Small Nuclear Reactor Is Easier to Cool and Protect
"A rendering of a smaller nuclear reactor being developed by Babcock & Wilcox for the Tennessee Valley Authority." Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.
(p. B6) "WASHINGTON -- The Tennessee Valley Authority will pay Babcock & Wilcox, a nuclear equipment company, to complete extensive design work and apply for permission to build a new kind of nuclear plant, a "small modular reactor," at a site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the T.V.A. and the company announced . . . .
The two entities did not disclose the value of the contract, which will be paid in part by the Energy Department under a program to encourage nuclear innovation. The announcement is a step forward in a program that advocates hope will develop a new class of nuclear plants that can be mostly built in a factory, shipped by rail or barge, deployed quickly, and sold around the world, especially in places where the power grid could not handle a big plant.
"This technology is very different," said Joe Hoagland, a senior vice president of the T.V.A. "It has built-in safety features and security features, so you can site it at places you wouldn't site a large reactor."
Because the reactors are relatively small, the idea is that in an emergency they can be cooled with the natural circulation of water and heat, rather than by systems that require pumps and valves and that could be disabled by power failures or human errors. The goal for Babcock & Wilcox is a reactor that can be operated by a relatively small control room crew, perhaps two operators, and meet security requirements with fewer guards."
For the full story, see:
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date February 20, 2013.)