Joint efforts of Argonne and private industry further nuclear reactor developments
Partnerships between the nuclear industry and national laboratories are making overall codes more robust and capable. (Photo: Argonne)
The development of modern nuclear reactor technologies relies heavily on complex software codes and computer simulations to support the design, construction, and testing of physical hardware systems. These tools allow for rigorous testing of theory and thorough verification of design under various use or transient power scenarios.
The Engineering Test Unit at KP Southwest. (Photo: Kairos Power)
In October, staff at Kairos Power’s testing and manufacturing facility in Albuquerque, N. M., began transferring 14 tons of molten fluoride salt coolant into an Engineering Test Unit (ETU)—the largest transfer of FLiBe (a mixture of lithium fluoride and beryllium fluoride) since the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment in 1969.
An advanced nuclear reactor technology park is hoped for the 935-acre Clinch River site. Image: TVA
The Tennessee Valley Authority’s board of directors has given the go-ahead for a program that will explore the development and potential deployment of small modular reactors as part of the utility’s decarbonization strategy.
What role will nuclear play in meeting clean energy goals?
The 2021 ANS Annual Meeting brought together three leading chief executive officers from the nuclear industry on June 16 for a discussion centered on the future role of nuclear energy deployment and the challenges of portfolio management during a time of net-zero carbon goals.
TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy jointly developed the sodium-cooled Natrium reactor with the turbine hall, nitrate heat storage tanks, and cooling towers separated from the reactor at the back of the site.
The viability of nuclear power ultimately depends on economics. Safety is a requirement, but it does not determine whether a reactor will be deployed. The most economical reactor maximizes revenue while minimizing costs. The lowest-cost reactor is not necessarily the most economical reactor. Different markets impose different requirements on reactors. If the capital cost of Reactor A is 50 percent more than Reactor B but has characteristics that double the revenue, the most economical reactor is Reactor A.
The most important factor is an efficient supply chain, including on-site construction practices. This is the basis for the low capital cost of light water reactors from China and South Korea. The design of the reactor can significantly affect capital cost through its impact on the supply chain. The question is, how can advanced reactors boost revenue and reduce costs?