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September 24, 2008

Neighborhood Nukes

Delivered By Truck

Large, centralized power plants--a gigawatt capacity and more--offer economies of scale that make sense where there are large populations and developed industries, such as North America, Euro-Russia, and eastern Asia. But there are many places with real and pressing needs, where that kind of provision can't be justified, or the infrastructure necessary to support it doesn't exist. And in the case of nuclear power, even in many parts of the developed world, political uncertainties can result in needlessly excessive costs and construction times, making capital investment problematical.

A Los Alamos-based company called Hyperion Power Generation, Inc. is developing and commercializing a design pioneered at Los Alamos National Laboratory for small, factory-sealed, mass-produced, transportable nuclear power module based on training reactors that have been safely operated for years in universities and laboratories around the globe. Applications include industrial heat and power sources, community needs, and remote sites such as military installations.

A unit delivers 70 megawatts of heat, which equates to 27 megawatts of electricity when driving a steam turbine--sufficient to power 20,000 typical American homes--and is small enough to be transported on a truck, There are no moving parts to wear down, and units are never opened on site. The design precludes any possibility of the reaction going supercritical or resulting in a thermal runaway type of emergency situation. The waste produced after five years of operation is approximately the size of a softball and is suitable for for fuel recycling.

Three factories are planned to produce and ship the approximately 4,000 orders anticipated for the first design. This would represent more generating capacity than the 104 nuclear reactors currently used in the United States.

More at: http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/

 
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