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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2014

Anthony M. Judd
Affiliation:
United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
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Summary

Chain Reactions

Early in 1939 Meitner and Frisch suggested that the correct interpretation of the results observed when uranium is bombarded with neutrons is that the uranium nuclei undergo fission. Within a few months two very important things became clear: that fission releases a large amount of energy, and that fission of a nucleus by one neutron liberates usually two or three new neutrons. These discoveries immediately disclosed the possibility of a chain reaction that would produce power.

There was a difficulty, however, in making a chain reaction work. Natural uranium consists of two isotopes: 235U (with an abundance of 0.7%) and 238U (99.3%). Of the two only 235U is “fissile”, meaning that fission can be induced in it by neutrons of any energy. On the other hand 238U undergoes fission only if the neutrons have an energy greater than about 1.5 MeV, and even then they are more likely to be captured or scattered inelastically.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2014

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References

Chang, Y. I. and Till, C. E. (2011) Plentiful Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor, CreateSpace online publishersGoogle Scholar
Forrest, J. S. (Ed.) (1977) The Breeder Reactor, Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh
IAEA (2013) Status of Fast Reactor Research and Technology Development Technical Report TECDOC-1691, International Atomic Energy Agency, ViennaGoogle Scholar
IWGFR (1985) Status of Liquid Metal Cooled Fast Breeder Reactors Technical Report 246, International Atomic Energy Agency, ViennaGoogle Scholar
IWGFR (1999) Status of Liquid Metal Cooled Fast Reactor Technology Technical Report TECDOC-1083, International Atomic Energy Agency, ViennaGoogle Scholar
IWGFR (2007) Liquid Metal Cooled Reactors: Experience in Design and Operation Technical Report TECDOC-1569, International Atomic Energy Agency, ViennaGoogle Scholar
Judd, A. M. (1981) Fast Breeder Reactors: An Engineering Introduction, Pergamon, OxfordGoogle Scholar
Judd, A. M. (1983) Fast Reactors, pp 297–333 in Marshall, W. (Ed.) Nuclear Power Technology, Volume 1: Reactor Technology, Clarendon, OxfordGoogle Scholar
Sweet, C. (Ed.) (1980) The Fast Breeder Reactor: Need? Cost? Risk?, Macmillan, LondonCrossRef
Waltar, A. E. and Reynolds, A. B. (1981) Fast Breeder Reactors, Pergamon, New YorkGoogle Scholar
Waltar, A. E., Todd, D. R. and Tsvetkov, P. V. (2012) Fast Spectrum Reactors, Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar

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  • Introduction
  • Anthony M. Judd, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
  • Book: An Introduction to the Engineering of Fast Nuclear Reactors
  • Online publication: 05 February 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540858.002
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  • Introduction
  • Anthony M. Judd, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
  • Book: An Introduction to the Engineering of Fast Nuclear Reactors
  • Online publication: 05 February 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540858.002
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Anthony M. Judd, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority
  • Book: An Introduction to the Engineering of Fast Nuclear Reactors
  • Online publication: 05 February 2014
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139540858.002
Available formats
×