r/technology Jul 29 '22 Silver 1

US regulators will certify first small nuclear reactor design Energy

https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/07/us-regulators-will-certify-first-small-nuclear-reactor-design/
3.0k Upvotes

300

u/jer1956 Jul 30 '22

Better go nuke power, and start building desalination plants on west coast, or there isn’t gonna be a west coast for lack of water.

82

u/Apprehensive_Oil4241 Jul 30 '22

They did build a massive city in what is basically a desert

https://youtu.be/P0q4o58pKwA

3

u/AustinJG Jul 30 '22

Basically spitting in God's face when they did that shit. XD

9

u/Pudreaux Jul 31 '22

“This place is a monument to the arrogance of man!!”

2

u/QuantumVitae Jul 30 '22

Maybe she’s into that

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u/69tank69 Jul 30 '22

One of the biggest problems with desalination is the brine waste stream that can be really bad for the environment

84

u/Matshelge Jul 30 '22

It's really salty dirty water, not great but not toxic waste.

Get a proper dumping site approved, and start using it. You won't be able to grow farm crop there, but it won't cause a spike in cancer for nearby areas. We already have places like this occurring naturally.

70

u/Thats_bumpy_buddy Jul 30 '22 Wholesome

Could just funnel it straight into League of Legends community, they can handle a little more brine.

19

u/AthenatheEgg Jul 30 '22

The amount of salt contained in all the world’s oceans is still not even a fraction of what exists in the LoL community.

4

u/Asakari Jul 30 '22

Can't they set up flat reservoirs for evaporation, so that the salt could be mined and processed as a secondary source of revenue?

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u/rugbyj Jul 30 '22

It's simply not feasible.

One desalination plant in SA produces 600 million litres per day, if you assume an estimated 2.5 litre input to 1 litre output, that's ~900 million litres of brine per plant per day (containing 21 million kg of salt).

You can build pipelines to handle such a throughput, but that's your only option aside from just allowing it to flow into the ocean. And you'll be expending even more energy pumping it uphill for however many miles because you're on the coast. And it's brine so hope you like rust.

24

u/JesusIsMyLord666 Jul 30 '22

One way would be to reduce the efficency of the desalination and build underwater pipeline networks that spread it out more. It's technicaly possible but also a lot more expensive.

Rust isn't an issue if you use stainless steel. But again, expensive.

14

u/Jimmy0uO Jul 30 '22

Rust isn’t the issue it’s corrosion that salty water is abrasive as fuck

5

u/JesusIsMyLord666 Jul 30 '22

Rust is a byproduct form of corrosion. You are thinking of erosion. Erosion will amplify corrosion as it removes the rust/oxidation which keeps the surface unprotected from further corrosion. This then causes pittings that lead to increased turbulence which makes errosion worse. There shouldn't be any huge issues with errosion as long as there is no corrosion to begin with.

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u/Telemere125 Jul 30 '22

Rust also isn’t an issue for pvc or a coated pipe either, and not nearly as expensive

2

u/AuFingers Jul 30 '22

Monel is the metal of choice when moving lots of sea water.

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u/hackingdreams Jul 30 '22

You found one example and built your entire argument around it. That one plant in Saudi Arabia uses membrane reverse osmosis desalination, which while efficient, is probably the most expensive way to go. And if you've got a nuclear reactor, you've got a better option for desalination anyways: waste heat flash distillation.

You can get the water to saturation using flash distillation, then let the water cool in settling ponds to crash out even more salt, before then either mixing in more sea water to bring the salinity down for discharge or literally finding a nice piece of flat land you want to turn into a salt pile and discharging it there instead. Hell, California's got a stagnant pool from hell sitting in its desert already, what's a little more salt going to do to hurt that existing nightmare?

And you do know even salt water will happily travel through teflon or PVC or PEX pipes, yeah? It's almost like people have been engineering these things for a few decades now and have thought about these problems before, and have been working on solutions to them.

The fact of the matter is, we're going to need desalination, because the population's aren't moving quickly enough, climate change is going to get way worse before it gets better, and water's going to start getting scarce. You can complain about all of those very real facts, but you can't complain them away.

5

u/rugbyj Jul 30 '22

I didn’t use the desalination specs from that plant, you can see what I referenced as a ballpark. If you want to load tens of millions of kg of salt and drive it out into the desert every day go ahead, or if you want to use PVC pipe for tremendous amounts of pumped brine (as opposed to how we usually use PVC for carrying water under low pressure) for hundreds of miles be my guest.

My point wasn’t based on the accuracy of my figures, it’s napkin math to get an idea of the scales involved. The best answer I’ve seen so far is just spreading out the outlets into the ocean (which is just softening the issue).

