Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mini-Nuke plants

As I wrote recently when reviewing the final e2: energy episode, there is a plan to develop miniature modular nuclear plants. The SFReporter has an article describing just such a reactor.

In this case, the plant is purported to be self-contained and needs nothing but an external turbine connected to it to generate up to 27 MW of electricity. This looks slightly different than the "lego brick" concept described in the episode. If practical and real, could this be a nuclear solution that works? Is the fear of a leak or the security risk perceived to be so great that it would only be deployed at remote industrial locations?

Scienctifically, it seems a little too good to be true. A self-contained, sealed reactor (more of a battery according to a Hyperion spokesperson), with no inputs after creation that generates power for 5 years. It is still going to have the issue of waste disposal as well.

I'm a bit disappointed that they focus as much on using the reactor to harvest oil from oil shale more economically than on generating electricity for people to use. We do not need more technology to help us get more oil. We do not need to enable ourselves to use a non-GHG producing energy-source in order to power the largest green house gas producing sector, internal combustion engines.

I can see that they're pitching it this way in order to pander to the energy security crowd, by enabling the US to extract more of its own oil and thereby reduce imports of oil. Only problem with that is the US doesn't have the reserves to supply its own needs.

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