Nuclear energy plants are difficult and costly to build that more are shutting down than opening up. An Oregon firm, NuScale Power, desires to change that pattern by constructing nuclear plants which are the alternative for existing ones: smaller, simpler and cheaper.
The corporate says its plant design utilizing small modular reactors additionally may work effectively with renewable energy, similar to wind and photovoltaic, by offering backup power supply when the wind is not blowing, and the sun is not shining.
The 98 nuclear reactors functioning in the nation now are enormous since they had been designed to reap the benefits of economies of scale. Many are at the verge of shutting in the subsequent decade, mainly because they cannot compete with cheap natural gas and renewable power.
To answer this dilemma, “we have developed economies of small,” says Jose Reyes, chief know-how officer, and co-founder of NuScale.
As an alternative of one massive nuclear reactor, Reyes says his firm will string collectively an array of as much as 12 smaller reactors. They’d be built in a manufacturing unit and transported by truck to a site that might be prepared at the same time.
“You are making your [reactor] pool and all that stuff on-site,” says Reyes. “In parallel, you are manufacturing the modules, after which that cuts the building time to about half.”
NuScale says it additionally has simplified how the plants are controlled in ways in which make them safer.
The 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan occurred when a tsunami destroyed the emergency turbines that cooled the reactors and spent fuel, resulting in reactor meltdowns.
“We have tested methods the projects have failed up till now and tried to avoid these sort of failure techniques from our design,” says Karin Feldman, vice chairman for the corporate’s Program Management Office.
NuScale’s design will not rely upon pumps or turbines that would fail in an emergency; thus it uses passive cooling. The reactors could be in a containment vessel, underground and in a massive pool of water that may soak up heat.
This signifies that even a reactor that fails would still be safeguarded. “It would not require any additional water,” says Feldman. “It does not require AC or DC supply. It does not require any operator motion. And it may keep in that protected configuration as long as required.”