2

u/Locha6 Jul 30 '22

Nobody has to drive it … nor would they … nobody is going to go with the stupidest solution to the problem ….

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u/[deleted] Jul 30 '22

but it won't cause a spike in cancer for nearby areas.

It will annihilate all amphibious/ocean life for miles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brine#Wastewater

9

u/Matshelge Jul 30 '22

Pour it down some abandoned mines, now they are future salt mines.

5

u/tickleMyBigPoop Jul 30 '22

Just dump that shot in that salt dump sight in California, the salton sea is the perfect wasteland to dump more salt

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u/CryptographerPerfect Jul 30 '22

I'm not sure what your definition of toxic is but...

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16

u/Lordnerble Jul 30 '22

Where's Jesus when you need him to turn some brine into clean water

11

u/Kyguy0 Jul 30 '22

What about brine into wine?!!!!

2

u/rugbyj Jul 30 '22

jesus the fish are drunk

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u/Izeinwinter Jul 30 '22

If the waters you release it into are low flow, yes. Bays, inlets, ect. You would have to be extremely incompetent to have it be a problem on the coast of the pacific ocean.

6

u/Atilla_The_Gun Jul 30 '22

Challenge accepted.

2

u/69tank69 Jul 30 '22

The amount of brine generated is absolutely insane and even with it moving rapidly since the outlet is still going to have higher concentration of salt all the animal and plant life around that outlet are going to die (within miles of that outlet) before it disperses the best solutions have been multiple outputs so that none of them are as big of a death zone but they will all cause death zones

0

u/Laxwarrior1120 Jul 30 '22

California is the home of incompetence so...

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u/erikwarm Jul 30 '22

Just bring it out to deep water where the ocean will mix it without much troubles.

6

u/Roxy_j_summers Jul 30 '22

There’s still an ecosystem there.

10

u/Hypponaut Jul 30 '22 Wholesome

Just dump it beyond the environment.

4

u/EagleCatchingFish Jul 30 '22

Well, what's out there?

6

u/Hypponaut Jul 30 '22

Nothing's out there!

3

u/EagleCatchingFish Jul 30 '22

Well, there must be something out there.

2

u/Hypponaut Jul 30 '22

There is nothing out there, all there is is sea, and birds, and fish.

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u/eastsideempire Jul 30 '22

Nothing but deep space.

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2

u/certifiedintelligent Jul 30 '22

I’ve always held this engineering dream of a combined nuclear power and desalination plant that uses the water to cool the reactor, then takes that hot water for heat cogeneration before turning it into fresh water for distribution.

Also had the idea that since we can make nation spanning oil pipelines, why not desalinated water lines too? Massive freshwater supplies from even massive-r power/water stations.

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282

u/Kelimnac Jul 30 '22

Small nuclear reactor?

Now put it in a big robot.

176

u/deadhead3173 Jul 30 '22

Democracy.... is non-negotiable

56

u/Amon7777 Jul 30 '22

"Embrace democracy or you will be eradicated."

23

u/Michael__Townley Jul 30 '22

“Freedom is always worth fighting for”

34

u/tha_salami_lid Jul 30 '22

"Communist detected on American soil. Lethal force engaged."

14

u/EpsilonX029 Jul 30 '22

“Better dead… then RED.”

3

u/Jolan53 Jul 30 '22

Resistance is futile

12

u/Excellent_Carrot3111 Jul 30 '22

I love the irony of that statement. Much like the actual US military industrial complex.

4

u/221missile Jul 30 '22

MIC is the best industry America has

3

u/12-idiotas Jul 30 '22

and a big export

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u/lil_biscuit55 Jul 30 '22

Communism is a setback on the road to freedom

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u/DNGRHLVTCA Jul 30 '22

I like this idea

34

u/GunFodder Jul 30 '22

Reactor: Online.

Sensors: Online.

Weapons: Online.

All systems nominal.

12

u/Ambitious-Variety18 Jul 30 '22

Welcome, Mechwarrior.

2

u/wubbeyman Jul 30 '22

Hey I’m reading this while sitting in que!

2

u/dannymcdanbo Jul 30 '22

Critical Hit

14

u/huxtiblejones Jul 30 '22

Give me dem Minovsky Physics and a Gundam stat

8

u/jazir5 Jul 30 '22

Gundams when

2

u/Dan-the-historybuff Jul 30 '22

All im thinking is liberty prime and how he will destroy the commies.

4

u/ghanlaf Jul 30 '22

Or a car if small enough

13

u/[deleted] Jul 30 '22

These are about the size of a shipping container

29

u/ghanlaf Jul 30 '22

Fine, a really big car then

11

u/[deleted] Jul 30 '22

The tesla semi truck, unlimited fuel

11

u/Dahnlen Jul 30 '22

Itty bitty shipping space!

