by Llewellyn King at forbes.com

If you want to design a car, there are certain constants like four wheels. And for a car, you can draw on millions of design hours that are readily accessible, and trillions of years of operating experience.

If you want to design a nuclear reactor, there are almost no limitations. In fact, there are a mind-boggling number of design possibilities.

Hundreds of reactor designs have made it onto paper and the constants are few. You’ll need a fissile fuel, or a fertile fuel element with a fissile trigger, but otherwise there are no limits. Not all that is known about reactor design is accessible because it is either proprietary or classified.

The reactor fuel, the moderator, the size, the operating characteristics are all wide-open choices. More: For each reactor type, there are huge variations. Choosing an optimum design going forward is the challenge.

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