16 November 2009

The Perfect Portable 25 MW Survival Reactor?

On Wednesday in Washington DC, and on Thursday in London, Hyperion Power Generation will unveil the design of its small modular 25 MWe portable nuclear reactor. Brian Wang reports on Hyperion's plans, and provides other details on the remarkable safety and portability of the small modular reactor.

Hyperion's 25 MWe reactor is factory built and factory fueled and re-fueled. It can be shipped by truck, train, or ship. It provides enough power for 20,000 modern homes. A single fueling is good for 5+ years. They are designed for burial underground, for additional safety. All for a mere $25 million -- or about $1,250 per household in a 20,000 home community. For over 5 years of baseload power and heat, a $1,250 investment is minimal.

Perhaps you think a 20,000 home community is too large for a survival refuge? It depends on the emergency. If you are living through a situation where the minimum viable population (MVP) comes into consideration, a 20,000 household community is very close to the proper size. Particularly when the community members are selected for their ability to contribute to the long term survival not only of the community, but of the science, technology, skill set, and cultural and philosophical wealth of the modern western world.

Every community built for survival, should have the skill and knowledge set to re-create a small modern university and a small advanced industrial town. These communities will need reliable baseload power for routine heat and electricity, as well as to power small industrial projects to promote survivability and sustainability.

Some extreme catastrophes may be resolved within a 5 year time period. A successful EMP attack, for example, would require between a year and 5 years for the central authority to re-assert control and to re-establish supply lines, power, transportation, and broadband communication to remote parts of a country. For such extended emergencies, the Hyperion reactor would see the community through the worst.

Other catastrophes would extend far beyond the Hyperion's designed lifetime. While the community might continue to extract heat and power from the reactor for several years beyond the designed re-fueling date, the output would decay rapidly after a certain point.

That is why a community containing relatively large numbers (thousands) of competent individuals is so important for long-term survival. And it is why it is so important that the community be provided a solid 5+ years of reliable baseload power and heat in the early stages of adjustment away from the former established order. Thousands of isolated and distressed individuals need reassurance and stability provided in as many ways as possible.

Under the current leadership of the large western nations, hard-won resources are being squandered at record rates. The earned leadership of the west is being abdicated by incompetent governments. Power abhors a vacuum. With the surrender of western power, other powers will rise.

The new powers will not be so squeamish about human rights, of course, but the new powers will be fragmented and at war between themselves. Large scale breakdown of order should be expected.

In the case of broad-scale anarchy and war, isolated nuclei of civilisation that can provide the nuclei of a re-coalescence of western liberalism may make all the difference in the course of the next thousand years of human history.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a bit short on cash and I suspect that they won't stay on the shelves so to speak when a crisis hits and manufacturing plus installing more after society takes one to the groin might not be feasible. I hope someone who likes me buys one so I can drop by and recharge my iPod Touch.

Monday, 16 November, 2009  
Blogger kurt9 said...

These hyperion reactors will be ideal for the ocean city-state (seasteading).

Monday, 16 November, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

The Hyperion 25 MW reactors require in-factory fuel replacement every 5 years to maintain steady power production.

The Toshiba 4S 10 MW can theoretically operate for 30 years on one fueling.

Final costs must include infrastructure for housing the reactor, and power conversion and distribution infrastructure.

The Russians are building a floating reactor for use in the Arctic Ocean. But it should also be usable on a seastead.

Don't forget that the US Navy has been operating sea-going nuclear reactors for over 50 years.

The big obstacle is to get licensing from the US NRC, which will cost around $100 million, and takes too much time.

That's why Hyperion is moving operations to the UK.

Tuesday, 17 November, 2009  
Blogger neil craig said...

40 of them would be $1 billion for a billion megawatts which makes them about 2/3rds the engineering price of the Westinghouse AP1000. If they can really do this, I assume depending on massive production economies of scale, it will change the world. Not just survivalist communities but all the world's tiny countries can put up 2 fingers to the big boys & South Ossetia, Rhode Island, Venice, Skye etc could choose genuine economic independence.

Note that only about 1/3rd of electricity is used by households so while it could fuel 20,000 households it could provide normal demand levels of a community of about 7,000 households. I assume the PR doesn't mention this because windfarms are normally advertised in terms of households (& always assuming optimum wind).

Wednesday, 18 November, 2009  
Blogger read it said...

What happens after the 5+ years of optimal function? Does it become dangerous to deal with it? or does it become inert?

Wednesday, 18 November, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Neil, I recommend you read a couple of informed postings critical of the Hyperion approach here and here. I am beginning to become a true convert to the LFTR approach.

Silly Girl, you ask a very good question. The reactor has to be returned to the factory for removal of old fuel and re-fueling with new fuel. The old fuel is nuclear waste and has to be safely stored. (the actual arrangement would likely be the quick exchange of a fully fueled "new" reactor for your old, spent reactor.)

Like I mentioned before to Neil, I'm beginning to see how much better the LFTR approach is likely to be -- even for small modular reactors. Cheaper, more plentiful fuel. Far less toxic waste at the end.

Wednesday, 18 November, 2009  

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