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GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions sign agreement on small modular reactor technology

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC, (SRNS) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore the potential of deploying a prototype of GEH’s Generation IV PRISM reactor as part of a proposed demonstration of small modular reactor (SMR) technologies at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site.

PRISM power block. Click to enlarge.

The MOU sets the stage for continued discussions on the potential NRC licensing and deployment of a 299-megawatt PRISM reactor at the federally owned facility. SRNS is the management and operating contractor for DOE at Savannah River Site (SRS).

The DOE is supporting the development and deployment of SMRs for the domestic market, and plans to establish an SMR program, with a target of FY2011. DOE defines an SMR as producing less than 350 MWe. (Earlier post.)

The PRISM reactor design, which completed US Nuclear Regulatory Commission pre-application reviews in 1994, is an advanced, Generation IV reactor technology that builds on research and development of sodium-cooled reactors. A key attribute of PRISM technology is that it generates additional electricity from recycling used nuclear fuel.



If the GOP can get Yucca Mountain finally opened up and accepting waste, as directed by congress in the early 80's, maybe this kind of nuclear technology (and other innovative new designs) will take off.

Coke Machine


Coke Machine

ejj, Well said. Yucca mountain can easily store all of our high level waste after the reprocessing and recovery of still usable transuranics. There needs to be a massive building of nuclear reactors in this country. I'm talking about a 1000 or more. Place them near other facilities that can use the waste heat, such as refining facilities for ethanol, or other industries. For cooling you can pump water through a R/O filter to get clean drinking water and use the brine waste to cool the plant's closed circuit cooling system and then either extract concentrated minerals from the brine (before or after cooling)or pump it 50 miles out to sea. Have a problem with earthquakes in California and don't want a nuke plant on a fault, gret, stick it on a boat, the navy's been doing it for 60 years. There should be ways for a boat to pull up to a port, plug directly into the grid and water supply and start making all three, power, hot water, and fresh water.


I dunno. It looks to me that reactors which can use spent LWR fuel gain as long as Yucca Mountain is blocked, because they don't add to the total material to be stored.


This hopefully makes more sense than the guaranteed multi-times over-run custom gigawatt plants.


E-P has a good point. How many of these could be operated (and for how long) before we run out of spent LWR?

USA will need more nuclear power plants.

Are smaller units more manageable, more acceptable and more cost effective?


I don't know about locating reactors close to refineries. Refineries have a habit of blowing up every so often.


A reactor building which can shrug off an impact from an airplane at 500 MPH won't have issues with a refinery explosion.

Or just put it underground. It's not like reactors are all that big.


There is a huge amount of unspent fuel, not just nuclear waste. When you include the depleted uranium that can also be recycled in a IFR it represents hundreds of years of power. Smaller reactors are able to be standardized and built in factories that can drive down costs by leveraging manufacturing efficiencies. This is really good news.


Mass production (similar to Liberty ships) of small transportable modular reactors may be the way to accelerated nuclear power plants construction.

Yes, underground reactors may be safer and more acceptable to many.

A 1000 modular transportable reactor program could be carried out in a few years with 2 to 4 renovated factories.

Who will decide? Who has the guts to get involved?

Large firms like GE, Westinghouse, major oil, gas and electricity production groups etc could be mandated to do it. The top 50 billionaires could each invest 2 to 5$B to get the project rolling or finance part of it.


Opposition to nuclear power is based on many valid reasons but this new approach dissolves many of those arguments. I support building some of these, immediately, to prove the technology.


If they build a complete powerplant on a ship, the objections to 'deploy' a nuclear powerplant in a harbor will be much lower than for building a classical powerplant, since the ship can be removed whenever you want. Moreover, desalination can be done with the wasteheat of the powerplant.

Naval powerplants can produce renewable liquid fuels by combining localy produced H2 with seawater-extracted CO2.
(DARPA is designing such plants)
The ship can be located far away from the coast, so nobody can see it.

This can be a nuclearwaste-to-liquids strategy.
Enormous potential.

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