SMR’s Big Future: Micro Reactors Offer Macro Solution to Wind & Solar Power Supply Chaos

For the future of small modular nuclear reactors, it pays to look to the present: 200 small nuclear reactors are presently powering 160 ships and submarines all around the world, and have been for decades.

The wind and solar cult, however, continue with the mantra that SMRs are a pipe dream, cooked up by conservative reactionaries, doggedly ignoring their superior capability in the realm of naval propulsion.

STT promotes nuclear power because it works: safe, affordable, reliable and the perfect foil for those worried about human-generated carbon dioxide gas – because it doesn’t generate any, while generating power on demand, irrespective of the weather – unlike the forever unreliables: wind and solar.

The question of bringing SMRs onshore is a matter of when, rather than if. Thanks to the fact that wind and solar obsession in Europe has brought them to the brink of a total system collapse. Now, everybody is talking about the importance of having reliable electricity on tap, whatever the weather. Anthony Watts takes a look at a couple of the designs that are in the offing.

About the Newly Approved Nuclear Microreactor
Watts Up With That
Anthony Watts
9 August 2022

While greens are clamoring for more unreliable wind and solar, nuclear is about to make a big leap forward with the recent Pentagon approval of the first microreactor. Here is a technical summary from the U.S. Office of Nuclear Energy.

Microreactors are factory-built, plug-and-play reactors.

They can be used to power military bases, disaster recovery efforts or remote locations where traditional infrastructure doesn’t exist.

These mini reactors can provide between 1-20 megawatts of thermal energy used directly as heat or converted to electric power.

They fit on the back of a semi-truck and will not require a large number of people to operate them.

Microreactors can integrate seamlessly into distributed grids to complement renewable power and are expected to run continuously for about 10 years without refueling.

Once the core is spent, they can be exchanged for a new one.

Features
Microreactors are not defined by their fuel form or coolant. Instead, they have three main features:

  1. Factory fabricated: All components of a microreactor would be fully assembled in a factory and shipped out to location. This eliminates difficulties associated with large-scale construction, reduces capital costs and would help get the reactor up and running quickly.
  2. Transportable: Smaller unit designs will make microreactors very transportable. This would make it easy for vendors to ship the entire reactor by truck, shipping vessel, airplane or railcar.
  3. Self-adjusting: Simple and responsive design concepts will allow microreactors to self-adjust. They won’t require a large number of specialized operators and would utilize passive safety systems that prevent any potential for overheating or reactor meltdown.

Benefits
Microreactor designs vary, but most would be able to produce 1-20 megawatts of thermal energy that could be used directly as heat or converted to electric power. They can be used to generate clean and reliable electricity for commercial use or for non-electric applications such as district heating, water desalination and hydrogen fuel production.

Other benefits:

  • Seamless integration with renewables within microgrids
  • Can be used for emergency response to help restore power to areas hit by natural disasters
  • A longer core life, operating for up to 10 years without refueling
  • Can be quickly removed from sites and exchanged for new ones

Most designs will require fuel with a higher concentration of uranium-235 that’s not currently used in today’s reactors, although some may benefit from use of high temperature moderating materials that would reduce fuel enrichment requirements while maintaining the small system size.

The U.S. Department of Energy supports a variety of advanced reactor designs, including gas, liquid metal, molten salt and heat pipe-cooled concepts. American microreactor developers are currently focused on gas and heat pipe-cooled designs that could debut as early as the mid-2020s.

Watts Up With That?

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. sounds very interesting. how safe are they? would reactors fuelled by thorium be safer?

  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    The one problem I see with the above reactor is the necessity for highly reactive fuel, hence the need for highly motivated supervision AND the likely backlash from the gullible (after the predictible Green’s scare).
    The options are the homogeneous type (which have been used in a number of countries for 50+ years without incident). Unfortunately only in a low power role and mostly for medical isotopes. Supposedly Russia was building one (170MW) in a remote area where supervision might be “a bit patchy”.
    The other is the liquid salt type under active development in a number of countries – I think China has started or is about to do so with a 5MW unit (based near the Gobi desert). Yes, I know about the USA one in the 1960’s but that was bsed on sulphates, not the current fluoride types.

  3. catweazle666 says:

    The Russians have an elegant solution, the Akademik Lomonosov:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_floating_nuclear_power_station

    No problem with cooling water.

  4. Wouldn’t it be nice if the spent fuel turned out to absorb carbon thus nuclear then could solve everything making everyone happy! Mind us the amount of carbon emitted is so small it’s totally insignificant as the changing climate scrubs it by natural process always keeping a balance, anyway this should be used as a marketing pitch even if it does not absorb the carbon as all these wind and solar pushers do is lie constantly about their garbage products.

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