January 31, 2023 “Zombie Technology: The Changing Story of the Mythical Fast Reactor” Allison M. Macfarlane

Tuesday, January 31. 5:00 – 6:30 PM (Buchanan Tower 1112)

Allison M. Macfarlane

Director, SPPGA

Zombie Technology: The Changing Story of the Mythical Fast Reactor

Fast breeder reactors, especially sodium-cooled fast breeder reactors, have a seventy-plus year history of support and operation.  Initially, this type of reactor was famously promoted as producing electricity “too cheap to meter” but sodium-cooled fast reactors have not lived up to that promise, barely producing electricity in most instances.  I examine why these reactors continue to receive political and economic support from governments and industry, even though they have proved incapable of matching light water reactors in terms of capacity factor and energy production.  These zombie technologies persist due to a number of factors, including the powerful creation myth that spawned the technology initially.