INTRODUCTION: Japan has climbed into fifth place in the world atomic reactor tables with the successful trials of its nuclear 'fast breeder'.
INTRODUCTION: Japan has climbed into fifth place in the world atomic reactor tables with the successful trials of its nuclear 'fast breeder'. The reactor, which was built three years ago, passed its final so-called 'criticality' tests on Sunday (24 April).
SYNOPSIS:In nuclear terms, 'criticality' is the stage reached when the reactor produces more plutonium than it consumes. Atomic power relies on plutonium -- but non-fast-breeders need to replenish their stocks, and it's expensive. Fast breeders are self-perpetuating, creating their own stocks as quickly as they use them. The success of Japan's reactor. 100 kilometres (62 miles) north east of Tokyo, comes amid growing international controversy about nuclear power. In his recent energy conservation policy announcement, President Jimmy Carter of the United States halted America's breeder reactor development programme to help stop the spread of nuclear weapons. But the Japanese government says that its reactor programme is strictly for peaceful energy purposes only, and will not be used to make atomic weapons.
Sunday' successful 'criticality' test also comes in the wake of the recently-failed nuclear arms limitation talks between the United States and the Soviet Union. Japan itself already has thirteen conventional atomic power plants of the non-breeding type.