These small nuclear reactors could be the future of clean energy
These small nuclear reactors could be the future of clean energy
7:46

These small nuclear reactors could be the future of clean energy

Tech Industry
Speaker 1: This is a nuclear reactor, but it is not your regular nuclear reactor. It's a small modular reactor and the company behind it called new scale wants to revolutionize clean energy by providing simpler, cheaper, and safer nuclear power. Is that even possible? Let's take a look. Speaker 1: A small modular reactor SMR [00:00:30] is generally defined as an advanced reactor that produces up to 300 megawats of electricity per module. They can be deployed alone or as part of a plant several models and are designed to be built in factories and shape, whatever they're needed for the final installation. A bigger nuclear reactor may be more cost effective, but some markets don't have the grid or the capital to support a traditional power plant. A small reactor may make [00:01:00] sense in smaller or more remote areas that want a educated power supply. That is not a fossil fuel. Right now, there are around 50 designs and concepts for this kind of technology around the globe, including a few in the us new skills. SMR is the first one to receive BIS design approval from the us nuclear regulatory commission. Their modules are 76 feet tall, 15 feet in diameter, and [00:01:30] can generate 77 megawats of electricity. These reactors can be combined in power plants with four, six or 12 individual modules. This is a oil and common gig size nuclear facilities, but the idea is that this scalable model can be deployed in a much faster and cheaper way. Jose regs, the CEO and co-founder of a company, and one of the designers list, some of the advantages Speaker 2: It's all factory manufacturer. [00:02:00] Uh, so that means we can actually build the module in a factory. And then you do the construction at the, at the site at the civil construction, uh, in parallel. So instead of a five year construction period, we look immediately at a three year construction period. So it's a greatly reduced construction period. Uh, it gives you greater financial certainty because, uh, you know exactly how, how, how, and when the modules will be built and delivered. Uh, and it also provides a lot of flexibility, which we don't have in the nuclear power industry today. Uh, so being able to load follow, [00:02:30] uh, wind and solar, for example, uh, we, we built that capability into our Speaker 1: Design. Nuclear does not generate carbon emissions, and this is key. The concerns of our climate change are becoming more pressing and nuclear provides an energy without the emissions that come with other sources, such as coal or oil or natural gas, and why it's true that wind and solar have become more and more affordable in recent years. It's unclear that transitioning to 100% renewable [00:03:00] energy is feasible. At least in the short term experts definitely disagree. Let's get some background here at the end of 2020, the us had 94 operating commercial nuclear reactors with an average H of about 39 years. That means the they're getting old in recent years. Several plants have been retired and the newer projects are not something that you would call exactly successful in 2017. The [00:03:30] construction of two new reactors in South Carolina stopped after years of the Las. And overcasts another two plant reactors in Georgia are still under construction, but they have also accumulated delays in cost over runs. Speaker 1: And nuclear is still a very polarizing subject. A poll this year by the peer research center showed that most Americans say that reducing the effects of climate change needs to be at top priority and in a [00:04:00] majority favor, expanding solar and wind, when it comes to nuclear support, an opposition go almost half and half safety is one of the main concerns. And it's not an unreasonable one. If you remember the Fukushima and novel disasters or here in the us, the three mile island accident, going back to small modular reactors and to new scale fors who also work for nearly 10 years as a research engineer in the reactor safety [00:04:30] division of the us nuclear regulatory commission says that this has been a main part of their design and that the smaller size also helps Speaker 2: The under the worst case conditions. Uh, the reactors will safely shut down without any operator action, uh, without the need for any AC or DC power. Uh, and it'll remain cooled for an unlimited period of time, uh, without the need to add water. Uh, so that's a huge breakthrough in, in the, uh, industry. And we're the first ones, uh, to do that [00:05:00] in terms of the commercial, the power industry, let's, let's say something does happen. You have a one in a billion year event of what would happen to the plant and what would happen to the surroundings. And what we found was that under those worst case conditions, you know, once in a billion year event, that you damage your fuel, uh, we don't exceed the regulatory doses at the site boundary. So instead of the large 10 mile rate radius around the plant, which is typically, uh, required for a emergency planning zone, we're at the fence, we're at the site, boundary Speaker 1: Waste [00:05:30] is the other main concern. And one that hasn't been fully solved, although the total amount is relatively small, compared to the energy produced, used fuel can actually be reused, but part of fit will still need to be stored and disposed safely. Of course, convincing regulators is one thing, but the general public is another internationally, the situation and the view store nuclear vary a lot country by country. And some places like Germany already decided [00:06:00] years ago that they would stop using it in the us president violence administration has expressed support for nuclear as an element to meet its climate calls. The department of energy has specifically supported the development of modular reactors. The reactions are varied thought. Allen is a professor and chair of the nuclear engineering department at the university of Michigan, an Speaker 3: Engineer saying my system is safe and [00:06:30] a community saying they're happy having the system. There are two totally different questions, right? So I think that has to be proven on also. Um, and if people get comfortable with the fact that small reactors have a different hazard, then you might see them in more places. So I think every country's gonna be different, but I would say compared to 20 years ago, I think more of them are willing to think about nuclear. I think the fact that SMRs are moving towards deployment, [00:07:00] um, will bring some people, some countries into that discussion Speaker 1: Right now, new scale is looking at 2029 to see its first SMR power planting operation in Idaho falls. This is part of an initiative led by the UDAs associate municipal power systems, but the company in conversations with other entities and possible customers, not only here but around the world, so this could potentially happen sooner. So what are your thoughts [00:07:30] on nuclear and small modular reactors? Is this how we solve climate change? Leave your thoughts in the comments and take it for more video of.

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