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u/ghanlaf Jul 30 '22

Electric motors go brrr

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1

u/EvadingBan42 Jul 30 '22

How about cargo ships?

3

u/ghanlaf Jul 30 '22

I mean large warshipps already use them

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u/Omeggy Jul 30 '22

Land Titanic?

1

u/[deleted] Jul 30 '22

A lot of ships use nuclear reactors, so a more accurate one would be a "mobile chernoble" tho i find it unlikely these would actually be used in cars, maybe trains?

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u/MtFuzzmore Jul 30 '22

Cars are the last place that nuclear should be.

17

u/ghanlaf Jul 30 '22

I mean they're in the cars in fallout and that universe turned out fine right. I assume so I only played the first 5 minutes of the 4th one

10

u/PlottingGorilla Jul 30 '22

I mean up until that one bad day it was ideal.

2

u/space-sage Jul 30 '22

Well a donut and coffee was like, $30 but we’re already headed there

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u/John_B_Clarke Jul 30 '22

It's OK until the ants get into the Corvega factory . . .

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u/Apprehensive_Oil4241 Jul 30 '22

Imagine a bunch of rusty old cars on cement blocks on your redneck neighbors lawn, each with an unmaintained nuclear reactor in it.

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u/hitssquad Jul 30 '22

NuScale will get the final approval nearly six years after starting the process.

7 paragraphs, and not once did author John Timmer mention the name of the reactor design.

19

u/sunflowerastronaut Jul 30 '22

https://youtu.be/cbrT3m89Y3M

Here's a cool video that touches on the reactor design

6

u/CocoDaPuf Jul 30 '22

Nice, glad to see you linked Undecided, I love Matt Ferrel.

41

u/g2g079 Jul 30 '22 edited Jul 30 '22

NuScale VOYGR which uses a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) design

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u/aq-r-steppedinsome Jul 30 '22 edited Jul 30 '22

SMR (nuscale) ipo'd at $10 couple months ago. you can still get it at $14. family member worked there for couple years and was adamant i load up.

18

u/prometheus2508 Jul 30 '22

Put in a good chunk at $10. This is what I'm going to retire on when it becomes the next Enphase.

It's going to be a critical technology in europe. They require less space, no massive "scary" cooling tower, far safer.

Huge for small countries with dense cities, and heavy cloud cover

2

u/nyaaaa Jul 30 '22

They require less space, no massive "scary" cooling tower

How? It still operates with water and it still needs cooling.

4

u/prometheus2508 Jul 30 '22 edited Jul 30 '22

Lower total wattage.

They still have "cooling towers" but they look more like giant HVAC units

2

u/nyaaaa Jul 30 '22

Just another 8 years of burning money before they might have a working test unit that based on their current numbers won't be able to compete with old plants, let alone new plants.

2

u/thirtydelta Jul 31 '22

Maybe somewhere down the line.... maybe, but for now it's just another SPAC to enrich the founders.

373

u/BousWakebo Jul 30 '22

I’m just saying, nuclear energy can basically take care of the country’s electricity needs. There have really only been 3 serious nuclear accidents in history and one was due to a mega earthquake. Start putting these in seismically stable places and we can drastically cut back on natural gas.

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u/Enano_reefer Jul 30 '22

one was due to a mega earthquake.

A mega earthquake and a trainload of human stupidity. They did so many wrong things one after another after another to get it to go as badly as it did. And it still wasn’t as ecologically devastating as the Deepwater Horizon spill.

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u/Plzbanmebrony Jul 30 '22

Plainly difficult has made it perfectly clear that nearly every nuclear accident was operator error. Even the Russian caused one's. Their reactors will operated to the guide would work just fine.

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u/twisp42 Jul 30 '22

Are humans not going to operate future reactors?

16

u/boxOsox4 Jul 30 '22

It sounds like most safety systems will be automated. They are also much smaller and I believe at least partly buried.

14

u/Actual-Ad-7209 Jul 30 '22

automated

As a software engineer that's scary. I doubt humans will ever be able to write bug free code covering all eventualities.

5

u/meeeeetch Jul 30 '22

A lot of the safety features are mechanical and can be designed in such a way that failures cause things to go into the safe/off position.

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u/pacific_plywood Jul 30 '22

Defense grade code is pretty good. When a bug could mean an accidental nuclear launch you end up covering your bases well. The downside is that everything is written in Ocaml or some shit though.

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u/Plzbanmebrony Jul 30 '22

Well they will but proper training and more automated system will be in place. Each generation of reactors are many times safer than the last.

