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Configuring EM2 to Meet the Challenges of Economics, Waste Disposition and Non-Proliferation Confronting Nuclear Energy in the U.S.

Robert Schleicher, Christina Back

Fusion Science and Technology

Volume 61 / Number 1T / January 2012 / Pages 144-149


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General Atomics (GA) is developing a new nuclear concept called Energy Multiplier Module (EM2), which is a helium (He) cooled fast reactor with a net electrical output of 240 MW. It employs a “convert & burn” core design which converts fertile to fissile and burns it in situ over a 30-year core life. It can burn SNF from LWRs with no reprocessing, only refabrication. The core can be recycled using an AIROX-based method to remove a fraction of the fission products (FPs) but no heavy metals. The reactor is passively safe and sited below grade. It can sustain a Fukushima type station blackout or even a station blackout combined with a loss of coolant accident using only passive safety systems without radioactivity release or loss of plant. The afterheat is rejected directly to the air. It is a high temperature reactor and employs a direct closed-cycle gas turbine for 48% net efficiency. The reject heat can be released directly to air so that siting near a large water source is not required. GA is targeting a power cost in the range of 6-7 cents/kW-hr, which would make it a competitive power source even with low-cost natural gas. This ambitious power cost is achieved through high efficiency, simplicity of the direct cycle gas turbine power and relatively small subsystems that can be shop fabricated and shipped by road to the site.

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