Thursday, January 27, 2011


The promise of small nuclear reactors:
Over the past four years, half a dozen new companies, plus a few old-guard stalwarts such as Babcock & Wilcox, General Electric, and Westinghouse, have introduced designs for reactors approximately one-tenth the size of the conventional variety. . . .

Babcock & Wilcox’s 50-year history of building small submarine reactors for the U.S. Navy finally inspired it to introduce the 125-megawatt mPower reactor in 2010. And NuScale Energy of Corvallis, Ore., has developed a 45-megawatt reactor that could fit into a gazebo and power a town of 10,000.

. . . Hyperion Power Generation of Los Alamos, N.M., has an air-cooled 25-megawatt reactor that can be located in the desert. “It can be used to recover shale oil in Saskatchewan or power irrigation systems in California,” says John “Grizz” Deal, the CEO, who discovered the design while serving as “entrepreneur in residence” at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. “You can put it in the basement of a large hospital or industrial complex. The unit includes its own containment structure and can be buried underground for additional safety.”

In fact, small reactors fulfill the dream of the small-is-beautiful crowd for “distributing electrical generation” across the grid in small units, Internet-style, instead of concentrating it in a few large power plants.
Sounds great to me.

(Edited since originally posted.)