A microreactor at every rest stop?

October 26, 2020, 12:00PMNuclear News

The MiFi-DC as portrayed in a video released by Argonne.

Electrifying the nation’s trucking industry could reduce consumption of fossil-based diesel fuel, but it would also pose new challenges. A cross-country 18-wheel truck needs five to 10 times more electricity than an electric car to recharge its battery. Where will that electricity come from?

A team of engineers at Argonne National Laboratory has designed a microreactor called the MiFi-DC (for MicroFission Direct Current) that they say could be mass-produced and installed at highway rest stops to power a future fleet of electric 18-wheelers.

Nuclear News reached out to the MiFi-DC team to learn more. The team, led by Derek Kultgen, a principal engineer at Argonne who also leads the lab’s Mechanisms Engineering Test Loop, responded to questions by email. While they emphasized that much more needs to be done before the MiFi-DC could become a fixture at rest stops across the country, the information the team shared sheds some light on the process of designing a tiny reactor for a specific purpose.

Argonne microreactor designed to charge long-haul trucks of the future

October 8, 2020, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A team of engineers in Argonne National Laboratory’s Nuclear Science and Engineering Division have designed a microreactor called MiFi-DC that could be factory-produced and installed at highway rest stops across the country to power a proposed fleet of electric trucks. The reactors are described in an article, Could Argonne’s mini nuclear reactor solve the e-truck recharging dilemma? and a video released by Argonne on October 6.

Pairing a liquid metal thermal reactor with a thermal energy storage system, each reactor could fuel an average of 17 trucks a day.

Entergy takes net-zero pledge, teams with Mitsubishi to decarbonize with hydrogen

October 2, 2020, 9:56AMNuclear News

Paul Browning, Mitsubishi Power, and Paul Hinnenkamp, Entergy, sign the joint agreement on September 23. Photo: Entergy

New Orleans–based Entergy Corporation last week announced a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, joining a growing list of major energy companies to make that promise—including Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Southern Company, Xcel Energy, and Public Service Enterprise Group. And, like those companies, Entergy says that it sees nuclear playing an important role in the realization of that goal.

Can chemical heat pumps for integrated energy systems and industrial applications change the world?

August 28, 2020, 3:27PMNuclear NewsVivek Utgikar, Piyush Sabharwall, and Brian Fronk

Nuclear energy is faced with a number of challenges in a changing energy landscape, driven by the need to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. Renewable energy technologies are being considered as the solution to climate change and are increasingly being deployed across the world. However, renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind, are highly variable, and deployment of these technologies has resulted in significant perturbances in the energy market, raising questions about grid stability and the adaptability of other sources to compete in a changing marketplace that prioritizes renewables. Nuclear plants, well suited for baseload operation, have demonstrated technical capability and flexibility to respond to the fluctuating demand; however, they have also discovered that the economics of such operating mode are not necessarily optimal to their financial security. On the other hand, despite contributing to the carbon emissions, the low cost of abundantly available natural gas and resultant low-cost electricity have exacerbated the economic pressure on nuclear technologies, raising questions about their survival and role in future energy systems1.