Boston based start-up has developed a small scale nuclear reactor, or a nuclear thermal battery as they call it, which has the potential to produce enough electricity to power 2,000 homes. It can function on multiple fuel sources, and its waste can be reused.
Nuclear power plants did not live up to everyone’s expectations and deliver the ultimate renewable energy that was once expected to replace fossil fuels. There are three main reasons for this, which are as much of a concern now as they were at the introduction of nuclear power. These include the huge investments that companies had to put into constructing reactors and plants, the safety concerns and the disposal of nuclear waste.
The founders of the American start-up company UPower Technologies, however, claim to have found the solution to all of the above. They designed a small scale nuclear reactor, also refer to as a plug-and-play nuclear thermal battery, which can be sent to any location in a normal-sized shipping container. Once it reaches the desired destination, the customers can use it as a stand-alone electricity generator, or they can chose to connect it to a steam turbine, or even a jet engine.
The nuclear battery technology is much smaller and therefore cheaper than a reactor for a nuclear power plant. It is estimated to be able to produce around 2MW of electricity. The makers explain that this would be enough to supply power to roughly 2,000 homes in a remote village, or to power military bases and industrial operations. The nuclear battery runs equally well on thorium, uranium and even recycled fuel, which means that the half life of the waste can be greatly reduced. In addition, the makers claim that used fuel can be processed and reused in another reactor.
The guys from UPower Technologies see their product hitting the market in the coming five years. As it stands right now, they are anticipating regulatory approval.
Today (August 19), the makers will be demonstrating their technology at the Y Combinator’s Demo Day.
Image (c) Reuters