Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 February 2014
Safety and Design
The designer of a fast reactor, just like the designer of any other engineering enterprise, has to take into account what might happen if something goes wrong. He or she has to make sure that whatever happens the risk of injury – either to the operating staff or the general public – or of damage to property, is very slight.
There are basically two ways of making a reactor safe. First the overall design concept is chosen so that it is inherently safe. That is to say that for a number of possible accidents the design is such that the reactor behaves safely and damage does not spread even if no protective action, automatic or deliberate, is taken. But it is not possible to guard against all accidents in this way, however well the overall design is chosen. The second way to make the reactor safe is to incorporate protective systems. These are devices designed specifically to prevent the damaging consequences of accidents. A protective system can be active, such as an automatic shutdown system, or passive, such as a containment barrier.