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The Tiny, Simple Nuclear Reactor That Could Change Energy

WoodsPlinker

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So instead of big ones more numerous small ones... Still wouldn't this increase the likelihood that one could have problems?

And if they cram them all together and one has problems it would just affect the rest.

Probably will be quite safe but after the mess the few that became unsafe made you still need to ask these questions.

I'm just thinking 8 tiny engines for my car would just mean more likelihood that one would throw a rod.
 
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The history of American-designed nuclear power plants is one of huge, custom-designed complexes. By choosing this path, each plant was different from the others, by varying amounts. Choice of location was often politically motivated. Profitability of the designer/builder was the main goal.

This extended to plants built by American companies overseas.

Problems related to location (think Fukushima Daiichi) can also be related to lack of effective protections at the design level. So it all falls back on design.

France has had an accident-free system of nuclear power plants for fifty years. They built standardized plants and perfected them from experience. Fear has prevented the USA from doing the same, although it seems that American firms would rather build none of their "custom" plants than any "standardized" plants.

How many know that there has been a small nuclear reactor in SE Portland for over 50 years? It is at Reed College. :cool:
 
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After watching my neighbor on his riding lawn mower for 10+ years
the last thing I want him to do is to be fiddling around with a cute little
miniature nuclear reactor in his garage.

There are some people on this planet that:
In giving them 2 steel balls 3 inches in diameter and locking in a room with no doors or windows,
then coming back in 2 hours, they will have lost one steel ball and broken the other.
 
I was involved with some of the R&D investigations for PGE for the NuScale Reactors. Oregon State was very involved with the company making them and trying to get them commercialized. It is actually a novel, safe and cost effective way to produce power. You could take one at a time offline for refueling and repairs while the rest were turning the turbine.
Very interesting. In looking over the site, it looks they should have all the licensing done in 2020 and a facility operational in Utah in 2026.
 
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These reactors could change naval engineering too, IF they pan out. Would make it a whole lot more viable to just refurb ships and subs rather than have to build new every 30 years...
Not really. The Navy prefers the light water reactor because in an emergency they can flood it with seawater, which they have in abundance. Sodium reactors have a nasty tendency to explode when you do this, which is awkward when they are still attached to the ship. For the same reason, a ship that takes battle damage to a light water reactor can still cool it, but take damage at sea with a sodium reactor, and again with that pesky explosion thing. The Russians had problems using bismuth liquid metal reactors as well, because during some emergency shutdowns, radioactive liquid bismuth rapidly cooled in the pipes and the reactor core rather than in the storage tanks - meaning their reactor couldn't restart. Ever. And while the Navy knows a thing or two about corrosion control, keeping caustic, corrosive liquid salts contained is a real challenge and much harder to manage than sea water.

This bias of the U.S. Navy is one reason the light water reactor designs have been pushed over metal and salt based designs in the USA. This in turn affected reactor designs around the world.
 

Pete F

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The few Reedies I've know well, make me really concerned there's something overlooked in the 'hazardous emissions' standards.
I have seen it and used it to detect metals contamination in plant life. It is not a power reactor, just a pool with enriched uranium rods and control rods. Move the control rods and you get nuclear fission that can be useful to irradiate samples. It is about as safe as you can get.

You are right about most of the students. They have never seen or been in an operational commercial reactor. There are no hazardous emissions, not even steam from the Reed reactor. When dealing with them, they thought that they were hot stuff, until they met someone with 15+ years in naval and commercial reactors.
 

CamoDeafie

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But how many times has PM promised "NEXT BIG THING will mean Free Energy Forever" over the decades? I take them and PopSci almost as seriously as the GlobalCooling, er GlobalWarming, er "Anthropogenic Climate Change" cultists who screech about my house and SUV while giving their Cult Leader Albore a pass for all his megamansions and private jets...
Do they still run the "bicycle that rides like a car!" Kit ad in the back pages? :rolleyes:

How many issues have they dedicated to the next big airliner design with a flying wing on the cover, only for it to be again, just another concept that Boeing or McDonnell have no plans on making?:rolleyes:

Or how many articles dedicated to the Area 51 things, including "next Area 51"?

What about all these articles on jet packs.. :rolleyes:
 

gmerkt

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Popular Mechanics eh?
I've been waiting...
I see lots of waiting from posts above.

