Nuclear Reactors Evolve: The Next Thing Is To Make Them Modular, Smaller And Cheaper

Nuclear Reactors
Written by Hassan Abbas

Building a nuclear plant today is extremely costly and complicated since a project of this type carries a heavy regulatory burden. This has caused that in the last 40 years no new permits have been granted since we continue with the same designs and under the same environmental profile.

But this could change in the next few years since the NuScale company has received authorization from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. to be able to start with the construction of the so-called SMR, which would be the first small modular reactor.

Nuclear Reactors

Nuclear Reactors

Small Modular Reactor

In the last 20 years, only one nuclear plant has been opened in the United States, the Watts Bar 2 that began its construction in 1973 and represented an expenditure that exceeded 4.7 billion dollars, 2 billion more than budgeted.

According to NuScale, SMR (Small Modular Reactor) is the most important change in the design of nuclear reactors since its discovery. For starters, we do not need the giant cooling towers here. This type of reactor is designed so that all its components are built and assembled in situ, in the place where it will be operating. This makes it much cheaper and faster to build.

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Another advantage, according to the company, is that it is much smaller, which makes it ideal for rural communities or outside cities, in regions where no more than one gigawatt of energy is needed. But the most important thing is its modular capacity, where reactors can be added or removed according to the needs of the place.

In the case of the approved project, this will consist of a plant with 12 modules in Idaho, in the north of the United States. Each module will measure 23m high by 5m wide, have a thermal capacity of 160 MWt and will generate 50 MW of electricity. Its weight will be only 700 tons and its price is estimated at $ 5,100 per kilowatt.

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According to the specifications, each module will have enough fuel to operate for a year, and once it is finished, it is dismantled to be refueled either by train or trailer. The first nuclear power plant of this type will begin construction in the mid-2020s, and NuScale hopes to have it ready in less than 10 years.

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About the author

Hassan Abbas

Tech enthusiast with too many items on his wish-list and not nearly enough money! Specializing in all things tech, with a slight Apple bent he has been writing for various blogs for the best part of (too many) years

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