A Path Forward for the LMFBR

In the mid to later part of the 20th Century, the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor was envisioned by many as the technology that could supply all the nation’s energy needs for the foreseeable future – thousands of years if necessary. The Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor failed in the United States in 1983 because it was considered too expensive. This perception was based on the preliminary design of a demonstration plant, the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Plant that was then in the latter stage of construction permit licensing. The purpose of this monograph is to describe how that happened and to propose a different method that could lead to a more favorable outcome. The design and institutional approach in this paper is one of many that could be devised. It is not intended to be a blueprint. It is only intended to show that it is possible to capitalize on the inherent features of liquid metal and breeder reactor technology in such a way that economic outcomes are achievable. There are undoubtedly many other such approaches.

Figure source: Graevemore


To contact author, email fastbreederrx@gmail.com

The objective of this site is to stimulate action that advances the LMFBR. The site puts forward a design and institutional approach that is straightforward and promising enough to be a basis for further action. All comments are welcomed. Constructive criticism is welcomed. The author will modify the site to correct areas that have been identified and substantiated as being erroneous or which could be improved upon and will give attribution to the originator (with the originator’s permission) of any such comments. Any analyses that are performed to support or propose alternatives to the core design or any other feature of the “design approach” would be most welcomed.

Clark Gibbs is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who served on nuclear submarines, then obtained a Ph.D. in nuclear science and engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He spent his career in managerial positions divided between electric utility companies, EPRI, industry, and the Department of Energy, which included 16 years of assignments in LMFBR development.

2 thoughts on “Home

  1. This is great! Thanks for putting up this site.
    As a nuclear historian, I can’t help but shake my head in dismay that the CRBR site is now being put forward as a location for GE-Hitachi’s BWRX-300. To have an technologically archaic, grossly inefficient (both in terms of thermal efficiency and fuel usage) light water reactor being installed 45+ years after a far more advanced and efficient design was cancelled while under construction on the very spot strikes me as a sad commentary on the absolute, unequivocal failure of the US to move beyond LWR’s.

    Why are the Terrapower Natrium or Xe-100 not being considered for the site? Let’s not step backwards, people. The adage that “any nuclear plant is good nuclear plant” has outlived its relevance.


  2. Is anyone considering shrinking a nuclear breeder reactor for feeding a Cassini size thrust reactor for as close to continuously as possible for near unlimited propulsion for space craft. Both long distance and near light speed travel would be possible, particularly for robots and artificial intelligence. And since beyond the Van Allen radiation belt, cosmic radiation is much stronger and much worse than any human nuclear reactor; long distance space travel using breeder nuclear reactors as a power source should be doable.

    Response: Although the author’s interest and experience is chiefly with land-based applications, high power density is achievable in any liquid metal cooled reactor, so they may be suitable for space applications. On the question of whether small sizes are feasible, the first LMFBR, EBR-1, completed in 1951, had a core about the size of a trash can. Nuclear space applications date back to the 1960s and include the SNAP reactors (one of which was launched and remains in space) and the NERVA reactor that was ground tested and once considered for propulsion.


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