Senators back mini-nuke

Murkowski: nukes not minks
Murkowski: nukes not minks

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 — The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee issued the following news release:
Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Udall (D-CO) today introduced legislation to direct the Department of Energy to develop innovative, low-cost nuclear reactors. The Nuclear Power 2021 Act (S.2812) proposes a program to design and certify small modular reactors (< 300 megawatts) which can be built and operated in combination with similar reactors at a single site.

The National Academy of Sciences and numerous other study groups have identified nuclear energy as a promising and essential technical option for meeting our future electricity needs while lowering our overall emissions of greenhouse gases.

Sen. Bingaman: “The climate change problem we face today is too large to exclude any one technology that can produce energy without emitting carbon dioxide. The National Academy’s report acknowledges the important role that nuclear energy must play in a carbon-constrained energy world; this bill is another step to address some of the recommendations of this report.”

Sen. Murkowski: “Small reactors could broaden the application of nuclear energy while also serving as a reliable low-carbon power source for remote and off-grid energy needs such as those in Alaska. In addition, as we look for a global solution to climate change small nuclear reactors could benefit those countries who are interested in nuclear power, but whose electricity grid does not have the capacity to integrate the amount of power a larger reactor would provide. Our bill will provide the impetus to make the development, licensing and deployment of small reactors a priority.”

Sen. Udall: “We need an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to address our energy challenges. Nuclear plants hold enormous potential because they are among the few low-carbon, large-scale sources of baseload power that we know how to build today. This bill will help the Department of Energy develop new ways to make nuclear energy as cost-efficient, safe and secure as possible.”

Smaller reactors can be less capital intensive than the larger 1000-megawatt reactors currently being licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They also have the potential to be built in a modular and step-wise fashion. Under the Bingaman-Murkowski-Udall bill, the Federal effort would be cost-shared with the private sector and selected under a competitive merit review process that emphasizes efficiency, cost, safety and proliferation resistance.


3 Responses

  1. Australia needs this tecnology.

    Hyperion type mini reactors can be “clipped onto” existing coal fired power plants. Low capital cost. Existing grids/staff/other infrastructure. No need for Nuclear Plant Operators…none available in Australia.

    LTC (Low Temperature Conversion) plants can be added to process brown coal from existing coal mines into Diesile, Kerosine and petro chem products. Clean carbon residue from LTC process can be burt in existing power plant furnaces during economic life run down of same. (Followed at a later date by hydogenation of clean carbon residue to produce petro chems.)

    Organic agricultural wastes (wheat straw, sugar cane trash, feed lot trash, prunings, weeds), bush fire fuel load reductions, city garbage, and commercial forestry trash such as prunings, bark, off cuts, sawdust and shavings can also be processed in these LTC plants.

  2. I think rather than fund one dime, all we really need to do is allow for some limited companies that specialize in this to e allowed to be research. But I don’t believe we should be using our tax dollars to pay for private corporation research.

    #1 I agree with your statement, small towns could really benefit from this advancement.

    Anyway, interesting article.

  3. I know most people who want to live “off-grid” are probably rugged individualists, but I like to think of all of those wonderful small towns that are not well connected to the grid.

    There is a town in Alaska, for example, named Galena. It is interested in replacing its current “off-grid” power source, which consists of aging diesel generators that burn fuel brought by barge during the summer months and stored in very large tanks left over from when the US Air Force maintained an active base there.

    Toshiba is working with the town to be the initial host of a 10 MWe nuclear power system that is designed to run for at least 30 years without any new fuel. That kind of development would enable off-grid towns to be a completely different and cleaner kind of place.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

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