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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Compact Nuclear Power

IEEE,  A perhaps unexpected small power source:

" ... Boston-based UPower Technologies thinks it can reinvent nuclear power by going small and ditching the predominant light-water design. Its reactor, whose contents would fit inside a shipping container, turns out between 1 and 2 megawatts of electric power, compared with about a gigawatt for a full-size nuclear power plant. And instead of submerging fuel rods in constantly circulated water to keep the core from overheating, UPower’s closed-cycle design uses a liquid that evaporates when exposed to the heat of fission, but then condenses when that heat is used to turn generators. For foolproof safety—a heightened concern after the Fukushima disaster—it can dissipate excess heat and avoid a meltdown through natural convection. But will UPower’s intent to quickly commercialize its miniature nuclear power plant be frustrated by a U.S. licensure and regulation regime built around evaluating light-water designs? ... "

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