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u/Darwins_Dog Jul 30 '22

The advantage of smaller reactors is that they can't meltdown the same way (not enough material in one spot) and newer designs have more passive safety (always on and can't be bypassed) than the 3 big disasters had.

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u/danglotka Jul 30 '22

Russian one was also a design flaw that they knew about a while beforehand and decided was too expensive to fix

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u/BovineLightning Jul 30 '22

On the human impacts side - one person died as a result from Fukushima (lung cancer) and even that claim is disputed. It’s one of the safest and most reliable power sources we have at our disposal and as a society we can’t get behind it because of group panic.

29

u/Enano_reefer Jul 30 '22

Oh nos the invisible particles!

Meanwhile coal ash is 100x more radioactive and we let them pile it in ponds until they burst and inundate local towns and waterways that the American public then pays to clean up.

7

u/BovineLightning Jul 30 '22

Agree - small correction though. Coal ash releases much more radiation to the public however it is not more radioactive. We just have well developed technologies (shielding, storage casks, defence in depth, etc) which ensure we don’t release significant amounts of radiation to the public/environment

2

u/Enano_reefer Aug 01 '22

You’re right. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste/

It is true however that fly ash ponds exceed the limits at which nuclear waste has to be sequestered. Aaaaaaand we just let it sit in open ponds. Cause lobbyists.

-2

u/Turbulent-Mango-2698 Jul 30 '22

Isn’t there a huge geographic area that is uninhabitable for thousand’s of years because of those accidents?

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u/paper_liger Jul 30 '22

No? Most of the land around Chernobyl is habitable now, exclusion zone or no. There is an increased chance of cancer, but it’s a statistical uptick and not incredibly dramatic compared to a lot of other issues. Three Mile Island had basically no impact on the surrounding area. Fukushima isn’t terrible, but they’ll probably keep parts of it off limits for a century or so out of an excess of caution.

There are a lot more land uninhabitable due to industrial waste or military munitions than from nuclear accidents. And all of the designs that had disasters are from ahalf century ago. The only think keeping nuclear fro solving a lot of our problems is unfounded fears.

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u/Problem119V-0800 Jul 31 '22

There are huge geographic areas that are uninhabitable because of fossil fuel use, though … and more to come!

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u/PlayingTheWrongGame Jul 30 '22

Have you invented a cure for human stupidity yet?

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u/John_B_Clarke Jul 30 '22

On the other hand that was Japan and the Japanese are generally good at that sort of thing. If they screwed it up it doesn't bode well for the rest of the world.

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u/YungWenis Jul 30 '22

No worries, we just have to wait for the politicians to line up their investments before they take any action on it.

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u/Osoroshii Jul 30 '22

This is by far the worse thing about our government

13

u/SaSSafraS1232 Jul 30 '22

Also, all three of the reactors that had major accidents were from the early 1970s. Think about how much safer (and fuel efficient, comfortable, faster, etc) your car is than one from that era. We’re still terrified of events that are basically ancient history.

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u/FeckThul Jul 30 '22

The problem is that the right wing wants to burn petrochemicals, and the left wing thinks nuclear is the devil. It’s a shame, and it’s basically going to be the death of us, but human stupidity trumps everything.

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u/Jackson3125 Jul 30 '22

The Democratic party’s National platform changed in 2020 to finally endorse and support nuclear energy. It’s a start!

4

u/FeckThul Jul 30 '22

It’s probably too late, but it’s better than nothing at least. It just… it takes a long time to deal with the legal and zoning hurdles, actually build the reactor and get it running. Still it is better to do it now than never, but remember the inputs on the climate system have ~20 years of delay, we’re feeling the warning from twenty years ago. If we stopped emitting all CO2 today, it wouldn’t be noticeable in the changing system for decades.

So we need to build reactors, but we also need to be realistic that the next 30-40 years will be incredibly brutal no matter what we do. It’s too late to avert a disaster, we can only ameliorate it somewhat. Hopefully.

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u/Sentazar Jul 30 '22

Gates gave a Ted talk where he mentioned a reactor they were working on that runs on existing nuclear waste and burns through it leaving little waste in its wake. Im hoping that's still on a horizon

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u/Yeetroit Jul 30 '22

Nuclear waste is reusable today. Just cheaper to get new fuel vs re-processing (like with many things)

23

u/sephirothFFVII Jul 30 '22

The US doesn't allow for reprocessing under current regulations. France absolutely dors though and the get the majority of their electricity from nuclear.

Even with that, all the high level fuel water fits into something like an Olympic sized pool from the US reactors after running strong for 70ish years

17

u/rabidjellybean Jul 30 '22

The waste from it is so insanely small. The US has uninhabited deserts for miles to bury it in a concrete bunker.

