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Micro-nuclear reactor is about to operate in the US


The US Atomic Energy Commission (NRC) licensed the first small modular reactor (SMR) to go into operation, providing a safer and cheaper source of clean energy.

Simulation of a small modular reactor placed in a storage tank. Photo: nuscale

Simulation of a small modular reactor placed in a storage tank. Photo: NuScale

The NRC’s July 29 announcement said it had approved the Oregon-based company’s reactor design for use in the United States. This is the seventh design approved since the NRC’s founding in 1974, marking a wave of technology aimed at making nuclear power cheaper, easier to install and safer to operate.

Key to the advantages of SMR reactors lies in their small size and modular design. Instead of building reactors on site and tailoring them to site, NuScale can mass-produce lightweight reactor modules in a factory, then ship them around the world for relatively quick and easy installation. easy.

Each cylindrical module is 20 m high, has a diameter of 2.7 m and produces 77 MW by pushing steam through a turbine. A power plant can run 4 – 12 modules submerged in a water tank, so the total capacity is about 308 – 924 MW. NuScale says mass production will make SMR more cost-competitive than fossil fuels.

Like most new-generation nuclear reactors, the SMR is designed to shut down safely in the event of a failure. The water inlet and steam release valves will close in an emergency situation. The second set of valves will open to depressurize steam from the reactor core into the reactor container. When condensing, the steam will be returned to the core and recirculated. NuScale says the reactor is housed in a giant water tank with a concrete roof, providing a final layer of protection against earthquakes and air strikes.

The first NuScale power plant will begin generating electricity in 2029 and all six modules will be operational by 2030. Located at the Idaho National Laboratory, the Carbon Free Power project will provide approximately 462 MW of electricity.

An Khang (Follow New Atlas)

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