Nuclear power for the twenty-first century
Improved nuclear reactor configurations that address major concerns of environmentalists and safety analysts are discussed. In addition to social acceptance, these new modes of power generation have economic potential to become the dominant producers of energy in the twenty-first century. The class of power generation with this promise is the high temperature gas reactor (HTGR); the variant we focus on is the pebble-bed modular reactor (PBMR). We also focus on using nuclear power as an energy source for desalinating seawater. Finally, the case is made that HTGR reactors are ideal for supplying the high-temperature heat needed for manufacturing molecular hydrogen, a leading candidate for clean fuel consumption. These three themes are developed in a broad context with the objective of recommending policy actions dealing with global warming, public health, and economic opportunity.