Most current nuclear reactors are barely more than 5% efficient – thanks to a new breed of sodium-cooled pool reactors, we may soon be able to draw nearly 100 times more energy from nuclear fuels, while slashing their half-lives by two orders of magnitude.
The PRISM reactor (that’s Power Reactor Innovative Small Module, not the NSA’s spy program supreme) is the result of more than 60 years of research by the DoE, Argonne National Lab, and General Electric. Like other existing reactors, the PRISM harnesses the radioactive energy of artificial elements like plutonium to drive turbines which generate electrical current. The PRISM will just do so way, way faster and much more efficiently. Assuming, of course, one ever actually gets built.