Japan Monju Breeder Reactor May Restart in March, DOE Likes Travelling Wave Reactor, And Uranium News

1. The operator of the Monju fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, asked the prefectural government Tuesday to start talks on restarting possibly by the end of March the prototype reactor.

The Monju prototype fast reactor (FBR) in Japan has completed a government-mandated procedure to ensure the reactor is safe to restart following a sodium coolant leak which forced it out of action almost 15 years ago. It could restart as early as next month.

2. The USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) reports that Northern Arizona probably has about 1.3 million tons of undiscovered uranium and in one million acres in the Grand Canyon area has an estimated 163,000 tons (about 326 million pounds) of uranium oxide (U3O8) (12% of Northern Arizona total) The recommendation will likely be to not allow that uranium to be mined.

3. Business Week – Niger’s military junta is “eager” to return the country to civilian rule, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States, said.

Paris-based Areva SA, the world’s largest supplier of reactors, plans to start operating the Imouraren mine in Niger’s northern Agadez region in 2012. The site will produce 5,000 metric tons of uranium annually, doubling the country’s output.

Niger produced about 7 percent of the global uranium supply in 2008 and its share will increase to about 10 percent by 2015

4. NY Times/Climate wire – the DOE is speaking positively about the traveling wave reactor that Terrapower/Intellectual Ventures is researching.

* If it can be built, a commercial version of the reactor is 15 years away or more

“We’ve just been introduced to the idea,” said Warren “Pete” Miller, DOE’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy, who mentioned the project in his comments to last week’s 2010 National Electricity Forum in Washington, D.C. “That’s one innovation that could make a tremendous difference” for nuclear power.

“These are game changers if they can be deployed,” said Miller, a former official at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review magazine chose the traveling wave reactor last year as one of 10 emerging technologies with the highest potential impact


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