Mini nuclear plants to power small cities and developing nations

Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb.

The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.

The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. ‘Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world,’ said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. ‘They will cost approximately $25 million each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $250 per home.’

Deal claims to have more than 100 firm orders, largely from the oil and electricity industries, but says the company is also targeting developing countries and isolated communities. ‘It’s leapfrog technology,’ he said.

This is a truly worthwhile technology. I haven’t worked inside nuclear power generation since Hector was a pup; but, the problems of safety and cost never had a damned thing to do with tech in the first place. Aside from questions decided by politicians – like not choosing to build breeder reactors in the USA back in the day – the technology never has been a problem. France has proved that better than most.

I’ll have to track down previous posts on Toshiba’s “neighborhood-size” reactor. Last I recall, they were essentially giving one [and constructing it] to an Aleut community up in the Land of Palin. I’ll check and see how that’s coming.

The crew at Los Alamos know more about this sort of tech than just about anyone on the street. Good to see some of these taxpayer-funded programs making it into something other than death and destruction.

2 thoughts on “Mini nuclear plants to power small cities and developing nations

  1. moss says:

    Come to think of it, I wonder what ever happened to the Russian-built mini-reactor project. I worked on a home – originally an owner-builder project from a staff person up at LANL – where part of the workshop was made of wood from the shipping crate that contained one of the small Russian reactors.

    The Labs bought one to see how folks on the other side of the world were doing it. My client scrounged the wood for himself.

    • Update says:

      “First U.S. Small Nuclear Reactor Design Is Approved “(Scientific American 9/9/20)
      “NuScale’s SMR, developed with the help of almost $300 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, has a generating capacity of 50 megawatts—substantially smaller than standard nuclear reactors, which can range to well more than 1,000 megawatts (MW). A utility could combine up to 12 SMRs at a single site, producing 600 MW of electricity—enough to power a midsize city. The NRC says it expects an application for a 60-MW version of NuScale’s SMR in 2022.
      According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, dozens of SMR designs are under consideration around the world, and several are in “advanced stages of construction” in Argentina, China and Russia.”

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