05 November 2009

Toshiba 4S 10 MW Reactor Ideal for Survival Retreat

Until the Hyperion backyard reactor clears all the technological and regulatory hurdles, persons wishing to provide multi-decadal baseload power to large isolated facilities, will be looking to Japanese company Toshiba. Whether you wish to power a remote town, a military base, a large mid-ocean seastead, a robust polar colony, or a good-sized survival colony meant to provide a "minimum viable population" for post-apocalyptic civilisational "reset", Toshiba's 10 MW reactor appears capable of providing the initial power boost.

The Toshiba 4S reactor is designed to provide 10 MW of power, with 30 years between refuelings. And Toshiba fully intends to pursue US licensing immediately -- with much deeper pockets for dealing with the US NRC, than startup Hyperion.
The technical specifications for the 4S reactor are unique in the nuclear industry. The actual reactor would be located in a sealed, cylindrical vault 30 m (98 ft) installed underground, while the building above ground would be only 22 x 16 x 11 m (72 × 52.5 x 36 ft) in size. This power plant is designed to provide 10 MW of electrical power. It’s not a big reactor when sized up to those 1800 MG proposals.

The 4S is a fast neutron reactor using neutron reflector panels around the perimeter to maintain neutron density. The reflector panels replace complicated control rods, while still keeping the ability to shut down the nuclear reaction in case of an emergency. Toshiba’s 4S utilizes liquid sodium as a coolant, allowing the reactor to operate 200 degrees hotter than by using water. Using sodium allows the reactor to be unpressurized, even though water at such temperatures would run at thousands of pounds per square inch.

The 4S reactor is expected to provide electric energy for between 5 and 13 cents/kWh, factoring in only the operating costs, to which unknown decommissioning and fuel waste processing and safe disposal costs need to be added. On paper, it has been determined that the reactor could run for 30 years without being refueled.

The Toshiba 4S Nuclear Battery is already being proposed as the power source for the remote Galena Nuclear Power Plant in Galena, Alaska.

Toshiba is the parent company for Westinghouse whose AP1000 is working through its revisions needed to get the original certification from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission back in force. Thus Toshiba has some expertise for an application attempt employed now. News is expected any day for the formal application to be submitted. Toshiba’s staff had at last report met with the NRC back on August 8, 2008, at which time the NRC’s staff met for a pre-application presentation of a Phenomena Identification and Ranking Table (PIRT) for the 4S reactor. _NewEnergyandFuel
Smaller, safer, modular, factory-built nuclear reactors can only be licensed if they are backed by big money. In the US, the regulatory deck is stacked against safe new nuclear designs. But demand for reliable baseload power in the US is significant, and will only grow larger as more emphasis is placed on developing a large new electric vehicle ground fleet. Toshiba and other large reactor companies are determined to cash in on this growing demand.

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