Nuclear Seminar Series: Gen IV Nuclear Fission Systems

20 March 2019, 5.30 PM - 26 February 2019, 7.00 PM

Professor James Marrow, University of Oxford

1.15 Small Lecture Theatre, Queen's Building, University of Bristol

In the general context of increasing world energy demands and climate change, there is increasing pressure to develop sustainable energy technologies.  Nuclear energy can contribute to this, but although light water reactor (LWR) nuclear fission is broadly considered a low-carbon energy technology, there is a need to develop breakthrough technologies now in order to prepare for the longer-term future of nuclear power.

In particular, fast neutron reactors with closed fuel cycles, of which there are several design concepts, offer the potential to reduce the levels of high level waste and also contribute to the more efficient use of uranium resources, which may be put under pressure by an expansion of the LWR fleet.  Certain fast reactor concepts also have process heat applications, which may support economical hydrogen or synthetic hydrocarbon fuel production and there are also innovative systems such as the thorium fuelled molten salt and accelerator driven reactors (for transmutation of waste).

This broad class of next generation nuclear fission plant concepts are generally referred to as “Generation IV” systems or concepts. The foreseen operating conditions of the Generation IV concepts will place significant demands on their structural materials.  These demands are far more stringent than those for existing nuclear plant, and there will be a requirement for design lives in excess of 60 years.  The talk will focus on some of the key challenges in the forerunner designs.


Speaker: Professor James Marrow, the James Martin Professor of Energy Materials at the University of Oxford. Professor Marrow is a member of the Bristol-Oxford Nuclear Research Centre.

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