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Monograph | Nuclear energy | Nuclear reactors | 4th generation reactors

PublicationSodium-Cooled Nuclear Reactors

Nuclear energy monograph – Parution : 2016

​The first nuclear reactor that generated electric power, in 1951, was a liquid metal-cooled fast neutron reactor. In the following years nineteen fast neutron reactors using sodium as coolant were constructed, first as research nuclear reactors, and then as power reactors. This monograph describes that history as well as the operating experience feedback gained with those reactors, among which the three French reactors RAPSODIE, PHÉNIX and SUPERPHÉNIX: design, materials, measurements, instrumentation, in-service inspection, components, operating experience reviews, etc. The design principles of this reactor type are also detailed, highlighting their significant potential assets: the ability to burn all of the uranium fed to it, which would ensure world power supply for thousands of years; the ability to recycle all of the plutonium and uranium arising from the spent fuel treatment, thereby closing the cycle, which would minimize ultimate waste.

This Monograph reviews the status of these developments in 2013. The deployment of this promising technology is slowed down, especially due to overcost in constructing these reactors in contrast with the water reactor type. The perspectives of this deployment are analysed in a technical-economic chapter, in relation to the uranium resource evolution.


  • Introduction
  • Why Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactors ?
  • Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactor Design
  • SFR History and Operating Experience Review
  • Safety and Environment
  • SFR Technology
  • Fast Neutron Reactor Fuel Cycle
  • Projects for the Future
  • Conclusion

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