Argonne Reactor Program Turns To The East

Faced with dwindling U.S. interest in nuclear power research, Argonne National Lab has turned to Japan to save its reactor research program. In July the lab reached an agreement with the Japanese electric industry that will see $20 million over five years poured into a lab program on “pyrometallurgical” fuel reprocessing. The technique separates radioactive elements from used fuel for recasting into new fuel, thereby allowing the reactor to bum its own waste. But the process is at least a decade away from commercial application, says Argonne project manager Yoon Chang, and the listless U.S. nuclear industry is “not looking at long-term energy policy.” The Japanese involvement comes as Congress threatens to cut funding for Argonne’s entire Integral Fast Reactor program to as little as a third of the $30 million the Department of Energy requested in its 1990 budget.

“Without the Japanese...

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