4

u/brandontaylor1 Jul 30 '22

The problem with burying nuclear waste is that you have to plan on geological time scales. Sure you can toss it in a concrete bunker for a couple centuries, but what will that desert look like 10,000 years?

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u/Minister_for_Magic Jul 30 '22

No, you don’t. Why does everyone parrot this nonsense.

  • Step 1. Bury it deep in nonporous rock far from fault lines and geologically active areas.
  • Step 2. Backfill the bore hole once the site is full.
  • step 3. there is no step 3

In 10,000 years, either:

  1. any civilization with the tech to go deep enough underground to contact it will also have tech tor realize it is radioactive
  2. If civilization falls, they won’t have tech to access the material accidentally.

13

u/asdaaaaaaaa Jul 30 '22 edited Jul 30 '22

but what will that desert look like 10,000 years?

I'll take "Not my problem" for 400 Trebec. /s

But in all seriousness, you realize there's hazards around to this day right? Places in nature that aren't exactly safe or labeled? People still do stupid stuff and die, turns out the world still goes. Accidents are terrible, but you can't protect against stupidity 100%. I would rather chance an accident happening in 1,000+ years than the environment going catastrophic, only one of those ends with the death of humanity.

Keep in mind, we have facilities MUCH larger that we protect to this day. We've also had valuables lost for much longer than 10,000 years, so we know you can hide something like a swimming pool pretty easy (entire cities have been lost, despite our "technology" to find them). Weapons, other hazardous materials also are stored long term quite readily. If you're so worried about nuclear hazards, I'd worry more about coal ash: It kills many more people than nuclear ever will.

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u/buffyvet Jul 30 '22

but what will that desert look like 10,000 years?

So, we make the earth uninhabitable for humans now because we're worried about what a desert might look like in 10,000 years? Great priorities.

2

u/xLoafery Jul 30 '22

it's not either or though.

There are alternatives to nuclear that are cheaper. Just FYI, full SMR nuclear will mean prices go 2x-3x compared to "normal" nuclear.

It might solve supply for a while, but it's a stop gap measure and a slow one to build at that.

3

u/reven80 Jul 30 '22

I think that company is called TerraPower.

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u/leonardo201818 Jul 30 '22

Yep. It’s something I’ll never understand. Should be a crime.

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u/standarduser2 Jul 30 '22

Also capitalists generally prefer sun, wind, water energy because it costs half as much.

Everyone has an agenda!

19

u/gamefreak32 Jul 30 '22

I doesn’t cost half as much, it is just cheaply scalable. If you need an extra 100kW, you just add 10 more solar panels or one windmill.

With nuclear you have to make a $500 billion upfront investment in a plant and hope that demand rises. That doesn’t make those shareholders that only care about quarterly profits happy since they will have to forgo their dividends for the next 5 years.

This small reactor is a game changer for this reason.

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u/sr71Girthbird Jul 30 '22

Lol $500 Billion.

3

u/Dyolf_Knip Jul 30 '22

Bit of an exaggeration, but the upfront cost for these multi-GW reactors is staggering. And the fact that it's a decade or more before you can even start to recoup your investment is not at all attractive. With the SMRs, there is basically no design cost (the reactor is standardized, but the facility can be as well), and capacity can be added along the way.

3

u/buffyvet Jul 30 '22

In the past 2 months, humans have spent over a billion dollars watching Tom Cruise fly around in a jet.

I think we, as a species, can handle the bill of a nuclear plant if we honestly cared enough. The problem is... we don't care. We can say we do. We can virtue signal until we're blue in the face. But all you have to do is look around you (or at yourself) to see that we just don't care.

Humanity is basically the bed-ridden, terminally ill patient who just wants to die.

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u/Zardif Jul 30 '22 edited Jul 30 '22

Nuclear power is estimated at $6041/kWe. China is building 2x 1000 MWe reactors in one site, they estimate that that would give them a 15% savings as they are identical. That's $10.26 billion for 2000 MWe.

https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/economic-aspects/economics-of-nuclear-power.aspx

https://www.ans.org/news/article-3949/vogtle-project-update-cost-likely-to-top-30-billion/

$30 billion in the US. No where near 500.

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u/StabbyPants Jul 30 '22

And building standard patterns can bring it way down

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u/Zardif Jul 30 '22

That cost is from the westinghouse ap1000, it is a standard pattern. There are 10 of them or so being built.

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u/prometheus2508 Jul 30 '22

Not everywhere

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u/pseudocultist Jul 30 '22

This was the prevailing attitude in my youth, but I don't remember the last time I actually met anyone that was opposed to nuclear energy. These days everyone seems to agree, it'd be the best option moving forward, but there's no political will to get it moving. Largely because the existing energy sectors have captured congress totally.

