Efficient fission

Online Editor

Götz Ruprecht explains why nuclear fission is our best option for displacing fossil fuels

The general consensus is that a modern energy supply must be low-emission, reliable and inexpensive. However, opinions differ on how to achieve this goal. In Germany, an experiment worth hundreds of billions and unique in the world has been underway for two decades, the “Energiewende”. The money has flowed primarily into wind and solar power. At the same time, Germany gave up baseload-providing, inexpensive nuclear power from 14 nuclear power plants that were prematurely shut down over the course of a decade.

The sobering result is that emissions have fallen only slightly, while electricity has become expensive and the grid unstable. Since gas stopped flowing from Russia to secure Germany’s fragile energy supply, an acute energy crisis has erupted. The experiment has obviously failed.

Leaving ideology aside, all the arguments are in favour of nuclear power: it is as low-emission as wind power and as reliable as coal. It is one of the safest energy sources of all, even when major accidents are taken into account. It consumes little land and raw materials with the smallest amounts of waste, which – contrary to the prevailing narrative – are easily manageable. Today, after years of stagnation, increasing numbers of countries are deciding to either expand nuclear power or enter into it for the first time.

The potential of fission goes far beyond light water reactors

As proven and widespread as light-water reactors are today, they nevertheless have a decisive disadvantage: the monumental plants can only turn a tiny fraction of the extensively extracted natural uranium into electricity. In other words, they are not very efficient.

With the goal of making the most of nuclear fuel, Dual Fluid is developing a new, more efficient way of fission. Instead of fuel rods, the company uses two fluids in the reactor core: one carries the fuel, the other dissipates the heat. Thanks to this patented design, the liquid fuel, an undiluted metallic actinide mixture, can develop its full power at 1000°C. The reactor is cooled by liquid lead, which optimally dissipates the heat without slowing down the neutrons in the reactor core.

Unlike nuclear fusion, Dual Fluid technology is in principle feasible with today’s technology. Even though the media regularly report breakthroughs in fusion, it is still decades away from a marketable, because economical, application. The tools that make fusion possible in the first place (the most powerful lasers or field-generating magnets) themselves consume orders of magnitude more energy than has been released in fusion processes to date. In nuclear fission, on the other hand, the fundamental issues have been resolved for decades. The only thing left to do here is to get the maximum out of it – that is the task Dual Fluid has set itself.

What can be expected from Dual Fluid technology?

Thanks to its new operating principle, a Dual Fluid reactor could generate about 10 times more energy from the same amount of fuel than a light water reactor. If future power plants were to provide 10 times more energy than today’s, an enormous surge in productivity and innovation would follow: living standards could improve in ways unimaginable today. At the same time, nature would regain space. Dual Fluid is convinced that the age of nuclear fission has only just begun.

Götz Ruprecht is CEO of Dual Fluid

Recent Issues