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  • Writer's pictureTom Mast

Small Modular Reactors (SMR)

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

Nuclear energy has not been given the attention it deserves in the Climate Change fight! It doesn’t produce greenhouse gases, is not intermittent like wind and solar, does not require batteries, and can produce large amounts of climate friendly energy to replace hydrocarbon fuels. #climatechange

Nuclear plants around the world now are fission reactors. They do leave dangerous waste material that lasts a very long time, but despite a few highly publicized incidents worldwide, their overall safety record is excellent. Generally, these plants are very large, so large in fact that equipment no longer exists in the USA to fabricate or transport the biggest components, primarily forgings.

A newer concept in fission power is Small Modular Reactors. As the name makes clear, these are much smaller than the major power plants that exist, use components that can be made in factories and transported easily, and are modular in that from one to ten of them can be grouped to create a plant of just the needed capacity and cost. Some designs can shut down safely with no electrical power for cooling, and they can be built below ground level. SMRs particularly fit the upcoming needs of undeveloped countries that combined will be demanding energy in huge quantities in coming decades, thereby being a major concern in the climate change battle if they have to use fossil fuels for power. Intensive research has been taking place for years in the USA among government agencies and industries and also elsewhere around the world. The Wall Street Journal wrote recently about utility companies considering reequipping old coal plants with SMRs and using their electrical distribution infrastructure. Bloomberg reported on December 21, 2021 that China first SMR is now feeding power to the grid. The SMR technology is well known, and its roll out into commercial use could and should be accelerated. Adapted from: Small Modular Reactors by Daniel T. Ingersoll.

The second technology of nuclear power is fusion reactors. Research has been underway for years, and the technical issues are quite difficult. However, progress is being made. Fusion reactors have the potential to produce huge amounts of power with no long-lasting waste. Research should be pressed forward on fusion.


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