The Next Nuclear Plants Will Be Small, Svelte, and Safer — WIRED

in #energylast year (edited)

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A new generation of reactors will start producing power in the next few years. They're comparatively tiny—and may be key to hitting our climate goals.

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/the-next-nuclear-plants-will-be-small-svelte-and-safer/

For the last 20 years, the future of nuclear power has stood in a high bay laboratory tucked away on the Oregon State University campus in the western part of the state. Operated by NuScale Power, an Oregon-based energy startup, this prototype reactor represents a new chapter in the conflict-ridden, politically bedeviled saga of nuclear power plants.
NuScale’s reactor won’t need massive cooling towers or sprawling emergency zones. It can be built in a factory and shipped to any location, no matter how remote. Extensive simulations suggest it can handle almost any emergency without a meltdown. One reason is that it barely uses any nuclear fuel, at least compared with existing reactors. It’s also a fraction of the size of its predecessors.

I’ll admit to a bit of NIMBY skepticism. When I was a kid, the solution to the nuclear waste problem was “just around the corner”. 50+ years later, the solution is “just around the corner”.

But let’s face it — The Petroleum Age is ending. Solar power is booming but is still only a tiny speck in the overall energy landscape.

If even a diehard anti-nuke guy like me is grudgingly thinking about taking a new look at some nuclear options, maybe others can too.

Edited to add:
But there also seems to have been a recent breakthrough for solar energy. Take a look — https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Solar-Energy/Did-Scientists-Just-Crack-The-Solar-Code.html

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 last year 

I’ll admit to a bit of NIMBY skepticism. When I was a kid, the solution to the nuclear waste problem was “just around the corner”. 50+ years later, the solution is “just around the corner”.

I don't know what exactly is the problem? Are people still worried about keeping them sealed at a remote location away from populations or damaging wildlife? Sure, the decay will take forever, but why does that matter?

Not like anyone ever plans on visiting a landfill on regular basis and concerned about what environmental impact they have on the surrounding area. Hell, do people even want to make landfills disappear?

It's a silly worry in my opinion, especially when there exist first world countries that use them and they do just fine for the most part.

Until solar power can meet the demands (as well as cheap and simple maintenance), I think nuclear should be considered as a serious option. It's literally the most effective source of energy in the universe.

Are people still worried about keeping them sealed at a remote location away from populations or damaging wildlife?

Very much so. The Federal government may love the idea of burying it in Nevada but people in Nevada aren’t pleased with the idea. When some waste was moved out of South Carolina a few years back to be shipped to Nevada, the Feds pointedly kept it secret until after it had been done. I believe that even states that it transited through were not notified. Oh yes, many people don’t want to have anything to do with nuclear waste.

And a huge amount of waste is still stored at power plants because of the politically difficult path of moving it anywhere. Dozens of outdoor casks at the Prairie Island nuclear plant not far from Minneapolis for instance.

 last year 

The fear is somewhat unjustified. Like I said, ain't nobody asking them landfills to move and those leak toxins into the ground without containers.

Nuclear batteries.

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That is super interesting. The main question, of course, is whether it really is safer. The quote you provided, that it can handle just about any emergency situation without a meltdown, sounds promising.

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