STAR in the making

3 June 2002

A project that is now receiving US federal funding is the Secure Transportable Autonomous Reactor for Hydrogen production - STAR-H2. It is a lead-cooled fast-neutron 400MWt reactor which has passive safety features. Because of its small size, it can be transported by rail, as well as allowing for it to be cooled by natural circulation.

It uses U-transuranic nitride fuel in a cassette which is replaced every 15 years. The reactor heat at 780°C is conveyed by a helium circuit to drive a separate thermo-chemical hydrogen production plant, while lower grade heat is harnessed for desalination. Any commercial electricity generation would be by fuel cells, using the hydrogen.

Regional fuel cycle support centres would handle fuel supply and reprocessing, the fresh fuel being spiked with fission products to prevent misuse. Complete burnup of uranium and transuranics is envisaged, with only fission products as waste.

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