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The 'nuclear battery' that will charge your neighborhood as if it were a mobile

The ‘nuclear battery’ that will charge your neighborhood as if it were a mobile

A group of experts in nuclear energy has proposed a new system that according to them will mean a paradigm shift with respect to the current method of producing nuclear energy. This system consists of mini-reactors that can be transported anywhere by truck and that are capable of providing electricity for an entire neighborhood for 10 years with hardly any need for supervision.

These ‘nuclear batteries’, which is what their creators call them, are not a new concept. The researchers acknowledge that small nuclear reactors of up to 100 megawatts in the past. In fact, we recently saw another similar proposal from some floating nuclear plants They had a minimum of 200 megawatts and could reach 800. But this new system, they say, breaks with what has been done so far due to its size, it fits in a container, and the power generated by its turbine, between 5 and 10 MWe.

The reactors run on low-enriched uranium and, according to the researchers’ calculations, a single unit can supply power to around 7,000 to 8,000 households, to a large shopping center or a medium-sized data center.

Design of the first modular mini-reactor plant in the USA at the Idaho National Laboratory. (NuScale Power)

Also, according to their creators, they have a monitoring system that allows it to work almost autonomously, although it will also be supervised remotely. The mini-actors can work for 10 years, Once that time has passed, they are waited for them to cool down and are sent to a center for recharging, reconditioning and waste management.

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This design has presented recently in The Bridge magazine, of the National Academy of Engineering of the United States. One of the creators is Jacopo Buongiorno, Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT, assures in statements to the blog of the university page that this type of reactors is so small that it can be assembled in a factory. This makes it drastically reduce the enormous construction costs of traditional nuclear plants.

Design of the minireactor of the Silicon Valley company, Oklo. (Okio)

According to Buongiorno this type of ‘nuclear battery’ is deployed anywhere in a matter of days and becomes a kind of Exceptionally safe on-demand energy service.

“The small size helps security in a number of ways. First, the amount of waste heat that has to be removed when the reactor is shut down is small. Second, the reactor core has a high surface-to-volume ratio, which also makes it easier for the fuel to nuclear stay cool in any circumstance without any outside intervention, ”says Buongiorno. “Third, the reactor also has a very compact and strong steel containment structure surrounding it to protect it against a release of radioactivity into the biosphere.”

In addition, to increase the level of security, the researchers recommend placing these nuclear batteries in the subsoil and thus protect the reactor from possible external attacks.

This is how the Westinghouse company’s minireactor design works. (Westinghouse)

Good morning assures that NASA already tested a similar design It cost them $ 20 million and took three years to develop. Right now, he says, there are six other companies developing similar designs so it may not take long to see one of these systems in operation. First they will have to pass the filter of regulatory agencies and show that they are as safe as the MIT professor suggests.

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“These ‘nuclear batteries’ are ideal for building resilience in all sectors of the economy, as they provide a constant and reliable source of carbonless electricity and heat that it can be located right where its production is needed ”, affirms Buongiorno. “If they go mainstream as we envision, they could contribute significantly to reducing greenhouse gas emissions around the world.”