Recommendations for on-line reading about breeder reactors?

Michael Shields shields at
Mon Oct 20 22:13:41 PDT 2003

In message <20031020163957.GG15714 at>,
Eugen Leitl <eugen at> wrote:
> On Mon, Oct 20, 2003 at 04:25:47PM +0000, Michael Shields wrote:
>> in at least a low concentration worldwide. Some countries have more,
>> and they do must of the uranium mining for the world, but if necessary
>> it could be extracted from lots of places.
> 20 ppm U/Th in granite is not really what I'd call ore (pitchblende ~4%
> uranium).

Who said anything about granite?

Anyway, here is some more data:

    * Known uranium reserves from conventional sources are slightly
      more than 3 million tonnes
    * Reactor requirements are about 60,000 tonnes per year, expected
      to rise to 75,000 tonnes annually by 2015
    * There is approximately a 40 to 50 years' supply of uranium
      available from conventional sources. (The average life span of a
      nuclear reactor is approximately 40 years).
    * Other sources of uranium include the reprocessing of spent
      reactor fuel to extract plutonium and uranium and the
      utilization of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from military
      sources (which needs to be blended down for use in commercial
      power plants).
    * Existing plans for recycling suggest the replacement of about
      125,000 tonnes of natural uranium up to 2015, with potential for
      greater tonnage.

As with oil and other resources, "conventional sources" means reserves
that are known and could be feasibly and economically mined today.
This will likely increase over time.  For example, as copper demand
has increased sharply in the last few decades, so have our estimates
of available copper in the earth's crust:

> The solar constant is about 1380 W/m^2. Who's crazy enough to go nuclear,
> unless you're in deep space?

Do we have enough silicon to produce photovoltaic cells to power
significant portions of the world?  Estimates of reserves are "not
available" according to the US Geological Survey.

What is the cost of building factories to produce all those PV cells?
Here is a study saying that over the life of a cell, including
manufacturing and disposal, it will contribute more to global warming
than fission.

It's not clear-cut.

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