There's plenty of uranium in the world to power a massive increase in new, efficient nuclear reactors of the traditional type, says a new report out today. That supply gives the United States sufficient time to study new types of reactors that could reduce the need for long-term storage of nuclear waste by burning up more of their fuel.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which published the study, says that "it would be a mistake to exclude" nuclear power from the energy mix of the future. Study co-chair Charles Forsberg, an MIT nuclear scientist, says the report tries to spell out the steps the United States should take to triple domestic use of nuclear energy, to an output of more than 1 gigawatt. If the United States expands research into the topic to "preserve our options" to build more advanced types of reactors in the coming days, that could help achieve that target. (President Barack Obama proposed a $40 million increase for nuclear energy research in February.) The report dismisses concerns by some scientists about shortages of uranium fuel and backs an expanded federal research effort on those advanced reactors.