, cost, and waste disposal, Nature magazine reports.

Some have wondered if the molten salt reactor, a technology that was sidelined in the mid-1970s during the rush to commercialize nuclear power, might be revived due to its significant safety benefits, the article said. Fast reactors help reduce nuclear waste, and high temperature reactors can produce synergistic benefits by providing zero-carbon heat for industrial operations. Some truly new ideas are being explored as well, the article said, like a fission reactor powered by a high-energy particle accelerator with ability to shut down instantly by simply switching the accelerator off.

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