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Plentiful Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor: The complex history of a simple reactor technology, with emphasis on its scientific bases for non-specialists Paperback – December 6, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 404 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1466384603
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466384606
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. CHARLES E. TILL received his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the Imperial College, University of London, in 1960. Early in his career he worked on a variety of reactor concepts, including the U.K. gas-cooled reactor, the Canadian heavy water reactor and the U.S. light water reactor upon joining Argonne National Laboratory in 1963. There, after a year or two, Dr. Till became been deeply involved in the development of the fast breeder reactor. From 1980 onward, as Associate Laboratory Director for Engineering Research, Till led the large Argonne reactor development program for seventeen of its most innovative and productive years. He created the Integral Fast Reactor concept and spearheaded the development of its underlying technologies. An advanced reactor technology with revolutionary improvements in safety, nuclear waste disposal, and resource usage, this was a major effort involving a thousand to two thousand engineers and supporting staff and carried out over the ten year period from 1984 to 1994 at Argonne’s two sites, its main laboratory in Illinois, and its big reactor facilities on the desert in Idaho. A Fellow of American Nuclear Society and recipient of its Walker Cisler Medal for distinguished contributions to fast reactor development, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1989. Dr. YOON IL CHANG received his Ph.D. in nuclear science from the University of Michigan in 1971. After a short time at Nuclear Assurance Corporation working on nuclear fuel cycle services, he joined Argonne National Laboratory in 1974, hired initially by Till as a reactor analyst. With the initiation of the Integral Fast Reactor program in 1984, as Till’s deputy and as the program’s General Manager, he managed the program through its ten years of development. Bringing all the many parts on IFR program together in a coherent and focused program, it was Chang who saw to its progress day by day, month by month. Upon Till’s retirement in 1998, Dr. Chang succeeded him as Associate Laboratory Director for Engineering Research, and also served as Interim Laboratory Director. The recipient of outstanding alumni awards from the University of Michigan and Seoul National University, a Fellow of American Nuclear Society and recipient of its Walker Cisler Medal, he received the Department of Energy’s Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award in 1994 for his technical leadership role in the IFR development.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Even without reading Plentiful Energy, I can see that it is a book that I will one day want to read.
Henry W. Slangal
This book provides an inside look at the history, technology and political aspects of one of the most important energy technology developments in nuclear power.
JohnFlyer
All in all it is a very readable educational book about a most important chapter in American scientific history.
Peter Ottensmeyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Barry Brook on January 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
The subtitle of Till and Chang's book "Plentiful Energy" is "The complex history of a simple reactor technology, with emphasis on its scientific bases for non-specialists". The key here is that, akin to powered flight, the technology for fully and safely recycling nuclear fuel turns out to be rather simple and elegant, in hindsight, but it was hard to establish this fact - hence the complex history. Like with aviation, there have been many prototype `fast reactors' of various flavors, and all have had problems.

This wonderful book by fast-reactor pioneers Charles Till and Yoon Chang, two of the foundational developers of the IFR during the fabulously productive years of research and development at the Argonne National Laboratory from the 1980s to early 1990s, explains in lucid terms the historical, philosophical and technical basis for truly sustainable nuclear energy. It's quite a story.

Imagine a reactor that passively responds to critical stressors of the kind that befell Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima by shutting down without human operators even needing to intervene. Or one that includes a secure recycling and remote fabrication system that, almost Midas like, is able to turn uranium or even old `nuclear waste' from contemporary reactors into an inexhaustible (and zero-carbon) fuel, as well as simultaneously solving the socio-political problem of long-term disposal.

Reading this book will allow you to understand how this technological wizardry is performed and why other fast reactor options never quite worked out. Moreover, you'll have a much deeper appreciation of the true potential of fission energy in a low-carbon and energy-hungry world - and an insight into what has stopped it reaching its potential, to date.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Peter Ottensmeyer on January 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Plentiful Energy describes, in plain language, the record of an exceptionally efficient nuclear-waste-burning power reactor facility of tomorrow that was built yesterday (1964), was proven, was operated flawlessly for 30 years, and was then shut down by Congress. It is a personal tale by the authors, Charles Till and Yoon Chang, who were instrumental in the scientific success of this nuclear plant at the Argonne National Laboratories in Idaho. Their pride speaks volumes for this American scientific accomplishment and their agony is palpable in their account of the politics that stopped the most important advance in safe nuclear physics and engineering, with safety levels that would have avoided the consequences of Fukushima Daiichi, of Three-Mile-Island and of Chernobyl.

The book, sprinkled copiously with why's and wherefore's and their answers, is intended for the non-specialist and for the non-technical reader. It meets this goal admirably, in that the neophyte will enjoy the very human aspects of the science while wanting to skim over some of the scientific details, whereas the more expert in nuclear matters would want more technical details than are given. The latter can dig into the numerous references. All in all it is a very readable educational book about a most important chapter in American scientific history. Nuclear proponents might well rejoice in the potential outlined and despair in the potential foregone. Antinuclear advocates might want to reconsider their stance in light of the potential of eliminating existing nuclear fuel waste. Politicians may shake their heads at the decisions of their predecessors in light of current nuclear waste policy difficulties. Most of all it is a thought-provoking read.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By weston on May 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Plentiful Energy" by C. E. Till and Y.I. Chang. The story of the integral fast reactor, a technology for closing the nuclear fuel cycle and solving the energy problem for a century, and a story of how not to run a government energy development program, unfortunately ours. The IFR can recycle and fully use its fuel, starting with the transuranics in the spent nuclear fuel sitting around the country, and it is passively safe--two enormous advantages over present nuclear power reactors. This is an inspiring story of a scientific program developed to provide unlimited energy for a century with a passively safe, proliferation-resistant reactor, and a discouraging story of the anti-nukes who managed to embed themselves in democratic administrations and kill the program. Carter, Clinton and now Obama all paid off the anti-nuclear movement, which helped put them in office, with actions that were cheap to them in political capital, but terribly expensive for the future of the country. Till and Chang led the development of the IFR and were at the center of the story they relate.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lindsay on March 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book by two distinguished scientists. What they have written is extremely important to the energy picture for the entire world. Having participated in the develpment of the fast breeder reactor and being involved with almost all the major events described in the book, I can categorically state that Drs. Till and Chang have captured the essence of the importance of the IFR. While there a couple of places where the non-technical person might be left wondering, their questions will be answered as they continue reading. The IFR is really as good as they say!
To ignore the research is to pass up one of the finest solutions to energy needs that we have to date.

Thanks Chuck and Yoon!

Dick
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