Replacing Fossil Energy with Advanced SMR Nuclear Energy
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Footnotes & Links

    Replacing Fossil Energy with
Advanced Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Nuclear Energy
Passive and inherent safety are key components of next-generation nuclear energy systems. 
IAEA Launches New Version of Advanced Reactors Database.pdf

From COP23, November 2017:  Nuclear High Temperature Heat Could Replace Fossil Fuels in Industry, Mitigate Climate Change.pdf 
Advanced Nuclear Technologies can Help Achieve a Carbon-Free Energy Future.pdf
Molten Salt Reactor - IAEA to Establish New Platform For Collaboration.pdf 

Third Way's new web site describing advanced  nuclear energy: 

U.S. Download:  to get up to speed on the latest in the advanced nuclear world.

Advanced nuclear reactors are emerging in the form of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), defined as being under 300 megaWatts (electrical) as opposed to today's costly, clumsy, and difficult to keep safe 1,800 mW(e) units.

It should be pointed out that, globally, there are over 50 companies developing SMRs and the ones represented by the consortium above are all "Bridge" technology designs limited by the drawbacks inherent in today's water-cooled nuclear reactors.



        Items and issues extracted from the above Canadian report:

SMALL MODULAR REACTORS UNDER DEVELOPMENT - These categories are distinguished primarily by their fuel and/or coolant properties:

1. Pressurized Water-cooled Reactors (PWR)                    (Modern SMR bridge versions of today's large water-cooled reactors.)
High-Temperature Gas-cooled Reactors (HTGR)            
3. Sodium-cooled Fast Reactors (SFR)
Lead-cooled Fast Reactors (LFR) 
5. Gas-cooled Fast Reactors (GFR)
Molten Salt Reactors (MSR)
7. Fusion Reactors


           Application                             Rank
1. District heating                              - #2
Industrial process heat                   - #5
3. Hydrogen production                      - #1
Synfuel production
5. Heavy oil recovery
6. Petrochemical refining
7. Desalination                                 - #3
8. Oxygen production
Energy storage                             - #4 Coupling with energy storage
10. Marine propulsion
11. Isotope production
12. Recycling of spent fuel to reduce current spent fuel volume and liability
13. Community infrastructure and services, such as greenhouses, wide-band internet for medical and educational use, and aquaculture


1. Operation beyond electricity generation
2. Simple design and operation
Quick deployment
4. Well understood and quantified risks
Reactor must be transportable
6. Schedules must be accurate and predictable
Off-grid reactors must have the capability for remote monitoring
Designs must be standardized
9. Designs must be scalable
Must have minimal staffing requirements
Early consideration and incorporation of safeguards issues, especially for novel designs
Option to recycle current spent fuel inventories for use as a fuel source

And, with the nuclear industry struggling to compete against low-cost natural gas generation, the birthplace of nuclear reactors, Idaho National Laboratories, is stepping up a search for ways to lower existing reactor operating costs, research on "accident tolerant" reactor fuels for existing water cooled reactors, i.e., developing safer fuel rod cladding than the zirconium that has been traditionally used, designing more efficient control rooms and using technology to reduce reactor safety inspection time and costs.

Small Modular Reactor (SMR) consortium:     About SMRs:   SMR Economics 

Click to Enlarge. Click again to zoom in and out.


   Advanced Reactor Types:  Cartridge Type Molten Salt Reactor    Generic TRISO Nuclear Reactor    General Atomics EM2 TRISO Power Plant    The Hook-Ons .pdf

Advanced Nuclear Technologies for Fighting Climate Change
Nuclear: The World's Largest Source Of Controllable Energy

In todays world, every nuclear plant that is not built is a fossil-fuel plant that does get built, which in most of the world means coal.

The development of new nuclear reactor power plants is proliferating and there must be over 1 thousand entities worldwide engaged in bringing some sort of nuclear fission powered reactor or complete electricity power plant to market.  Many types, such as the sodium cooled fast breeder reactor share some of the shortcomings of today's light water cooled reactors - such as too cool to replace fire and explosion or fire hazards.

NOTE: Just as internal combustion engines can be gasoline, diesel, or jet engines, different advanced nuclear reactors have different advantages.  The author has separated those advanced reactors useful for replacing fossil fuels into at least three distinct types:

The author has separated electricity power plants into four distinct groups:

LARGE - Having individual generating units larger than 300 megaWatts.  See Largest Coal
The 1,200 largest coal plants - producing 30% of all Climate Changing CO2 - are generally amenable to coal to nuclear conversions.

FUTURE LARGE - 1,000 new large coal plants are currently being planned.  See Future Coal
1,000 future large coal electricity power plants are currently being planned by various countries.  Preemptable by small nuclear barge power plants.

Having individual generating units smaller than 300 megaWatts.  See Small Coal
20,000+ small coal plants are generally amenable to coal to combined cycle OxyFuel oil conversions.

- Ocean going barges with package nuclear electricity power plants.  Nuclear Power Plant Barges
Nuclear Barge electricity power plants.  80% of the world's population is within 60 miles from navigable water.


The reason for doing this is that it appears the "Classical" 290C (550F) light water nuclear reactor, optimized for producing only electricity, has reached the end of it's development cycle and smaller, more versatile versions of nuclear reactors are beginning to be considered for use.  Some of the smaller versions are, themselves, 290C (550F) light water electricity generation reactors designed to be passively safer and less expensive to deploy. 

Other small reactors (generally known as Small Modular Reactors or SMRs) are not light water cooled and have what are regarded as naturally superior safety characteristics and produce more fire-like temperatures.  Each of the three types cited below have distinctive unique characteristics that make them extremely promising in narrower fields of applications.  All can be considered to be better substitutes for large industrial fossil fuel fires.

