Answer / jahnavi
The Integral Fast Reactor was an advanced nuclear reactor
and complete nuclear fuel cycle technology development
program. The goal of the IFR program has been to provide a
proven advanced nuclear technology capable of overcoming
the major technical issues confronting today's generation
of nuclear power plants. However, the principal features of
IFR technology have proven remarkabley adaptable to solving
other problems of nuclear waste and weapons plutonium
The heart of an IFR power plant is a liquid-sodium-cooled
reactor loaded with a new type of metal-alloy fuel. A new
recycle technology called pyroprocessing is used to close
the fuel cycle by separating the unused fuel from most of
the radioactive waste. New fuel rods are fabricated by an
inexpensive metal casting process.
Improved assurance of reactor safety was a major objective
of the IFR program. Compared to today's reactors, safety of
the IFR takes more advantage of the natural characteristics
of the materials and the system design, and depends much
less on proper mechanical and electric functioning of
complex engineered systems or operator actions. This was
demonstrated in EBR-II (Argonne's small prototype of the
IFR) in 1986. In these tests, conditions were created that
would be expected to lead to severe core melt-down in most
types of reactors. EBR-II simply shut itself down without
the operation of any active safey systems, without operator
intervention, and without damage of any kind.
Improved management of high-level nuclear waste was another
important goal of IFR technology development. The
pyroprocess naturally keeps the most toxic long-lived
radioactive materials (the transuranics) locked up in the
recycled fuel material, where ultimately they are
beneficially destroyed to produce electricity. The IFR
process reduces the volume, heat generation, and longevity
of nuclear wastes, making deeply buried high-level nuclear
waste as benign as uranium ore within a few hundred years.
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