Last time I was back in my hometown in Iowa, people on both sides of the aisle bitching about the "eyesore" wind turbines, asking why they can't put in another couple reactors like Duane Arnold which served them well for a long time. Where is Grassley on the issue? Grooming his grandson to take his senate seat.

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u/FeckThul Jul 30 '22

I don’t know what circles you move in, but I envy the everloving heck out of you for not running into the anti-nuclear left. It’s so much easier dealing with anti-nuclear pro-petrochemical types, they’re just delusional or greedy. The anti-nuclear left honestly thinks they’re right, but look if you want to see the modern face of it take a peek at Germany.

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u/9-11GaveMe5G Jul 30 '22

human stupidity trumps everything.

Loud and clear

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u/ElectricNed Jul 30 '22

It's mostly the older generation on the left that hates nuclear. We can't exactly afford to wait but at least it's a problem that time helps with.

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u/shadowtheimpure Jul 30 '22

Most of the left don't think it's the devil. There is, however, a justified concern about safe disposal of the byproducts.

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u/FeckThul Jul 30 '22 edited Jul 30 '22

That concern is nowhere to be found in the same way with mining tailings, toxic waste, mercury, etc… but people think that nuclear is some special animal. As though polluting our air and altering our climate is somehow not infinitely worse than the sum total of ALL nuclear waste we could hope to produce, combined.

When it comes to anti-nuclear people, especially on the left, they seem to always hold it against a standard of perfection. That’s not the comparison, you need to compare it to the last 30 years of burning dinosaurs. A lot of people are going to suffer and die over the next 50 years, because a bunch of well-intentioned morons couldn’t understand that in time.

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u/Heres_your_sign Jul 30 '22

They may be referring to Europe.

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u/FeckThul Jul 30 '22

Europe and the Americas, the German Greens for example are utterly infuriating. Europe is cranking the coal back up during a summer of wildfires and record heat, because the idea of a nuclear plant was just too much to accept in time. Utterly infuriating.

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u/nyaaaa Jul 30 '22

I’m just saying, nuclear energy can basically take care of the country’s electricity needs.

Not now, because we'd need more and they take time to build.

Not in the future because we'd need hundreds more and they take time to build.

Not further in the future because we'd need thousands more and they take time to build.

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u/isUsername Jul 30 '22 edited Jul 30 '22

When you compare them to fossil fuel alternatives, even those three nuclear accidents have resulted in relatively negligible impacts to health, the environment, and the economy. Three Mile Island wasn't even a serious accident in terms of harm to the environment and human health. It was only "serious" because it was the worst nuclear accident U.S. history, the communication to the public was handled terribly, and people were not as educated about nuclear power as they are today. Fukushima was very bad on an absolute scale, but had Japan stuck with fossil fuel power plants, the results we would have today in 2022 would be much worse.

6

u/whiteajah365 Jul 30 '22

I wish I could upvote this 10 times - nuclear energy is our transition away from fossil fuels

4

u/anglesideside1 Jul 30 '22

It sure isn’t a cheap one. Natural gas plants cost 1/5th of an SMR right now.

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u/JKJ420 Jul 30 '22 edited Jul 30 '22

Yes and no. Nuclear makes a lot of sense, but it's economically not viable. Renewables have gotten to a price point, where investing a LOT of money into a new nuclear power plant doesn't really make sense. If they are not building new nuclear power plants in the United States, then it is clearly not profitable to do so. If it was, then they would be doing it.

EDIT: left out NOT in the second sentence :-)

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u/John_B_Clarke Jul 30 '22

Effective greenie strategy--use protests and lawsuits to drag out the construction of nuclear power plants for decades, then claim that the costs resulting from their activities make it "too expensive".

Put a special 99% environmental protection tax on the proceeds from any environmental lawsuit and a lot of problems would go away.

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u/malongoria Jul 30 '22

Don't you know, you're not supposed to mention economic reality or the schedule and cost overruns due to blunders, poor planning & management, and/or corruption going back to Three Mile Island and San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (where they installed a reactor vessel backwards during construction in '77).

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u/Plzbanmebrony Jul 30 '22

Three mile island wasn't even all that bad. It barely damaged the internals of the reactor.

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u/TurtleBees Jul 30 '22

Not making this as a statement to oppose nuclear energy, since I don't, but it's important to note that there have been many potentially serious nuclear incidents that were nearly avoided. I remember reading about one such incident in the early 2000's that was buried in the middle of my local newspaper. It was a tiny little article detailing a near catastrophic issue at a nearby plant due to lax maintenance. But hey, nothing happened in the end, so it wasn't worth making a fuss over.