I don't want to knock technology. Here it comes, BUT: I'm still waiting for my Hydrogen Fuel Cell crate motor so I can convert my 72 Ford Ranch Wagon.

My school days buddy was big into Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. Some people are more dreamer-ish, some are more practical-ish, there's plenty of room for overlap. But I used to kid my buddy and refer to his favorite mags as, "Popular Fiction."
 
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The smartest person I ever met (PHD in Elect Engineering AND Physics before the age of 22) told me about the micro nuke concept 8-10 years ago. 1/4" tall nuke plants.

One tiny reactor powers a neighborhood. Easy to swap out. Because of size, 3 mile island type incidents are not as much of concern.

Seeing how battery tech has gone stale in last several years, we seem to have reached the summit for power storage. So producing power is necessary.

When you realize how pretty much every person in this country has some demand for power, the implications are staggering. If this technology does get put together, this will be revolutionary.
 

gmerkt

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One tiny reactor powers a neighborhood. Easy to swap out. Because of size, 3 mile island type incidents are not as much of concern.
I like this idea. But the hurdles at this time seem insurmountable for practical deployment. Nukes have been around long enough to scare everyone beyond all reason. And to some degree for good reason as well. As a result, the safety issues in terms of installing and servicing mini-nukes would be huge. Training all the guys who run around in utility trucks would be massive and lengthy. Then there is always the exposure of these mini-nukes all around to some form of hazard, however weird, random or improbable. After all, if humans have created it, something can go wrong. All it would take is a single million to one event that would "brew up" a neighborhood and pandemonium would reign for this concept.

The regulatory and inspection issues would be staggering.

There is also the possible issue of security for these things. Wide deployment would invite mischief of that sort, I'd think.
 

Pete F

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These are not neighborhood reactors, singly placed to power a certain area. They are designed to be used in groups, say 6-10. Then you have the benefit of shutting one down at a time for refueling and maintenance, while the rest keep the turbine generator spinning. Remember that the reactor does not produce electricity all by itself.
 
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These are not neighborhood reactors, singly placed to power a certain area. They are designed to be used in groups, say 6-10. Then you have the benefit of shutting one down at a time for refueling and maintenance, while the rest keep the turbine generator spinning. Remember that the reactor does not produce electricity all by itself.
Precisely... on a big-picture level, the only difference between a coal and nuclear plant is the source of heat providing steam to the turbines.
 
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I like this idea. But the hurdles at this time seem insurmountable for practical deployment. Nukes have been around long enough to scare everyone beyond all reason. And to some degree for good reason as well. As a result, the safety issues in terms of installing and servicing mini-nukes would be huge. Training all the guys who run around in utility trucks would be massive and lengthy. Then there is always the exposure of these mini-nukes all around to some form of hazard, however weird, random or improbable. After all, if humans have created it, something can go wrong. All it would take is a single million to one event that would "brew up" a neighborhood and pandemonium would reign for this concept.

The regulatory and inspection issues would be staggering.

There is also the possible issue of security for these things. Wide deployment would invite mischief of that sort, I'd think.
I don't think we are close to rolling this out. But the concept remains solid.

There's no free lunch in energy. No matter if it's pollution from coal, salmon being ESA listed because (In part) of dams, or birds being killed by wind farms.

Training folks to do the job is like any potential dangerous job. Folks are smart. They will figure it out.

As far as the uneducated public being scared, it's a non issue so long as there's science to back these up. Much of the same public thinks Hillary won the election and black rifles are evil. Eases my concern for their opinion.
 
Some people are more dreamer-ish, some are more practical-ish, there's plenty of room for overlap. But I used to kid my buddy and refer to his favorite mags as, "Popular Fiction."
Indeed, well said, there are those who are technological dreamers and those more pragmatic. I get it, we must all come to terms with things from an intellectually honest standpoint. I make no secret that I'm a computer science type, optimist, futurist, and unabashed, self-admitted absurdist.

Sure, some technologies pan out, others don't; that's the way it works. The idiots in the media rarely help. What I've seen progress in my own lifetime, in every field of endeavor, is nothing short of stunning; how science has evolved since my paternal grandmother was born in 1919 is nothing short of magical. As one Arthur C. Clarke put it: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

To each their own, though I cannot give any credence to:
sml_gallery_9043_204_19350.jpg

Why? If for no other reason, no fun. Ever forward. Well wishes. :)
 

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