Within the U.S. national laboratory complex, future-thinking scientists recognized some decades ago that realizing the full potential of nuclear power would require technology advancement.

It started around 1984 when a group of physicists and engineers at Argonne National Laboratory in the United States embarked upon an ambitious energy research project – the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) program. Their goal was to mitigate the premier concerns associated with nuclear power: waste, economics, proliferation, fuel supply, and improved safety to lead a transformation to a new, safer, and more secure approach to nuclear energy. For the next 10 years, a virtual army of scientists and engineers labored at the task, and they succeeded spectacularly.

The pivotal technology that we’re talking about is the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR), which was developed in a government-sponsored program called the Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor, or ALMR. The ALMR program was unique in that it involved U.S.-owned companies – General Electric, Westinghouse (now majority owned by Japan’s Toshiba), Bechtel, Burns and Roe, Raytheon, Babcock and Wilcox, Borg Warner, and Foster Wheeler – working with the national laboratories to come up with an advanced nuclear reactor design.

PRISM is the commercial incarnation of this revolutionary technology.

A fourth generation reactor designed by GEH, PRISM incorporates the groundbreaking features of the Argonne Laboratory’s project, representing a technological leap that could power the UK or similar countries for hundreds of years with used nuclear fuel that is already on hand.