The Anonymous Widower

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

My objections to nuclear power plants like Hinckley Point C, is very much like my objections to giant aircraft carriers like HMS Queen Elizabeth,enormous 4×4 Chelsea tractors and massive houses, where one billionaire lives with just his trophy wife.

It’s just that they satisfy the ego of a class of men (and it’s usually men!), who like to show off, that they have more money or power than others.

There are generally much more efficient and affordable ways of achieving the same aims.

As a small example, I remember having a chat with a General in the British Army, who had very low opinions of heavy tanks and felt that there were better ways of spending the money to achieve the same objectives.

I also remember some of the arguments about the aluminium frigates after the Falklands War. A lot of these were amplified, by a friend, who’d gone to the islands as an officer on a British Rail ferry.

This is said about Hinckley Point C in Wikipedia.

Hinkley Point C nuclear power station is a much-delayed proposal to construct a 3,200 MWe nuclear power station with two EPR reactors in Somerset, England. The proposed site is one of eight announced by the British government in 2010,[5] and on 26 November 2012 a nuclear site licence was granted. In October 2014, the European Commission adjusted the “gain-share mechanism” so that the project does not break state-aid rules.[7] Financing for the project will be provided “by the mainly [French] state-owned EDF [and Chinese] state-owned CGN will pay £6bn for one third of it”.[8] EDF may sell up to 15% of their stake. Financing of the project is still to be finalised.

I have a feeling that any sane woman, who’s lived with a man with bad shopping habits, would cancel it tomorrow.

After all, it’s supposed to cost £18billion and there is still no date yet for when it will produce a watt of electricity.

As a reaction to these enormous costs, the Small Modular Nuclear Reactor is being proposed. Wikipedia says this.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a type of nuclear fission reactor which are smaller than conventional reactors, and manufactured at a plant and brought to a site to be fully constructed.

Small reactors are defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency as those with an electricity output of less than 300 MWe, although general opinion is that anything with an output of less than 500 MWe counts as a small reactor.

Modular reactors allow for less on-site construction, increased containment efficiency, and heightened nuclear materials security.

I recommend reading the full Wikipedia article.

I feel that SMRs have a lot of advantages.

  • Much more of the building can be in a factory, not on a bleak remote site.
  • They are particularly suited to remote locations, where there is a shortage of construction workers.
  • An SMR may be a much less risky project cost-wise than a conventional large plant.
  • Containment is more efficient.
  • Proliferation concerns are lessened.
  • Say you are building a plant that needs a lot of electricity, like say an aluminium smelter. The SMR could be built alongside, so there would be no need for massive transmission lines, between the smelter and its power source.
  • They could be built underground, lessening the visual impact.
  • High energy use industries like steel-making could be paired with an SMR.
  • Large office complexes like Canary Wharf could be linked to an SMR deep underneath for their massive energy use.
  • Build time is much less.

I like the concept and think that this type of reactor, perhaps arranged in groups around a country or region, will kill off the traditional large nuclear reactor.

This section on safety features illustrates the innovative thinking behind the reactors.

Since there are several different ideas for SMRs, there are many different safety features that can be involved. Coolant systems can use natural circulation – convection – so there are no pumps, no moving parts that could break down, and they keep removing decay heat after the reactor shuts down, so that the core doesn’t overheat and melt. Negative temperature coefficients in the moderators and the fuels keep the fission reactions under control, causing the fission reactions to slow down as temperature increases.

I suspect we can now design a reliable reactor, that say it received a direct hit from a tsunami or three simultaneous crashes from Jumbo jets, would fail-safe.

There are certainly a lot of groups and companies trying to design the ultimate SMR.

There is even a concept being developed at the Universities of Manchester and Delft in the Netherlands called a u-Battery. That concept may not work, but something like it will produce electricity for a lot of people and industry around the world.

The dinosaurs like Hinckley Point C are hopefully a mistake of the past.

 

 

July 12, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized, World | ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Two years ago I wrote Small Modular Nuclear Reactors. […]

    Pingback by Canada Envisions Small Nuclear Reactors Producing Power And Hydrogen In Remote Towns « The Anonymous Widower | August 5, 2018 | Reply


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