A Canadian Association for the Club of Rome Zoom meeting.
Topic: “Fast-spectrum SMR technology to combat climate change”
Time: Jul 7, 2021 13:30 Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Speaker: Dr. Peter Ottensmeyer
Uranium with its energy-producing nuclear decay over billions of years has been the key element that has made life on Earth possible. With the relatively recent discovery of easy fission, or splitting, of one of the rare isotopes of this element, of U235 at 0.7%, uranium has provided mankind with a huge source of non-carbon energy in current nuclear reactors. The development of fast-spectrum small modular reactors, or even fast-spectrum reactor of larger sizes, now permits the full use as well of the major uranium isotope, of U238, which constitutes 99.3% of natural uranium. The consequent complete utilization and consumption in fast-spectrum reactors of the World’s already mined uranium, both in the form of used nuclear fuel “waste” and of depleted uranium, not only eliminates the existing long-term, million-year concern of highly radioactive fuel “waste” but also provides us with over 100-fold more non-carbon energy and avoids the emission of CO2 equivalent to over 5 times the total CO2 content in the entire atmosphere. Put another way, that already-mined uranium in such fast-spectrum reactors can provide about $ 300,000 of non-carbon electricity for every person on Earth.
Peter Ottensmeyer, BASc (engineering physics, metallurgy), MA (solid state physics), PhD (medical biophysics), former Chair of Medical Biophyscs at the University of Toronto, is currently Professor Emeritus and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His career included physics and engineering aspects of cancer research associated with radiation and radioisotope tracers at the molecular and cellular level. This in part laid the groundwork for his current passionate post-retirement pursuit of the productive elimination of nuclear fuel waste via recycling in fast spectrum reactors, with an urgency enhanced by his favourite role: being a grandfather. He gives lectures and seminars on these subjects both live and on-line, including the recent Nuclear for Everyone Café series of the Canadian Nuclear Society, where he is on Council and also currently Chair of the Education and Communication Committee.