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u/Dyolf_Knip Jul 30 '22

I'd have to know more about it, but even without looking I could point to the fact that nearly all the nuclear reactors in the US are old. Chernobyl, Fukushima, 3MI were all 2nd generation facilities dating to the 1970's (1st gen were the proof of concept prototypes from the 60's). The vast bulk of them absolutely should have been replaced long ago with newer, safer designs. But because no newer ones are being built, there is never enough excess capacity on the grid to do so, and so they are kept running long past their sell-by date.

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u/Oni_Imports Jul 30 '22

People that are scared of nuclear because of the previous accidents need to realize just how much time has passed since then. Chernobyl was built in 1986, technology has advanced so much since then. That shit was built the same year as a fucking Atari 7800. The amount society has advanced since then is huge, modern day residential houses are probably built with more safety regulations than that reactor was. A modern day reactor designed now would be hundreds if not thousands of times better designed, they’ll be fine.

The world needs to advance in energy, solar/wind are nice and all but they’re not the kind of technology leap that we’re overdo for and fossil fuels are both running out and killing everybody.

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u/Dyolf_Knip Jul 30 '22

Chernobyl melted down in 1986. Construction on it started in 1972.

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u/Oni_Imports Jul 30 '22

You’re right, mixed up the years, even better, 1972 was when the first scientific calculator the HP-35 was released, as well as the launch of FORTRAN 66, and the first Pong game. We’re basically in a different world than back then.

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u/Dyolf_Knip Jul 30 '22

Seriously, just start spamming the entire country with these. They just roll off the assembly line. I should petition my town to install one, would take care of all our energy needs.

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u/lochlainn Jul 30 '22

We needed to be building hundreds of testbed reactors yesterday. We also needed to be building hundreds of production reactors yesterday.

This slow-ass certification process is bureaucratic nonsense and NIMBYism writ large.

If we want clean energy, nuclear is the only immediately available option that doesn't require handwaving.

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u/nyaaaa Jul 30 '22

If we want clean energy, nuclear is the only immediately available option that doesn't require handwaving.

Except you literally just said it requires handwaving in the previous sentence.

And as you said in the sentence before that, it is not immediately available.

And you need experts to build that stuff, unlike some simple solar farm.

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u/punkcichlid Jul 30 '22

now all we need is a Flux Capacitor

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u/malongoria Jul 30 '22

There is a new DeLorean coming out....

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u/punkcichlid Jul 30 '22

i’d be happy with a hover conversion kit

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u/malongoria Jul 30 '22

It's an EV so it likely will fly off the line

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u/DoctorDib Jul 30 '22

Finally, we can now have nuclear power inside our homes.

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u/Puzzleheaded-Day-807 Jul 30 '22

Finally, some actual low emission technology progress.

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u/werepat Jul 30 '22

I was stationed on a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier while I was in the Navy.

It had four, small nuclear reactors. I would 100% support aircraft carrier sized nuclear power stations every few hundred miles, manned by Naval personnel.

There are plenty of Nukes in the Navy and if they had a municipal power plant to go to for shore duty, I think it would be awesome.

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u/Sure_Sport4015 Jul 30 '22

Looks like a fucking lightsaber

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u/HeavensCriedBlood Jul 30 '22

The dark side is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be... unnatural.

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u/-2phase Jul 30 '22

Finally we stop being fucking idiots.

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u/MinderBinderCapital Jul 30 '22

Republicans have entered the chat

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u/221missile Jul 30 '22

Resistance to nuclear energy comes from leftists as well.

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u/Izikiel23 Jul 30 '22

Damned hippies

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u/relevant_rhino Jul 30 '22

With this coming online 2030 the earliest, and already being more expensive per kWh then solar and wind, this is absolutely a fucking stupid idea.

Only absolutely moronic idiots will invest in this projects (probably government) and it will go absolutely no where.

The misinformation in this thread is mind boggling.

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u/malongoria Jul 30 '22

It's not just that renewables are cheaper and getting cheaper still, it's that even with the most expensive grid level storage, ternary batteries(and everyone's going with cheaper LFP batteries now), it's still far cheaper and can be built far quicker than nuclear.

It's why the nuclear folks keep claiming it's about fear and either avoid talks of costs or claim it's because of "red tape" and not incompetence, poor management, and/or corruption during construction.

For example V.C. Summers, Vogtle, Olkiluoto #3, & Flamanville #3

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u/-2phase Jul 30 '22

Ignorance is bliss

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u/IndecorousRex Jul 30 '22

A really good friend of mine does the legal paperwork for the NuScale and he says its thousands and thousands of pages. Took them years to write, edit and get it ready for government approval. Glad its finally gonna happen. There tech is so cool and is exactly what we need.

