Radio National’s Ockham’s Razor

Well before the surprise announcement of a Royal Commission into the further opportunities for South Australia – with its substantial uranium reserves – in the nucelar fuel cycle; before strident calls for federal legislation to “get out of the way” of such potential; before foreign minister Julie Bishop’s bold call for consideration of nuclear in the climate change conversation… I recorded a segment for Ockham’s Razor on ABC Radio National. It will be aired this Sunday, but it is available at the program website.

PRISM (model by Midwest Studios)

The idea of accepting and storing recyclable nuclear fuel here in South Australia in a Spent Fuel Bank, and directing the proceeds to establishment of the power reactor technology with which to annihilate the long-lived material while producing emissions-free electricity is Ben Heard’s idea. Much thanks to him for considerable feedback and encouragement. Thanks also to the production crew who were just awesome to work with, and Robyn Williams for his words of support for this continuing discussion.

Sodium-cooled fast reactors don’t come flat-packed. This is what we could call aggressive decarbonisation. The idea is quite optimistic about many aspects of deploying modern nuclear technology, especially in a country that has so far banned it. Well, I like optimism. I like electricity which potentially emits close to zero emissions over its life cycle.


<1 gCO2eq/kWh. Compare other technologies.

I like fundamental infrastructure which can work for half a century or more. I like keeping all our tools in the chest, and using them for their designed purpose. I like to stay informed by the science, while staying away from the stale rhetoric, which our opposition is kicking into overdrive, rather than rethinking. I like energy, whether its from clean sources or from the professionals I meet who see a bright, empowered future.

I hope you like it.



2 thoughts on “Radio National’s Ockham’s Razor

  1. Robin WIlliams has been a great help though he sounds a bit frail in the audio. Logically the first customer for a PRISM should be the UK. If SA became Australia’s nuclear hub (with beefed up transmission east and west) then a PRISM should be part of the ensemble. I’d start with a Candu/AFCR that can eventually use some downstream wastes, then get one or more SMRs (eg for west coast desal) then a PRISM. That’s after two or more Gen 3 reactors are running with a fuel processing facility. I’m not sure about encouraging the use of foreign waste to run a PRISM perhaps test the waters first.

    • All very good points and ideas, John. I too like the looks and economics of AFCR. Ontario would be a good partner; the reactor has proven safety, ramping capabilities, versatility and extensive refurbishment experience on top of its official 60 year design life. All good things to keep the discussion going.

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