Reemergence of nuclear power in America’s energy future has renewed interest in fast-neutron reactors which can use nuclear waste in the process of energy production. “On February 16, President Barack Obama announced loan guarantees totaling more than $8 billion for two new light-water reactors in Georgia, part of an initiative to restart the nuclear power industry in the U.S. Just three weeks earlier, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu had announced the formation of a Blue-Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future to resolve what to do with the waste produced by those future reactors—as well as the 2,000 metric tons a year produced by the 104 reactors currently in operation in the U.S. After all, the Obama administration has halted plans to store spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada—a geologic repository that never opened. Such struggles to find a permanent resting place for nuclear waste has prompted some to resurrect an idea that stretches back to the Manhattan Project: so-called fast-neutron reactors that can consume nuclear waste through fission.”
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