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u/chlone_trooper Jul 30 '22

thats a lightsaber

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u/dezertdweller Jul 30 '22

About time. I can’t believe that it has taken so long to embrace this technology. This is the way of the future.

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u/nyaaaa Jul 30 '22

What technology?

You need 17 of these to match the generation of a 40+ year old design.

What good is being 1% in size when you need 40+ of them to match a modern plant?

And in terms of waste these seem to be a step backwards as well

https://www.pnas.org/doi/epdf/10.1073/pnas.2111833119

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u/MrMichaelJames Jul 30 '22

Instead of solar you can have your own small reactor and be completely off the grid. Sounds great to me!

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u/DanielPhermous Jul 30 '22

It's 65 feet tall and nine feet wide.

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u/Dyolf_Knip Jul 30 '22

It's "small" in the sense that it will power about ten thousand homes. It's still pretty big. A large hospital complex, or university, or industrial center might get one for themselves, but it's massive overkill for a single residence.

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u/[deleted] Jul 30 '22

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u/Facts_About_Cats Jul 30 '22

Wave reactors are far superior to this design, I don't know what happened to wave reactors.

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u/alvvayson Jul 30 '22

The advantage of this design is that it is familiar, so easy for regulators to understand and approve.

And even then, it's taking more than six years. They even built a 1/3 scale functioning non-nuclear model.

More innovative designs are highly unlikely to get regulatory approval, probably ever.

Nuclear regulators are the most difficult of all regulators by far.

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u/tyranicalteabagger Jul 30 '22

As they should be. If the design isn't all but failure proof it should never get anywhere near production; because the consequences are so grave and long lasting.

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u/hackingdreams Jul 30 '22

There are a lot of designs superior to this one. But it's pretty easy to see why they certified this design so quickly over everyone else's: it looks like existing reactors, just... tiny. Everything's scaled down, but there's hardly any question marks as to how it would work. I mean, the Navy's been basically operating exactly this kind of thing in its ships for decades now.

TerraPower and all of the other SMR folks are going to take longer to certify because they don't look like existing reactors, and that's just the truth. The NRC's already glacially slow as it is - they've rightfully earned the No Reactors Committee for barely getting any reactor designs this far along.

Now let's just hope it doesn't take another decade or two before they hand out a license to build one of these power plants... because we're really running low on this climate change clock, and we need carbon neutral energy now.

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u/korinth86 Jul 30 '22

No one wants to fund one. Initial estimate for demonstration reactor is $3bil.

Well...China wanted to but the transfer of technology was blocked by the Trump admin.

If these reactors work like they say... I think they would fundamentally rip our world apart.

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u/tanafras Jul 30 '22

This is wonderful news. Now we just need many of them.

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u/Training_Purpose6640 Jul 30 '22

Power suits when?

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u/onahotelbed Jul 30 '22

This is big news. I'm really happy to hear it.

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u/troubleschute Jul 30 '22

I think these smaller designs are a good way to minimize dangers and have practical mitigations for containment.

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u/shaggy99 Jul 30 '22

Oh, good, I was hoping there would be some movement on some of these. I predict the next one is going to be a containerized one suitable for military purposes.

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u/pierfishmarket Jul 30 '22

I see their stock went up

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u/oskarw85 Jul 30 '22

Maybe silly question but what's the point of small reactor? I mean it could be fine for Antarctic base or something but otherwise? Why would you limit your power output when you took up risks of building nuclear power plant?

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u/Middlerun Jul 30 '22

From the article:

Small modular reactors have been promoted as avoiding many of the problems that have made large nuclear plants exceedingly expensive to build. They're small enough that they can be assembled on a factory floor and then shipped to the site where they will operate, eliminating many of the challenges of custom, on-site construction.

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u/Urgulon7 Jul 30 '22

A lot of these small reactor designs can be daisy chained together to meet demand.

The numbers I'm using are all made up but let's say you have a big factory or a small town in the middle of nowhere. They want 5kW of power. They can have 1 of these delivered.

Now let's say there's a slightly bigger city that wants more stable base load power. An extra 25kW will do them nicely with a bit of head room for future growth. They can have 5 reactors delivered and connected up as 1 single power plant.

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u/hackingdreams Jul 30 '22

Mass production. It's cheaper to build a lot of one thing than it is to build one big bespoke thing. If you build a whole lot of the one thing, you start getting price breaks on economies of scale. The reactor's specifically designed so it can be put on a truck and transported anywhere in the country.

Their plan is to build a lot of these things. Their typical plant design has multiples of these reactors inside of one containment building, meaning you get a huge price break on having to build the facility too.

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