The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has declared NuScale Power Corp’s small nuclear design adequate to survive Earthquakes, Reuters reports. The NRC is the federal agency that oversees civilian nuclear power in the United States.

The US Department of Defense (DOD) could take delivery of a portable nuclear reactor in 2024.

The DOD’s Office of Strategic Capabilities gave BWX Technologies Inc (NYSE: BWXT) a $300 million contract to build a portable nuclear reactor, Interesting Engineering reports. The DOD hopes to test the Mobile Microreactor at the Idaho National Laboratory in 2024 as part of Project Pele.

One Mobile Microreactor could generate between one and five megawatts (one million to five million watts) of electricity, a DOD press release states. The BWXT Mobile Microreactor will be the first Generation Four reactor built in the United States. The first Generation Four Reactor began operation in China in September 2021.

The BWXT device will be a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) that they transport in cargo containers. Hence, they could haul the microreactor in a container on a truck, a railroad car, or a ship.

Support teams from the Department of Energy and the US Army Corps of Engineers will assemble and test the reactor. Project Pele is an effort to build a mobile nuclear reactor for the military.

Why does the Pentagon Want a Mobile Nuclear Reactor?

America’s commanders want a mobile microreactor because of the military’s growing need for electricity. I suspect the generals fear an enemy could cut American forces off from sources of fossil fuels or electricity in a future war.

For example, drones destroy could destroy all the tankers hauling diesel fuel to troops in the field. News reports claim Russian offensives in the Ukraine collapsed after drones cut supply lines.

The hope is that the Army can haul the microreactor with a semitractor or a cargo plane. Once in position, the microreactor could generate power for electric vehicles, eliminating the need for refueling vehicles in the field. One advantage to that is the military could use the vehicles now used to haul fuel to move munitions or additional troops.

Other uses for the Mobile Microreactor could be to power military bases and provide emergency power to cities. Additionally, the Microreactor could replace coal, oil, or natural gas burning power plants and reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gases.

BWX Technologies Inc. is a Lynchburg, Virginia, company that builds nuclear reactors for navy ships, commercial nuclear fuel, commercial nuclear components, and strategic nuclear services. BWXT is working with several major companies, including Rolls-Royce and Northrop Grumman (NOC) on small nuclear reactors, Utility Drive claims.

Small Scale Nuclear Reactor Gets Federal Approval

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has declared NuScale Power Corp’s small nuclear design adequate to survive Earthquakes, Reuters reports. The NRC is the federal agency that oversees civilian nuclear power in the United States.

NuScale hopes to build and test several small modular reactors at the Idaho National Laboratory by 2029, Reuters notes. The NRC’s approval could make it easier to get small modular reactors built in the United States.

Small Reactors could be dirtier than big reactors 

Small nuclear reactors could create more problems than their promoters claim. For example, small modular reactors could create 35 times more low-level nuclear waste than a large conventional reactor, Stanford University researchers told the New Scientist. The researchers used data from NuScale in their study, New Scientist reports.

 

In addition, small modular reactors could generate more complex nuclear waste that is harder to dispose of, Stanford researcher Lindsay Krall alleges. Thus, small modular reactors could create more safety problems by creating enormous amounts of radioactive waste.

 

Hence, there could be more pollution from small modular reactors and more waste to dispose of. A related problem is more materials for dirty bombs. A dirty bomb is a package of radioactive waste built around an explosive. Dirty bomb builders hope the explosion will spread radiation.

 

Small modular reactors and mobile microreactors are here and could present some dangers. However, I think the benefits of small modular reactors (generating lots of electricity without greenhouse gases) outweigh the potential dangers.

Originally published at https://marketmadhouse.com on June 14, 2022.

 

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Small nuclear reactors could create more problems than their promoters claim. For example, small modular reactors could create 35 times more low-level nuclear waste than a large conventional reactor, Stanford University researchers told the New Scientist. The researchers used data from NuScale in their study, New Scientist reports.
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