Babcock and Wilcox, a Lynchburg, VA – based company made nuclear reactors for US Navy ships for about 50 years. Now, as any military-acquired technology, this one is slowly moving into civilian ground, as the same Babcock and Wilcox proposes the fabrication of modular, smaller nuclear generation units for use especially in poorer countries. The idea doesn’t seem bad – after all, anyone could use those “portable” reactors, mount/dismount them at will, without all the hassle of investing and building a standard nuclear facility, whose timeline from the start of the construction to the actual generation of usable power can exceed five years. And let’s not talk about the financial risks – each classic nuclear power plant can cost $9 billion or more, says Andrew Kadak, a nuclear engineering professor from MIT.
The modular nuclear reactors Babcock and Wilcox propose are to be built in factories and transported to the usage site using railcars (4.5-meter-wide, 23-meter-long) – much less time consuming than on-site building. Each reactor would generate about 150 MW of electricity, and even though it’s a little more expensive to build them, the financial risks are much lowered. Other companies, such as NuScale, also has a design for a small modular system that can be built in factories and shipped to power plants. Those reactors would generate only about 40 megawatts each.
So, there are solutions to everything in every aspect, we just have to give attention to them and invest in wise projects wisely. What’s your opinion on this kind of technology?
[via technology review]