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Community-scale nuclear heat & power

Develop small nuclear power for communities
 
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Nuclear power systems have, despite all the fears, made a significant contribution to our energy mix. On a “fatalities per kilowatt-hour produced” basis, it is safer than coal, gas, and even wind power.

Large-scale nuclear costs billions of pounds per plant, and the delays on major projects highlight the difficulty of delivering mega projects; complexity, cost and programme scale exponentially.

There are small reactor designs that operate safely and reliably (acknowledging minor issues) such as the PWR currently in service on Trident submarines.

From a comparative safety point of view, the crew of such a vessel spend their working life a few tens-of-metres away from an active reactor.

Something like these compact, reliable reactors could be located in Residential communities, to both generate electricity and provide heating (which is conventionally rejected as a waste product)

We still need to solve nuclear reprocessing and waste, and consider fuel and the potential for misuse/terrorism. But with municipal fast breeder reactors to generate “fresh” fuel, and burn up potentially divertable products, there are technical solutions.

Toasty homes, happy people.

Frankx, Oct 28 2019

Small Modular Reactors https://en.wikipedi...all_modular_reactor
[Frankx, Oct 28 2019]

[link]






       Until they leak out/meltdown/get attacked by whomever etc etc.
xenzag, Oct 28 2019
  

       The U.S. thoroughly investigated small reactors in the 1950's. The Ivans did the same.   

       For civil powerplants, the economies of scale from building fewer but larger plants (preferably well above Maximum Credible Tsunami level) are easily calculable. Mini reactors like the SNAP involve too many compromises for civil use.   

       Waste is easily dealt with; security is easier for a few big plants.
8th of 7, Oct 28 2019
  

       I was thinking of SMR (small modular reactor) [link]- type reactors, rather than SNAP. These claim advantages in security and standardisation of design.   

       Given the difficulties (nationally, and probably globally) to deliver very (multi-billion) large projects, I would think that modularisation and standardisation could deliver multiple small installations better and cheaper than a few very large ones.
Frankx, Oct 28 2019
  

       Also, those economies of scale are based on ill- founded and outdated assumptions (and cost forecasts) of delivering very large engineering projects.   

       Factor in the program and cost-overruns, and the picture is different.
Frankx, Oct 28 2019
  

       "You don't just walk into a store, and buy plutonium" - nor uranium, nor thorium ... well, maybe thorium, but not in a usable form for reactor fuel. Even if all you need is a tiny bit to light up your flux capacitor- or your neighborhood - you need a lot of infrastructure for fuel production and handling.   

       Economically, it's a bigger problem than waste disposal.
Chairborne Hero, Oct 28 2019
  

       California notwithstanding, electricity is decidedly safer to transport than nuclear fissile material. However, more nuke plants are decidedly needed.
RayfordSteele, Oct 28 2019
  

       [Chairborne Hero]...Hi, welcome! Yes, it takes a lot of infrastructure and technology to make nuclear fuel. That’s a bit of a disadvantage for nations who want to deploy more nuclear power. But it’s a global nuclear security benefit - if it was easy to separate isotopes (of, for instance, Uranium), the world would be a very much scarier place.   

       Economics of extraction, processing and purification do have a major part to play but: 1) current proposals for next-generation nuclear in the UK are entirely driven by capital cost, and private companies (legally mandated) right to recover those costs via electricity pricing, 2) a small fleet of nationally (UKAEA) owned breeder reactors could (most efficiently and securely) be the provider of fuel for public generators and recipient of spent fuel for reprocessing, and 3) we have to work our long-term storage and final disposal, whether we increase, decrease or stop entirely. We have a significant backlog of waste to deal with.
Frankx, Oct 29 2019
  

       [Frankx] “A bit of a disadvantage” yes, this is where your plan falls short. Not for lack of trying though, the idea of small modular reactors has been around almost as long as nuclear power but never implemented beyond special cases.
Chairborne Hero, Oct 29 2019
  

       And then there's the issue if shipping that fuel. In the US we have difficulty running trains without them careening into cars, people, other trains...
RayfordSteele, Oct 29 2019
  

       ... trucks .... school buses ...   

       Quite how much of the blame should be attributed to the trains, and how much to the Darwin-award self-nominators blithely picnicking on grade crossings while complaining about the noise and the flashing lights is not clear.
8th of 7, Oct 29 2019
  

       I'm a fan of one solution that takes some community trust. If you put nuclear plants *somewhat* near cities, it's possible to dump a significant amount of heat to their water supply, while still being far enough away that they'd probably be ok if something bad happened. Water that arrives in the city is then a few degrees warmer, reducing the amount of heat needed in water heaters. The amount of energy saved could be fairly large, without having to have nuclear power in cities.
Worldgineer, Oct 29 2019
  

       Why not spend the price of a couple of large conventional fission plants on fusion research ?
8th of 7, Oct 29 2019
  

       // Why not spend the price of a couple of large conventional fission plants on fusion research ?//   

       Because you will end up with ~2 fission reactors worth of electricity shortfall and a new generation of people who appreciate how hard fusion is.
bs0u0155, Oct 29 2019
  

       Oh come on, it's only banging deuterons together, how hard can it be ?   

       Just start with a T-U fusion device and scale it down to commercialization. What could possibly go wrong ?
8th of 7, Oct 29 2019
  

       //If you put nuclear plants *somewhat* near cities//   

       The new high temperature rubbish incinerators with scrubbed smoke stacks would probably be better placed near population areas.   

       //one solution that takes some community trust//   

       Fuel rod baskets outside the backdoor of small nuclear plants. "One extra fuel rod today please".
bigsleep, Nov 01 2019
  
      
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