Skip to main content

Scaling Up by Scaling Down in Washington

Shorebirds in Flight at Grays Harbor NWR Energy Northwest has a taker.

[T]he Grays Harbor Public Utility District is considering pitching in $25,000 to get in on the ground floor of a new statewide effort to build five to eight small-scale nuclear power plants, according to The Daily World of Aberdeen.  The push is being spearheaded by Energy Northwest, a group of 22 public utility districts and five municipalities.

We first talked about Energy Northwest’s movement toward nuclear, and its interest in small units, on June 3. At that time, this was the news:

In a May 27 letter obtained by The Associated Press, the [Energy Northwest] consortium asked each of its 25 member public utilities and municipalities to pitch in $25,000 for further research into building one or more small reactors. Those who pay would have first rights to any power produced if a plant is built.

So now, The Gray Harbor Public Utility District is in. Good. 26 more to go. (We looked around to see if any other district has thrown in – or refused to – we don’t thnk so – but if you know different, do let us know.)

---

The story, by Stephen Heiser of Nuclear Street, is quite interesting. Not wanting to roll back over what’s happened so far, he speculates what type of small reactor Energy Northwest might look at:

TerraPower, a start-up created inside Intellectual Ventures, the incubator founded by former Microsoft chief scientist Nathan Myhrvold, is trying to build small scale nuclear reactor that runs on depleted uranium, the waste product of current nuclear plants. Babcock & Wilcox, which has built nuclear reactors for decades, has also entered the market for micro nukes with M-Power.

Hyperion's proposed reactor has about half of the power capacity, but is about the size of a common hot tub. NuScale's power plant would need to be refueled every two years, while Hyperion says it would need refueling every five years. TerraPower wants to bury its reactor for 30 to 60 years without bothering it.

Sense some innovation and initiative in the nuclear energy business? Hot tubs and micro nukes – we like it.

Mudflats at Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge. The white specks are birds appropriately refuged there.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …