Recently, the concept of autonomous power supply is gaining more and more development.
Whether it is a country house with its windmills and solar panels on the roof or a woodworking plant with a heating boiler, working on production — sawdust, the essence does not change.
The world gradually comes to the fact that it is time to abandon centralized providing heat and electricity.
The exception is the individual cities of the northern countries — there are centralized heating and large boilers are justified by climatic conditions.
As for the autonomous electric power industry, everything goes to this — the population is actively buying windmills and solar panels.
Enterprises are looking for ways to rational use of thermal energy from technological processes, build their own thermal power plants and also bother solar panels with windmills.
Ultimately, it turns out to be cheaper than buying the necessary energy facilities from local energy seals.
However, after the Chernobyl accident, all somehow have forgotten that the energy of the atom remains the most environmentally friendly, cheap and affordable way of obtaining heat and electrical energy.
And if, throughout the existence of the nuclear industry, the power plant with nuclear reactors has always been associated with complexes on the hectares of the square, huge pipes and lakes for cooling, then a number of recent developments are designed to break these stereotypes.
Miniature stations with dimensions from garage boxing to a small two-story building are ready to supply from 10 to 100 MW for 10 years without refueling.
Reactors are fully autonomous, safe, do not require maintenance and after the service life is simply recharged for another 10 years.
What is not a dream for a plant for the production of irons or a household house?
Consider in more detail those of which will begin in the coming years.
Toshiba 4S (Super Safe, Small and Simple)
The reactor is designed by the type of battery. It is assumed that such a «battery» will be buried in a mine in a depth of 30 meters, and the building above it will have dimensions 22
Such a station will need attendants, but it still does not go to comparison with tens of thousands of square meters of square and hundreds of workers at traditional nuclear power plants. Rated power of the complex — 10 megawatts for 30 years without refueling.
The reactor works on fast neutrons. A similar reactor is established and operates since 1980 at the Beloyarsk NPP in the Sverdlovsk region of Russia (BN-600 reactor).
In the Japanese installation, the sodium melt is used as a coolant. This allows you to work to raise the temperature of the reactor to 200 degrees Celsius compared with water and under normal pressure. The use of water in this capacity would give rise to the pressure in the system hundreds of times.
The most important thing is the cost of working out 1 kW hour for this installation is expected at the level of 5 to 13 cents. The scatter is due to the peculiarities of national taxation, different costs of recycling nuclear waste and the cost of introducing and eliminating the station itself.
The first customer of «batteries» from Toshiba seems to be a small town of Galena Alaska in the United States. Currently there is a coordination of permits with American government agencies. The company’s partner in the United States is Westinghouse, who first put the fuel assemblies of alternative Russian TVEL for the first time in the Ukrainian NPP.
These American guys look like the first to enter the commercial market of miniature nuclear reactors. The company offers installations from 70 to 25 megawatt worth about $ 25-30 million per piece.
Hyperion nuclear installations
The reactor works in the same principle as the majority of modern reactors in nuclear power plants. The most common on the principle of action are the most common Russian-type Russian reactors and power plants, used on nuclear submarines of the project 705 «Lira» (NATO — «Alfa»). The American reactor is practically a land version of the reactors, installed on the specified submarines, by the way, the fastest submarines of their time.
Uranium nitride is used as fuel, which has a higher thermal conductivity compared to traditional VVER reactors with ceramic uranium oxide. This allows you to work at a temperature of 250-300 degrees Celsius is higher than water-water installations, which increases the efficiency of steam turbines of eleticrogenerators. Here everything is simple — the higher the temperature of the reactor, the higher the temperature of the steam and, as a result, above the efficiency of the steam turbine.
A lead-bismuth melt is used as a cooling «fluid», similar to that of Soviet APLs. The melt passes through three heat exchange circuits, reducing the temperature with 500 degrees Celsius to 480. The working fluid for the turbine can serve as water steam and superheated carbon dioxide.
Installation with fuel and cooling system has a mass of only 20 tons and is designed for 10 years of operation at a rated power of 70 megawatts without refueling. Impact really miniature sizes — the reactor has only 2.5 meters in height and 1.5 meters wide! The entire system can be transported on trucks or railway transport, being an absolute commercial world record holder in terms of power ratio.
Upon arrival at the place, the «barrel» with the reactor is simply buried. Access to it or any service is not expected at all.
After the warranty period expires, the assembly is digging and sent to the manufacturer’s factory to rewrite. Features of lead-bismuth cooling give a huge safety advantage — overheating and explosion (no pressure increases with increasing temperature). Also, when cooled, the alloy is frozen, and the reactor itself turns into an iron blank, not afraid of mechanical influences, isolated with a thick layer of lead. By the way, it is the impossibility of working on small capacities that precisely the frozen of the cooling alloy and the automatic shutdown) was the cause of refusing to further use lead bismuth plants on the submarine. For the same reason, these are the safest reactors of all, ever mounted on the submarine of all countries.
Initially, miniature nuclear power plants were developed by Hyperion Power Generation for the needs of the extractive industry, namely, for the processing of combustible shale into synthetic oil. Assessment reserves of synthetic oil in combustible shale, available for processing existing technologies are estimated at 2.8. -33 trillion barrels. For comparison, the reserves of «liquid» oil in wells are estimated in just 1.2 trillion barrels. However, the process of processing shale in oil requires their heating, followed by the capture of evaporation, which are then condensed into oil and by-products. It is clear that for heating you need to take energy somewhere. For this reason, oil production from the shale is considered economically inappropriate compared with its imports from OPEC countries. So the future of your product company sees in different applications.
For example, as a mobile power plant for the needs of military bases and airfields. There are also interesting prospects here. So, when conducting mobile hostilities, when troops operate from the so-called reference points in certain regions, these stations could feed the BAZ infrastructure. Like in computer strategies. With the only difference that when the task in the region is performed, the power plant is shipped to the vehicle (aircraft, cargo helicopter, trucks, train, ship) and take a new place.
Another use in the military sphere is stationary nutrition of permanent military bases and airfields. For air tax or rocket strike, the base with an underground nuclear power plant that does not require the service personnel is more likely to maintain combat capability. In the same way, a group of social infrastructure facilities can be used — the system of vocational relations of cities, administrative facilities, hospitals.
Well, industrial and civil application are the power supply systems of small cities and towns, individual enterprises or their groups, heating systems. After all, these installations primarily produce thermal energy and in the cold regions of the planet can be the core of centralized heating systems. Also promising the company considers the use of such mobile power plants on desalination plants in developing countries.
SSTAR (small, sealed, transportable, autonomous reactor)
Small, sealed, mobile autonomous reactor — a project developed in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA.
On the principle of operation is similar to Hyperion, only uranium-235 uses as fuel. Must have an expiration date of 30 years at power from 10 to 100 megawatts.
Dimensions should be 15 meters in height and 3 wide with a 200 ton reactor weigh.
This unit is initially calculated for use in underdeveloped countries according to the leasing scheme.
Thus, high attention is paid to the inability to disassemble the design and extract something valuable from it.
Valuable is uranium-238 and weapons plutonies that are produced as the expiration date.
At the end of the lease agreement, the recipient will have to return this installation in the United States.
Only there is such an opinion that these are mobile plants for the production of armory plutonium for other people’s money?
In other words, the American state here has not advanced further research, until there is no prototype.
I think we can expect the further onset of the «pocket» NPP, especially since other enterprises are also conducted to create similar stations.
In general, a miniature nuclear reactor is a worthy answer to all kinds of tidal and tidying torment and other incredibly «green» technologies.
It seems that in the near future we will be able to observe how again military technologies are moving to civil service.
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