The Observer newspaper in London has followed up on this story with a major news report written by Nick Rosen and Jon Vidal. 24 hours after publication it was the 5th most popular item on the web site of parent newspaper The Guardian. Read on:
A miniature nuclear power station costing $25m and capable of powering a sizeable community is being prepared for launch. US company Hyperion Power Generation says it will produce up to 4000 of its “low yield” Uranium Hydride reactors in the first production run starting June 2013.
Hyperion claims over 100 firm orders for the plants, largely from the oil and electricity industries, but says it is also targeting the “off-grid market” and that its reactor could power an entire community of up to 10,000 typical American homes for 8-10 years. “Our goal is to generate electricity for 10cents a watt anywhere in the world,” said John “Grizz” Deal, Chief Executive of Hyperion.
Conceived at Los Alamos National Laboratory, think of the power station as a nuclear battery, containing no weapons grade material. It is modeled on the little known Triga nuclear reactor, of which over 60 have already been built, for use by scientific institutions and universities for purposes such as graduate education, commercial research,and isotope production. The Triga was developed to be a reactor that, in the words of Frederic de Hoffmann, head of General Atomics which made most of them, was designed to be “safe even in the hands of a young graduate student.” Edward Teller headed the group of young nuclear physicists who designed the reactor in San Diego in the 1950s.
“It was designed by a bunch of government scientists who were worried about proliferation,” said Deal. “It has a lot of active and passive security systems built into it. It would take several days to get to this reactor,” he said.
The government owned research lab at Los Alamos has licensed the technology to Hyperion and remains a “small shareholder.” The reactor continues to be tested at Los Alamos, and Hyperion is the beneficiary of the previous”$200m research budget and $150m in materials,” said Deal. The venture is already fully funded with backing from Denver-based energy investors, Altira Group. “We will get to market for less than a hundred million dollars,” said Deal.
Each Triga was individually hand crafted. But Hyperion’s version, which has yet to move off the drawing board, will be mass-produced. “We already have a pipeline for 100 reactors and we are taking our time to tool up to mass produce this reactor,” said Deal “It’s a very different process to mass produce than to build just one. We have been very careful that what we are doing is scalable and that we can produce from one to 4000.” Deal said the technology had huge potential for underdeveloped countries. “Its leapfrog technology,” he said.
“We are getting calls every day from all over the world,” said Deal. The first confirmed order came from TES a Czech Republic infrastructure company, specializing in water plants and power plants. They ordered 6 units and optioned a further dozen. “We are very sure of their capability to purchase,” said Deal
The reactors measure only a few meters in diameter, and will be buried underground before use. Once the power is spent a unit will be removed by the company and replaced.
“The design is to keep the waste and the steam contained – you could never have a Chernobyl type event –there are no moving parts,” said Deal.
“Temperature-wise it’s too hot to handle. It would be like stealing a barbeque with your bare hands,” he added.
“We use a very low enriched Uranium – you could use ten of these babies, and you would still have ten separate devices – you would need nation state resources in order to enrich our uranium.
“Some security measures we cannot disclose for security reasons,” said Deal. “I am not Mr Burns from the Simpsons,” he added.
“Our first installation is just under five years away in Romania,” he said. “Then it follows really quickly in a bunch of island nations and US protectorates in the Pacific. We now have a six-year waiting list.” The company is in talks with developers in the Cayman Islands, Panama and the Bahamas.
“My dance card isn’t nearly full,” Deal said. “We have lots of opportunity to work with people.”
Oh good grief this is not uranium it is thorium an entirely different technology. Google thorium and read about the element before going into the usual fear mongering manta.
I wonder if they’ll start installing these into cruise ships. Maybe even large boats and yachts. I’d love to put one of these into my 60′ catamaran. No more diesel, clean or not!
BTW Nuclear FTW. New waste cleanup tech could be as simple as cleaning a cat box. A VERY large cat box. What would remain is an inert sulfide powder or cake. Check out flexible framework sulfide.
You could then reform the sulfide into windmills or solar panels! Recycled!
THE FRENCH DO IT
The French have about 87.5% of their power from nuclear. They use (some) breeder reactors and vitrify the unusable waste. This means they reprocess as much as 2/3rds of their nuclear waste for use again. They have the lowest carbon footprint in Europe. They build the plants next to schools and populated areas.
Our raging environmentalists, you know, the ones who drive big SUV’s, eat large steaks and send money to Green Peace have literally stopped nuclear power in the U.S. To them, NIMBY is the key. They want power, but just “not close” to them. They would be fully satisfied with plants in Mexico, as long as they don’t have to “see” them.
Do you get the hypocrasy? I do.
I have eaten vegan vegetarian for 15 years, drive a Prius and have a total household energy-use bill of less than $135/month. Yet I completely support nuclear power. My carbon footprint is 1/8th of most “environmentalists.”
Well, Doctor Aaron Mich, we need to have a quick discussion; nuclear power is remarkably clean compared to the alternatives. When you place it next to coal, natural gas or even the ecological costs of a new hydro development, the actual damage caused by the storage of this waste material is minimal compared to either the carbon footprint of coal or gas, or the massive industrial undertaking that is a dam.
Note that they make no claim in this article that this is “clean” or “renewable”, nor more so than nuclear power would claim. Clean power means you can handle the outputs; we can seal and store nuclear waste indefinitely in concrete and glass (a temporary solution, yes, but ) but attempting to capture CO2 from the common sources, or the industrial waste from the production of solar panels is a process that isn’t practical. That said, the rollout on a large-scale distributed generation system, that which would be required to use solar, wind and hydro power by far rivals the cost of producing even a full scale nuclear reactor; the shift to distributed power can only occur over a length of time and the $25m packed and sealed reactor is a good way to hedge our electric bets on the way to clean power.
And of course, this reactor isn’t massive (considering) and doesn’t require any specialized landscape; from the sounds of things, you could put this thing pretty much anywhere, just buried seems like the best option.
I am so frustrated that we are still debating over this type of nuclear nonsense.
I have one more thing to say about this nuclear debate. If you guys want to write an article about it please tell us the whole story. what is your plan for the nuclear waste that comes from these plants. You make it sound so clean and renewable when it’s really not. you hide far too many facts about nuclear waste just like all the other countries. and as for Mr. Peterson why don’t you use your intelligence to create some type of new sustainable, clean, nontoxic, no byproduct, no waste product energy. Then you would impress me. Otherwise you’re just one of the overpaid in the box waste of talent.
Well John to answer your question. The 4000 plants that need to dispose of their extremely toxic and unmanageable spent rods. Paul Revere will surely take them because he is much brighter than all of us. Nuclear power is not clean energy. Please get that through your head everybody. Sure it doesn’t give off toxic waste while it’s creating energy. But when you need to change out the spent rods and get rid of the nuclear waste. There is one of the biggest environmental hazards on the planet people. Please think before you speak. Nobody wants to deal with nuclear waste. There are many other clean renewable energy sources that don’t have a byproduct of the most toxic thing on the planet.
and disposal of the spent rods from 4000 plants?? who’s back yard do they go into?
cizzi, you are not too bright. You aren’t that shining light you think you are. From what I understand, these local power plants can’t become “critical” like you saw in that movie and what drives your “critical thinking”. I bet you approve of the government “fixing” global warming. They will fix us and mass starvation will ensue when the ice age comes, and the next ice age is inevitable by the way.
It may be a good ‘part’ of the solution :)
I do not approve of nuclear power because of the inherit dangers of it. There are clean and efficient sources like sun,wind and water that generate power without considerable risks. Thats my personal opinion.