Design for Values in Nuclear Technology

Reference work entry


Safety has always been an important criterion for designing nuclear reactors, but in addition to safety, there are at least four other values that play a key role, namely, security (i.e., sabotage and proliferation), sustainability (i.e., environmental impacts, energy resource availability), economic viability (i.e., embarking on new technology and its continuation), as well as intergenerational justice (i.e., what we leave behind for future generations). This chapter reviews the evolution of generations of nuclear reactors (I, II, III, III, and IV) in terms of these values. We argue that the Best Achievable Nuclear Reactor would maximally satisfy all these criteria, but the safest reactor is not always the most sustainable one, while the reactor that best guarantees resource durability could easily compromise safety and security. Since we cannot meet all these criteria simultaneously, choices and trade-offs need to be made. We highlight these choices by discussing three promising future reactor types, namely, the high-temperature reactor pebble-bed module (HTR-PM), the molten salt-cooled reactor (MSR) and the gas-cooled fast reactor (GFR).


Safety Sustainability Security Economic viability Intergenerational justice 



The authors wish to thank Ibo van de Poel as well as Daniela Hanea for their valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyFaculty of Technology, Policy and Management, TU DelftDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Belfer Center for Science and International AffairsJohn F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Radiation Science and Technology (RST)Faculty of Applied SciencesTU DelftThe Netherlands

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