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Next-generation reactors offer promise
There are a number of alternative nuclear reactor concepts that are the next generation, and all have advantages in safety, economy and size (“Nuclear: A better way? Here’s why,” June 8). As commentary writer Craig Bowron notes, they are all better than pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, even from natural gas. New plants now under construction will be able go for long periods of time without active cooling (as when operating normally) because they have newly designed passive cooling systems that permit sudden shutdown — without the kinds of situations that arose in Fukushima. Another attractive reactor system uses thorium-based fuel in a molten salt integrated reactor. Nuclear has a proven record — an average of 90 percent of full power generation every year; wind operates at 30 percent, and solar even lower. The integral fast reactor cited in the commentary is an interesting concept, but not ready for prime time. Right now, we need to evolve into new reactor systems and build today’s best advanced designs.
WAYNE C. WOLSEY, St. Paul
The writer is a professor emeritus in chemistry at Macalester College.
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I like the way the article sounds, nuclear energy with only 5 percent of the uranium from the fuel rod burned. This is reminiscent of all the promises made about affordable energy, coal, natural gas and ethanol, to name a few. I’m not sure we can believe anyone and their science if they stand to make money from energy.
DIANNE CORDER, Eden Prairie
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.