A nuclear reactor which can produces more fissile nuclear fuel than it consumes, because the neutrons breed fissile fuels from 238U and 232Th. Breeder reactors were popular until increasing reserves of uranium where found.
The idea [behind this competition] was to innovate--to let your mind flow freely and not to let it get stuck on the Clinch River configuration," notes John Graham, who until last April had been a breeder reactor designer with Westinghouse.
Gibbs believes that in trying to make the breeder reactor attractive to both the public and the electric utilities, "our biggest problem is the capital cost of the plant.
This fact became dramatically clear in 1974, when India used the first plutonium separated for its breeder reactor program to make a 'peaceful nuclear explosion.
Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States have abandoned their breeder reactor development programs.
After six decades and the expenditure of the equivalent of tens of billions of dollars, the promise of breeder reactors remains largely unfulfilled and efforts to commercialize them have been steadily cut back in most countries.
The spent fuel reprocessing plant is a milestone in India's three-stage nuclear programme," he said, adding that it would help in the transition from the first stage to the second (of the programme) for building fast breeder reactors to produce sustainable and clean energy for the country.