Saturday, 10 March 2012

US DOE makes a commitment for advancing Small Modular Reactors

US DOE makes a commitment for advancing Small Modular Reactors: ... also see: : "SMR’s have been a hot topic in the nuclear industry for a while now and were developed to solve three large issues that face the industry as it stands today. The first is cost. With a new, large-scale plant costing somewhere in the six to eight billion dollar range, power companies are having a tough time finding the financing to pay for them. A large part of the construction cost comes from building and certifying the reactor. In contrast, SMRs could be built and certified in a factory and shipped to the actual power plant site, greatly reducing the costs involved. Also, since SMRs are smaller than their larger brothers, they are much cheaper, meaning smaller power companies will be able to bring the capital together to build them. The second issue is refueling. Refueling a large reactor takes a great deal of time, during which electricity is not being provided to the public. Nuclear fuel has to be transported to the site, the reactor has to be disassembled, and the fuel swapped out. Then the old fuel has to be stored somewhere. SMRs deal with this problem by being a total-package deal. The reactor is shipped to the site, and once it runs out of juice, the reactor is shipped back. No on-site refueling, no interruption of power production (as long as you got your new reactor in before you ship the old one back), and no on-site storage of spent nuclear fuel. The third issue is size. Nuclear power plants up till now have been big, base load providing, power plants. These days the DOE is moving toward a distributed approach to energy, meaning lots of smaller power plants spread out along the grid, and SMRs are the nuclear industry’s answer to that approach. Beyond just their application in the power industry though, SMRs could also be used to provide process heat for industrial applications, such as hydrogen production.
Up till now though SMRs have been a nice thought, with some Autocad drawings and a few calculations done, but they remain untested. With access to a test facility, the three companies named above will be building their designs for actual use. Hopefully through testing they’ll discover that the SMR concept is still feasible and doable, while still solving the cost and refueling issues of the past."

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