Mini-Reactors Reinvent Nuclear Energy

A newly-designed nuclear "battery" utilizing 50-year old technology promises to revolutionize nuclear power with sealed, shed-sized reactors suitable for powering thousands of households.

"Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years. The miniature reactors will be factory-sealed, contain no weapons-grade material, have no moving parts and will be nearly impossible to steal because they will be encased in concrete and buried underground.

The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. 'Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world,' said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. 'They will cost approximately $25m [£13m] each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $250 per home.'

The reactors, only a few metres in diameter, will be delivered on the back of a lorry to be buried underground. They must be refuelled every 7 to 10 years. Because the reactor is based on a 50-year-old design that has proved safe for students to use, few countries are expected to object to plants on their territory. An application to build the plants will be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission next year.

'You could never have a Chernobyl-type event - there are no moving parts,' said Deal. 'You would need nation-state resources in order to enrich our uranium. Temperature-wise it's too hot to handle. It would be like stealing a barbecue with your bare hands.'"

Full Story: Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes

Comments

Comments

Be the first kid on your block to be the last kid on your block!

Prospective purchasers and neighbors of this technology need to read 'The Radioactive Boy Scout', watch the documentary 'Power Trip', ponder the logical implications of do-it-yourself gonzo experimentalists like Kipkay, and remember the radionuclide poisoning of communities surrounding the Juarez and Goiania junkyards before blithely ordering up a backyard nuclear reactor...

Safe Nuclear Power

"They must be refuelled every 7 to 10 years. .... 'You would need nation-state resources in order to enrich our uranium."

Of course, it will be perfectly safe to have all those trucks on the road carrying uranium for refuelling: those trucks will never have accidents and spill the uranium.

It takes nation-state resources to enrich the uranium, but don't worry about nation states like Iran and North Korea enriching it to build nuclear bombs, and don't worry about terrorists stealing it to create dirty bombs - conventional bombs that spread radioactivity.

And where do they dispose of the waste? In the US, Yucca Flats has not yet been approved, but there is already almost enough waste to fill it. To expand the nuclear industry, they would have to start all over and get approval to build another waste disposal facility or to expand Yucca Flats.

Charles Siegel

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