19 July 2010

An Update on Small Modular Fission Reactors

What is the need?
Most of the world's electrical grids are small. One single source of power generation should not exceed 10-15% of the grid size or risk stability and power concerns when the one large plant goes offline. The "standard" reactor produces 1 to 1.6 GWe and cost and estimated $5B+ and 84 months to build.

There is a an application for small modular reactors that can be built quickly and delivered onsite with fuel intact and ready to go. The small size could be used for power or for desalination. Most designs are modular in that you can add more than one to increase output slowly as needed. Construction of the "standard" reactor includes large forgings and significant resources for movement and construction of the large components. Small reactors are mostly skid built at the factory and shipped in using existing US or small factory construction and forging capabilities. _PowerIndustryTrends
New nuclear power construction has been essentially stalled for the past few decades in the western world, as faux environmental activists and their political connections have seized control of the energy future -- and thus the destiny -- of western societies.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are one answer to the failure of industry and governments to get past the faux environmental blockade in order to confront the impending critical shortage of electrical power in several parts of the world. SMRs can be used as "anchors" for a more resilient power grid that is capable of separating into dozens of smaller grids when confronted by a threat of cascading failure from an EMP attack, a solar storm, or a concerted hacker attack from China, Russia, or other hostile nation.

SMRs can also power remote off-grid military or scientific stations, remote towns and island populations, large seasteads and other extreme colonies, and large survivalist settlements -- not to mention space colonies and lunar settlements/stations.

This update on progress in SMRs comes from the blog Power Industry Trends, by way of NextBigFuture.
The players:  

-Small modular reactor currently rated at 45MWe with up to 24 units at single location (1080MWe)
-36 months from first concrete to power

-Passive cooling systems using natural circulation
-Proven LWR design which should provide faster regulatory review as it is not novel technology
-24 month refueling cycle
-500 tons as shipped via barge, truck or train, forged and fabbed at any mid-size facility
-Estimated cost advantages due to: simplicity, modular design, volume manufacturing and shorter construction times
-Filing with NRC for design certification in Q2 2012. NuScale expects the first nuclear facility will be operational sometime in 2018.
Data from Nuscale website

B&W mPower
-125 MWe to 750 MWe or more for a 4.5-year operating cycle without refueling
-Proven ALWR design which will reduce regulatory review time
-Design Certification submittal in 2011
-Letter of intent recieved from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to begin the process of evaluating a potential lead plant site
Data and picture from B&W website

IRIS (International Reactor Innovative and Secure)
-Westinghouse 335MWe LWR scalable to 100MWe
-Developed by an international consortium led by Westinghouse including 21 organizations from 10 countries
-Design Certification submittal in Q3 2012
-Up to 4 year refueling cycle
Data from Westinghouse website and NRC

ARC-100 Advanced Reactor Concepts
-Sodium-cooled, metal fueled, fast-reactor currently rated at 50-100MWe
-Sodium Cooled primary to super critical CO2 secondary Brayton Cycle
-Based on technology proven by over 30 years of successful operation of EBR II, an experimental program operated by the U.S. government
-20 year (yes year) refueling cycle
-Proliferation proof fuel system
-10 acre footprint and less than 24 months construction time
-Target cost of $0.05 per KWh for electricity production
-Initial discussions with NRC, but no date for design certification submittal
Data from Advance Reactor Concepts website

Hyperion Power Module (HPM) or Mini Power Reactor (MPR)
-Formerly the Comstar reactor invented by Dr. Otis "Pete"' Peterson at the United States' famed Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico. Through the commercialization program at LANL’s Technology Transfer Division, HPG was awarded the exclusive license
-Each liquid metal PbBi cooled HPM-based electric plant generates 25MWe  and can be configured for steam only, co-generation, or electricity only.  Two or more modules can be "teamed" together.
-$50 million for one 25Mwe module 
-Fits into a standard fuel transport containerTransported via ship, rail, or truck. Total mass < 20 metric tons 
-Produces power for 8-10 years and entire reactor module is replaced
-Expect design certification submittal to NRC within a year
-150 purchase commitments from customers such as mining and telecom companies, provided its technology gets licensed for operation 
-Meets all the non-proliferation criteria of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)  as the entire module is fueled and sealed in the factory and returned to the factory once expended.
-Alternate Energy Holdings Inc (AEHI) has signed a MoU with Hyperion Power Generation Inc of New Mexico which the companies have described as "the beginning of a joint venture" to build and market Hyperion's modular reactors around the world 
Data from Hyperion website 

 -Power Reactor Innovative Small Module or PRISM
-Liquid sodium cooled 311 MWe design
-use recycled spent nuclear fuel instead of creating new fuel
 -12-24 month refueling cycle
-NRC Combined Operating License submittal in Q1 2012
-NRC staff conducted pre-application review in early 1990s that resulted in the publication of NUREG-1368, "Preapplication Safety Evaluation Report for the Power Reactor Innovative Small Module (PRISM) Liquid-Metal Reactor (January 1994)."
Data from NRC website 

SMART (System Integrated Modular Advanced ReacTor)-KINS
-South Korean 100MWe molten salt reactor
-A consortium of 13 South Korean companies led by Korea Electric Power Co (Kepco) has agreed to invest 100 billion won (about $83 million) in the development of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (Kaeri) Smart reactor
-36 month refueling cycle
-Intend to license design by 2012
Data found here, Korean main link is broken

Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR)
-165 MWe Helium cooled design by PBMR, LTD
-Online refueling capability
-NRC Design Certification submittal in 2013
-Modular, gas-cooled, pebble bed reactor with online refueling that generates electricity via a gas or steam turbine and which may also be used for process heat applications.
-Licensing of a demonstration plant in South Africa is being reconsidered. Agreement with Chinese for cooperation in development
 Data from PBMR website

Toshiba 4S (Super-Safe, Small, and simple)
-10MWe liquid metal (sodium) design
-30 year refueling cycle
-NRC Design Approval submittal in Q2 2012
-apply later this year for U.S. approval to test the unit in the village of Galena in central Alaska,
 Data from NRC website 

 -Uses depleted uranium packed inside hexagonal pillars. The uranium is bred into plutonium, which undergoes fission, in a wave that moves through the core at only one centimetre per year as the wave moves from one end of the reactor to the other.
-U-238 is bred progressively into Pu-239, which is the actual fuel and undergoes fission. The reaction requires a small amount of enriched uranium to get started and could run for decades without refueling. However it is a low-density core and needs to be relatively large.

-Liquid sodium coolant
-Seeking to outsource the design for others to construct.  Currently in discussion with Toshiba.
Data from Intellectual Ventures website
More information at the Power Industry Trends blog.
US Power Utility Companies Taking Closer Look at SMRs

Don't miss the 10th Carnival of Nuclear Energy at NextBigFuture

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