A nuclear reactor and method for generating energy from fertile and fissile nuclear fuel material. The reactor may comprise a pressure vessel for housing a nuclear reactor core, the vessel having a lower vessel with an upwardly facing opening and a vessel closure head having a sealable access port. The vessel closure head may be positionable in differing positions relative to the lower vessel so that differing portions of the interior of the pressure vessel may be accessed through the access port. The lower vessel may include penetrations for lateral insertion of one or more reactor control blades into the interior of the lower vessel. The reactor core may comprise an inner driver region having substantially fissile nuclear fuel material, a breeder region substantially surrounding the driver region and having substantially fertile nuclear fuel material, a moderator substantially surrounding the breeder region, and a distal burner region having substantially fissile nuclear fuel material with higher fission product concentration than the driver region and being adaptable to receive neutrons from the driver and breeder regions. Generated heat from nuclear fuel in the reactor core may be removed by a gaseous coolant whereby the heated coolant is utilized to maintain the temperature of the moderator.
Thorium Reactor with rods schematic