Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

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 …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…