Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor” by Charles E. Till and Yoon
Chang gives the history of the IFR at
Argonne. The book is available on Amazon.com…
More about the book
About the authors:
Dr. Charles E. Till, Emeritus Member — National Academy of Engineering (NAE) website
Dr. Yoon Il Chang, Argonne Distinguished Fellow
Integral Fast Reactor
The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) is a revolutionary reactor design concept developed at Argonne
National Laboratory. The IFR is a
reactor fueled by metal alloy and cooled by liquid sodium. On
April 3, 1986, two tests demonstrated the inherent safety of the IFR concept. These tests
simulated accidents involving loss of coolant flow. Even with its normal shutdown devices disabled,
the reactor shut itself down safely without overheating anywhere in the system.
The information about the IFR included in this page is reprinted with permission from the book “Plentiful Energy: The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor” by Charles E. Till and Yoon Chang, CreateSpace, ISBN 1-4663-8460-3 (2011).
Integral Fast Reactor
The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) is a fast reactor system developed at Argonne National Laboratory
in the decade 1984 to 1994. The IFR
project developed the technology for a complete system; the reactor, the entire fuel cycle,
and the waste management technologies were all included in the development program. The reactor
concept had important features and characteristics that were completely new and fuel cycle and
waste management technologies that were entirely new developments. The reactor is a “fast” reactor – that
is, the chain reaction is maintained by “fast” neutrons with high energy – which
produces its own fuel. The IFR reactor
and associated fuel cycle is a closed system. Electrical power is generated, new fissile fuel
is produced to replace the fuel burned, its used fuel is processed for recycling by pyroprocessing – a
new development – and waste is put
in its final form for disposal. All this is done on one self-sufficient site.
The IFR’s history is embedded in the history of nuclear power in the United States – in its ups and downs, and in the plusses and minuses of nuclear technology itself. Its story starts sixty years ago with the first reactor that ever produced useful electrical power. IFR development began in 1984 with the “advanced reactor development program” that was carried out for a decade at Argonne. Although the program was nearly complete in 1994, US President Bill Clinton announced in his State of the Union address that year that, ‘We are eliminating programs that are no longer needed, such as nuclear power research and development’, and the IFR, as the nation’s principal such program, was cancelled. But it continues at a low level in studies and programs of the US Department of Energy and in programs around the world today, due to its ability to provide a truly inexhaustible energy technology for entire nations.
Learn more about the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR)
More information on the Integral
Fast Reactor (IFR) can
be found in the compiled list of links and multimedia features below. If you still have
unanswered questions about the IFR,
send them to
. We’ll be sure to pose them to our researchers, and we’ll respond to you personally.
For more information on the IFR:
- New book tells history of Integral Fast Reactor — NE Highlights (Jan. 13, 2012)
- Passively safe reactors rely on nature to keep them cool — Reprinted from Argonne Logos - (Winter 2002 -- vol. 20, no. 1)
What is the IFR?, by George S. Stanford, Ph.D. (May 2013) [210KB]
- Science Council for Global Initiatives — An international nonprofit organization dedicated to informing the public and policymakers about technologies and strategies that can lead to an energy-rich world.
Papers on the IFR available at the DOE Energy Citations Database:
- The Integral Fast Reactor — by Y.I. Chang, CONF-8810155-28, (1988)
- Integral fast reactor concept: Physics of operation and safety — by D.C. Wade and Y.I. Chang, 6151427, (1988)
- For a more extensive list of papers on the IFR go to DOE Energy Citations Database Search and search for 'integral fast reactor' (using brackets)
For more information on pyroprocessing:
- Argonne’s pyroprocessing and advanced reactor research featured on WGN radio —NE Highlights (Jul. 23, 2012)
The IFR in the Popular Media:
- The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) concept
Historical video about the Integral Fast Reactor concept from Argonne National Laboratory.
Watch the video on YouTube (posted on Mar. 3, 2014)
- Visualizing Coolant Flow in Sodium Reactor Subassemblies
Visualization of a Nek5000 simulation.
Watch the video on YouTube (posted by Argonne on Oct. 13, 2010)
- Panel Discussion: The Future of Nuclear Power
Argonne Distinguished Fellow Dr. Yoon Il Chang participated in a panel discussion on the future of nuclear power at Columbia University on Nov. 8, 2013. Video credits: CGEP, Columbia University
- History of the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR)
A one-hour TV show on the history of nuclear energy in the US, Argonne's role, and the IFR. Re-posted on Vimeo with permission by Steve Kirsch
Watch the video on Vimeo (posted by S. Kirsch on Oct. 29, 2011)
- History of the Integral Fast Reactor
— A 10 minutes version of the TV show on the history of nuclear energy in the US, Argonne's role, and the IFR.
Watch the video on YouTube (posted by Daniel Krasnodar on Oct. 5, 2010)
PBS Interview with Charles E. Till — transcript of an interview done for the show "Why do Americans Fear Nuclear Power?" from PBS Frontline
“Pandora’s Promise” the Movie
Watch the official trailer of the documentary by Robert Stone that premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2013 and opened in U.S. movie theaters June 2013 (Screenings list — from “Pandora’s Promise” website).
- About Nuclear Energy
- Argonne’s Nuclear Energy Discovery Center highlights our pioneering role in developing peaceful uses of nuclear technology used by major nuclear power plants throughout the world. For more information, call (630) 252-5562 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
- History of Argonne Reactor Operations [2.2MB]
- Nuclear Energy FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) [183KB]
- NOVA episode: The Nuclear Option: How will we power the planet without wrecking the climate? Aired January 11, 2017 on PBS
Last Modified: Wed, June 1, 2016 10:02 AM