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A breeder reactor is a nuclear reactor capable of generating more fissile material than it consumes [ 1 ] because its neutron economy is high enough to breed fissile fuel from fertile material like uranium-238 or thorium-232 . Breeders were at first considered attractive because of their superior fuel economy compared to light water reactors .
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An old idea in nuclear power gets reexamined
The American Physical Society forum on Physics and Society has just published its quarterly newsletter, containing two articles about nuclear power, including one by Robert Hargraves and Ralph Moir, Liquid Fuel Nuclear Reactors . Today’s familiar pressurized water nuclear reactors use solid fuel — pellets of uranium dioxide in zirconium fuel rods bundled into fuel assemblies. These assemblies are placed within the reactor vessel under water at 160 atmospheres pressure and a temperature of 330°C.
Molten salt reactor scheme.
The thorium fuel cycle is a nuclear fuel cycle that uses the naturally abundant isotope of thorium , 232 Th , as the fertile material .