Small reactors and how they can change nuclear power

Prior to reading this article I did not know much about how small reactors could eventually change the nuclear power world. When most people think of nuclear they tend to think of the negative effects and radioactivity. But under the right circumstances the power can be great and help the world. The Obama administration has put into effect a 450 million dollar program to try and install these small reactors into the grid by 2022. The small reactors would be able to provide 300 MW of electricity which could essentially provide electricity for 200,000 homes. The reactors would be cheaper to build and could easily be shipped a big plus over the usual big reactors that are built on site. Since a big reactor can take up to 7 billion dollars to build companies are hoping that by creating more smaller reactors that nuclear power will be used more. The companies are hoping that the reactors can be installed underground and run for up too ten years before they have to be replaced. (1)

The negative effects of trying to install these small reactors still reside in the safety applications. As with any new technology the reactors would have to pass every government regulation that is required for a big reactors. While the upfront cost for the smaller reactor would essentially be smaller than the large reactor, the overall cost has to take in effect the cost of manpower. If the reactors still take as many operators and money to run as a large reactor than it makes no sense to build a smaller one.  The last effect that the small reactor will have to challenge is that it is still more costly than alternative fuels. Due to the low price of natural gas and gas turbines it is going to be hard for people to be willing to invest in a more expensive not yet proven idea. (1)

In my personal opinion I think that the small reactors can essentially help the world and US become a better industry of nuclear power. While every single fuel source is going to have negative and positives I think that these small reactors can help people understand that not all nuclear power is bad. If the reactors can be run without a huge man force and essentially cut costs than I think more people will jump on board


1.) “Small Reactors make a bid to revive nuclear power” by David Biello


1 Comment

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One response to “Small reactors and how they can change nuclear power

  1. shredtown

    I don’t think the fact that the reactors being smaller will be the key component to changing the scope of nuclear power. In the same source you used, it says:

    “‘Yeah, there’s less concrete and, yeah, there’s less steel in the reactor vessel,’ says nuclear engineer Eric Loewen, chief consulting engineer at GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, which is proposing a modular fast reactor to help the U.K. with its plutonium problem. But the list of other expenses associated with nuclear will not change with the new designs and ‘that gives pause to small modular reactors.'”

    What’s more important, in my opinion, is that the nuclear reactors greatly improve on current drawbacks. These drawbacks are waste, safety concerns, nuclear proliferation and difficulty in being the cheapest energy source. Other technology needs to be improved rather than just having a smaller pressurized water reactor.

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