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Fast Breeder Reactors in Sweden: Vision and Reality


The fast breeder is a type of nuclear reactor that aroused much attention in the 1950s and ‘60s. Its ability to produce more nuclear fuel than it consumes offered promises of cheap and reliable energy. Sweden had advanced plans for a nuclear breeder program, but canceled them in the middle of the 1970s with the rise of nuclear skepticism. The article investigates the nuclear breeder as a technological vision. The nuclear breeder reactor is an example of a technological future that did not meet its industrial expectations. But that does not change the fact that the breeder was an influential technology. Decisions about the contemporary reactors were taken with the idea that in a foreseeable future they would be replaced with the efficient breeder. The article argues that general themes in the history of the breeder reactor can deepen our understanding of the mechanisms behind technological change.