Considerations for Commercializing the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor

EMD-77-5: Published: Nov 29, 1976. Publicly Released: Nov 29, 1976.

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The liquid metal fast breeder reactor (LMFBR) is regarded as an essentially inexhaustible source of energy. A July 1975 Report by GAO and a subsequent statement by the Administrator of the Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA) concurred in the opinion that the LMFBR program is still in a research stage, and that in the mid-1980's, a determination could be made about the acceptability of widespread commercial deployment of LMFBRs. The current status of the LMFBR program is reported, along with a discussion of the technical, financial, scheduling, and institutional factors which must be adequately resolved for successful commercialization.

Successful commercialization of the LMFBR will require not only the development of reactor technology but the supporting technologies of fuel fabrication, plutonium reprocessing, and radioactive waste disposal. The year 1990 may be the earliest by which licensibility and routine performance can be demonstrated for all four required technologies. GAO, in a conservative estimate, feels it is most likely that four to six commercial-size LMFBRs could be in operation by the year 2000 if a decision is made in the mid- to late-1980s to commercialize the LMFBR. Estimated total capital costs would be about $150 billion, measured in 1974 dollars.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: The Administrator of ERDA should: fully develop a management and planning framework which integrates the research, development, and demonstration approach for the four key technologies; review and report annually to Congress the status of the development of all technologies needed for an LMFBR industry; and include in the annual report to Congress the relationship of these technologies to other energy programs in terms of the budgetary cost and other priorities.


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