The General Accounting Office issued a report on the outlook for such reactors in the U.S.:  Nuclear Reactor Outlook - GAO Report - 671686.pdf

In June, 2015,  published a list of 33 private advanced U.S. reactor projects: Advanced Reactor Projects .pdf


Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) -   See item 5.
Well suited to quickly and inexpensively replacing the coal burning boilers in the world's current 1,200 largest electricity power plants. 

The 700C (1,300F) Molten Salt Reactor runs at atmospheric pressure.  Considered very safe, its relatively high temperature, high power density, and extremely low cost fuels make it an ideal replacement upgrade from coal in most respects.  Capable of providing steam for the most advanced - i.e., supercritical and ultra-supercritical - steam turbines.

August 2015 U.K. assessment of molten salt reactor technology:  Molten-Salt Reactor Feasibility Study by EPD  (pdf)


Generic High Temperature Gas Reactor (HTGR) -  See item 4.
Well suited for decarbonized energy's high temperature applications such as hydrogen gas generation and ambient air CO2 extraction.

Being built at the 200 megaWatt(thermal) HTR-PM in China, planned to be operational in 2017, 40 units to be constructed for Rongcheng electricity complex.  Is regarded by U.S. NRC as mature and safe. 
One commercial unit was built at Ft St Vrain, Colorado, ran for a few years (1976 to 1989) as a HTGR, was converted to combined cycle natural gas and is still producing electricity.  Was considered so safe it did not require to be housed in an explosion containment building.
700C to 950C (1,300F to 1,740F) Temperature output is essential for Climate Change applications such as Direct Air Capture of CO2, Direct Generation of Hydrogen by Thermochemical processes.



General Atomics EM2 - HTGR nuclear power plant package.  See item 3.
850 C (1,600 F), well suited for mass production and installation on ocean-going barges to power the world's poorest countries.  The reactor portion of this 240 megaWatt(electrical) system module is a fast-neutron high temperature gas reactor (HTGR) enabling as long as 30 years between refueling.



The 500C (930F) small
Fast Breeder Reactor, like the basic light water reactor, does not distinguish itself with sufficiently high temperature output to make it especially useful for Climate Change mitigation applications beyond clean electricity generation.  Designed initially to produce abundant high-purity plutonium for safe-to-store nuclear weapons, the Fast Breeder Reactor assures a long future for nuclear electricity.  Russia has had a fast breeder program for decades with satisfactory performance.


According to the American think tank Third Way, there are presently five SMRs in development in the US:
Global list of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs): 

NuScale Power, Corvallis, Oregon 
Radix Power and Energy Corp, Setauket, New York   
Holtec, Jupiter, Florida 
Westinghouse, Fulton, Missouri 
General Atomics, San Diego, California!/welcome/ 


NuScale is expected to file the first full design license application for a small modular reactor (SMR) later this year. The Oregon based developer was an early mover in the design licensing process, starting its NRC design certification pre-application project back in 2008. NuScale plans to submit its license application in late 2016 under a DoE funding agreement which will provide the firm with $217 million towards the design certification application and other commercialization engineering, analysis and testing.

NuScale is the largest single recipient of DoE funding for SMR licensing and development and the governments support mechanism requires the group to execute testing programs in support of design development and NRC review requirements. - - - Nuclear Energy Insider, Jan 12, 2016

Large energy, no matter if it is coal, natural gas, oil, or nuclear energy, must have government licensing.  Example:  Boiler License Example - Permit Extract - Los Angeles .pdf



Nuclear's biggest advantage is that it will produce massive amounts of extremely cheap CO2-free energy for as long as civilization is expected to last.
Nuclear's biggest disadvantage is that nuclear radiation - like heat radiation from big fires - will always be hazardous and difficult to contain and handle.
Unlike industrial size fires, you can't turn nuclear radiation from power reactors 100% off quickly.  It can take many years for a nuclear reactor to "cool down" to a safe level.



It will always take about 3 feet of concrete to do a good job of stopping the neutrons used to make atomic heat.

Penetrating power of alpha, beta, and gamma radiation.


Teaching model of a radiation containment wall. 
Thick concrete walls provide the best shielding but Composite Shields can be used when space is a constraint - such as a submarine.



Nuclear vs. Oil


How powerful is nuclear as a source of energy? 
If we built 1 nuclear power plant a week for 50 years (2,600), at the end, we would have built the nuclear equivalent of 1 Cubic Mile of Oil energy.




A path towards innovating nuclear energy

At the heart of the modern energy debate is a struggle between the need for more energy globally, while simultaneously achieving lower emissions. Nuclear energy is uniquely positioned to help respond to these dueling necessities, but innovative advancements must overcome considerable barriers, writes Todd Allen.

The topic of nuclear energy can be a polarizing one, but all sides agree that the nuclear energy sector could benefit from significant innovation. The industry can and should work together to address six key areas - improving communication; increasing private investment; designating test beds; modernizing regulation; stabilizing federal funding; embracing advanced technology.

From 3-5 March, more than 120 global energy experts met in six cities across the USA to discuss innovation in nuclear energy. Unlike typical conferences organized around a series of prepared presentations, these workshops were driven by small-group brainstorming about some of nuclear energy's most pressing challenges. The goal of these workshops was twofold: to gather input from energy experts that could help improve strategy and collaboration for innovating nuclear technologies in the USA and globally; and to start an ongoing dialogue among experts and laypersons alike about nuclear energy's role in the nation's energy mix.  - - - World Nuclear News editorial, March 31 2015.



How nuclear energy can be used to replace fossil fuel energies



Yes and No.  Missing from above are the significant WWII nuclear countries Germany, U.K., U.S., Russia.
Water cooled solid uranium power reactors are used to make excellent weapons-grade plutonium.




Footnotes & Links