[ExI] Are mini nuclear power stations the way forward?
pharos at gmail.com
Wed Mar 16 14:04:02 UTC 2011
On Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 1:40 PM, Richard Loosemore wrote:
> I fear this is not a good alternative. Scientific American, among others,
> have already pointed out that these things could just be cracked open and
> used as christmas presents for wannabe terrorists.
This is one of the obvious problems to be included in the risk analysis.
Hyperion’s Mr Deal insists that neither a rocket-propelled grenade nor
a tank round could smash a small reactor. Small reactors can be
shielded by a heavy layer of concrete and buried, in effect making
them safer than big ones, whose protective concrete domes can only be
so thick, lest they collapse under their own weight.
I think it might also be considered a rather risky activity to smash
into a nuclear reactor. :)
There is also a proposed design which (if it works) avoids the nuclear
TerraPower, an American firm backed by Bill Gates, thinks it has the
solution. It is working with Toshiba to design a small reactor based
on a “travelling wave” design. Once kick-started with a tiny amount of
enriched uranium, it would run for decades on non-enriched, depleted
uranium, a widely available material. This will be possible because
the nuclear reaction, eating its way through the core at the rate of
about one centimetre a year, would gradually convert the depleted
uranium into fissionable plutonium—in effect “breeding” high-grade
fuel and then consuming it.
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