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Power The Almighty Buck

NuScale Power Awarded $226 Million To Deploy Small Nuclear Reactor Design 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the melts-down-in-your-mouth,-not-in-your-hand dept.
New submitter ghack writes "NuScale power, a small nuclear power company in Corvallis Oregon, has won a Department of Energy grant of up to $226 million dollars to enable deployment of their small modular reactor. The units would be factory built in the United States, and their small size enables a number of potential niche applications. NuScale argues that their design includes a number of unique passive safety features: 'NuScale's 45-megawatt reactor, which can be grouped with others to form a utility-scale plant, would sit in a 5 million-gallon pool of water underground. That means it needs no pumps to inject water to cool it in an emergency - an issue ... highlighted by Japan's crippled Fukushima plant.' This was the second of two DOE small modular reactor grants; the first was awarded to Babcock and Wilcox, a stalwart in the nuclear industry."
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NuScale Power Awarded $226 Million To Deploy Small Nuclear Reactor Design

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  • Amazing (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 13, 2013 @02:55PM (#45682781)

    Wish i could see the Koch Brothers Faces when they see this news.

  • Re:Thorium (Score:3, Interesting)

    by weilawei (897823) on Friday December 13, 2013 @03:49PM (#45683425) Homepage
    No. You know why? Because right now, the key stumbling block is not the science--it's the public.
  • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by weilawei (897823) on Friday December 13, 2013 @04:55PM (#45684071) Homepage
    I have a boner for the long-term survival of conscious entities in the universe. You can huddle around the fire (Sol) until it goes out, or you can learn to build fires yourself. You want to save the planet, invest in science, figure out how to mine the rest of the Universe, and get us off this rock. Then you can turn the Earth into your nature preserve.
  • by TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) on Friday December 13, 2013 @05:32PM (#45684391)

    This gets funding, but the LIFTR doesnt? yeah.. seems like a great idea.

    I am not an anonymous coward and I approve this message. It seems like despite the citation of this Thing as an 'answer' to anything useful... the lesson of Fukushima was not universally learned after all.

    That means it needs no pumps to inject water to cool it in an emergency - an issue ... highlighted by Japan's crippled Fukushima plant.'

    All this for 45 megawatts?? And in the case of containment failure you have contaminated five million gallons of water.

    The solution is to surround nuclear energy with less water, not more. None is best. Such as fissile contained in stable salts that, in case of a reactor breach, merely sit there not reacting to water or air or spreading into the environment until they can be cleaned up and recycled.

    The chemistry of LFTR may seem odd and frightening to the proponents of water reactors, but if it takes ~7.5 olympic size swimming pools to thermally stabilize a 45 megawatt reactor, the idea of chaining these to provide utility levels of hundreds of megawatts is, um, just more silly?

    Micro-reactors are being suggested as a means to give little communities a little bit of energy with only a little worry. And there is a small community somewhere who hopes to be given one of these. One would look great in your neighborhood. Then another and another. Pretty soon the combined cost and overhead of little things begins to exceed the cost running wires to fewer, bigger (shared) things. But we are committed to little things now. Little things sneak up on you that way.

    The most likely scenario is that this 'fortunate' community runs aground on the unforgiving shoals of 45 megawatts, cannot afford to grow even past the point where it can afford to maintain even that. And some day it is all forgotten (except the decommission cost) and CAT disels save the day [wordpress.com]. By my logic, which I invite everyone to poke holes in, micro-reactors are a trap because an insufficient ratio of watts/person is a trap.

    I am completely in favor of micro reactors, but honestly believe that micro-solutions should be scaled-down versions of proven and viable mega-solutions, and not pursued with any vigor until the mega-problem is solved.

    In terms of survival this is common sense, it is why some in the medical profession choose to cure diseases rather than individual patients. But there are not enough engineers tackling these 'big' problems.

    Be wary of itty-bitty things that could never scale to become a big-things. Build big things that can become itty-bitty. Because molten salt fissile technology is not explosive on any scale, its minimum size is (theoretically) limited to the mass of its physical containment and the cleverness of our engineering. And our resolve to get it done.

    ___
    Obligatory bump to Thorium Alliance [youtube.com] and my letters on energy,
    To The Honorable James M. Inhofe, United States Senate [scribd.com]
    To whom it may concern, Halliburton Corporate [scribd.com]

  • by Firethorn (177587) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @02:05AM (#45687303) Homepage Journal

    I am completely in favor of micro reactors, but honestly believe that micro-solutions should be scaled-down versions of proven and viable mega-solutions, and not pursued with any vigor until the mega-problem is solved.

    That's the thing, especially in nuclear power things don't necessarily scale up or down well at all. Consider how easily we can 'tune' a nuclear weapon more than an order of magnitude in detonation size merely by controlling the timing of the shaping explosions, minute adjustments in the alignment of the various pieces of the core.

    Take your standard 1 GW 'mega' reactor, it's 22 times the size of the proposed one, which is actually a lot bigger than the Kilowatt/signel digit micro reactors I've read about. To compare it to something that's probably closer to home, that's about the same difference in power between a car and a push-type lawnmower. To expand: It's the difference between an engine that needs an elaborate water-cooling solution and one that is perfectly fine being air cooled.

    I like the idea of micro-reactors as well, though I think that chaining them up isn't the greatest idea. If you're going to make them that small, best to distribute them so they're also useful for things like providing heating to facilities and industrial processes.

    All this for 45 megawatts?? And in the case of containment failure you have contaminated five million gallons of water.

    On the scale of things, the thing to realize is that the 7.5 swimming pools isn't actually all that much, and the plant is small enough that you don't need pumps/elaborate cooling systems to prevent a meltdown. As for the contamination - water is actually 'pretty hard' to make radioactive, one of the reasons we like using it in reactors. Plus, what's the most likely cause of a containment failure? The biggest cause I can think of would be a meltdown, which is a lot harder the smaller your power system - it's a surface area vs internal thing, same with animals. Elephants are nearly hairless and have huge ears to help dissipate heat because they're so large, while meerkats have to have fur and huddle at night to stay warm.

The more cordial the buyer's secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.

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