Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Green Shoots in Autumn: Small Reactors on the Ascent

If you’re passing through the mid-Atlantic the first part of October to see the magnificent foliage points west and north you may consider dropping by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission complex in world-famous Rockville, Maryland, Thursday & Friday, October 8-9, for what promises to be a fascinating Workshop on potential applications for small- and medium-sized (a.k.a. modular, innovative, green) nuclear reactors.

NRC’s announcement quotes its Advanced Reactor Program director Mike Mayfield:

We’re going to examine how these ‘small’ reactor vendors would need to address the NRC’s requirements in areas including safety, security, decommissioning and emergency preparedness. This meeting will help us and our stakeholders determine what issues need more clarification and get everyone’s expectations on the same page.
The NRC invites the public to participate throughout the workshop, which also will cover applications other than producing electricity, such as providing heat for industrial processes.

We realize you have a choice of vacation destinations this fall, so if you can’t make it in person, a “teleconference line and Webinar will be available [to] view workshop presentations online as well as take part in discussions.”

Before tuning in or showing up, some background on these adorable machines is available from, inter alia, Atomic Insights’ excellent overview published today, Dan Yurman’s recent articles, Right-Size Reactors Fuel Vision of New ANS President and What’s a Small Reactor Like You Doing in a Market Like This?, and as always, we recommend Charles Barton’s unassailable reportage, Greens, Small Reactors.

Small/Medium/Modular/Advanced/Right-Size/Innovative/Simple reactor designers and manufacturers participating in the Workshop will likely include Hyperion, PBMR, NuScale, Westinghouse, Babcock & Wilcox, and GE Hitachi.

Not to be outdone, within a week of NRC’s announcement from White Flint, US-DOE said, through its official Richard Black, that it will seek funding in the 2011 fiscal year to support advanced, small-scale power reactors.

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