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Bozzlife: The Nuclear Option


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Heads up! This post is going to be relatively short but mostly text. Now that I warned you, you can either upvote me and go about your business or you can continue to read on :)

The majority of this post is going to be copied and pasted. That isn't to say I plagiarized, instead I am going to share a conversation with you that I had with a company recently.

In the past year or so I have learned about a technology called Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMR's). This may be old news to some of you, it is possible the concept has been around for years, but it is new to me. One of the leading developers and innovators of this technology is a company called Nuscale.

I have said in the past that if this company were to ever go public I would buy their stock in a heartbeat. The thousand foot view description is Nuscale's SMR's take up significantly less square acreage than a traditional power plant. They can also be daisy chained together in larger scale deployments and they are immune to meltdowns.

Yep, that last statement is what really got my attention too.

The first time I wrote about Nuscale someone (I think it was @steevc) brought up the point of "what about the waste"?

Isn't it amazing that in this day and age pretty much every company has a Facebook page and along with having a Facebook page they have a messenger account so you can ask them questions. I reached out to them and asked them about the waste an this was their reply:

"My name, thank you for your question. What's interesting is that used nuclear fuel still has considerable energy available, and could be recovered.There are existing and new technologies on the drawing boards today that can utilize this fuel. We have demonstrated that used fuel can be safely transported and stored, as needed. The NuScale design will also be able to take advantage of advanced fuel designs in development, when they are ready, which hold real promise to reduce the inventory of used fuel. In addition, the NuScale plant design incorporates proven safe, secure, and effective used fuel management systems. Used fuel is stored underwater in a stainless steel lined concrete pool for at least 5 years. The concrete pool is well below grade as is part of the reactor building; a highly robust structure designed to Seismic Category 1 and aircraft impact resistant requirements, capable of withstanding a variety of severe natural and man-made phenomena. The facility design includes on-site dry cask storage of the used fuel for the life of the facility, or until such time that the used fuel can be ultimately stored at a permanent long-term used fuel repository."

I think I shared this in a previous post, but I thought I should share it again. I thought I was going to just get a canned response from them, but I feel like I actually got a well thought out intelligent reply.

I've continued to follow them over the past year or more and when the hurricane hit Puerto Rico I started wondering how things could be different if they had SMR's. Then the most recent hurricane hit the Bahama's and I decided to reach out to them again.

I asked how things could be different if SMR's were in place and how it might impact the efforts to rebuild, etc.

This was their reply:

"Thank you again for your interest. NuScale’s SMR is an optimal solution in a place like Puerto Rico, where extreme weather poses major risks to energy infrastructure. The design features a fully factory fabricated small modular reactor (SMR) capable of generating 60 MW of zero carbon electricity that is safer, smaller, and scalable. As Puerto Rico designs its energy future, the scalable nature of our SMR makes it a good fit – we can provide resilient, reliable, zero-carbon power scaled to a community’s needs. Recently, a groundbreaking, three-year research effort determined that NuScale’s plant design is the most resilient nuclear reactor in the world. It safely shuts down and self-cools, indefinitely with no operator action, no AC or DC power, and no additional water. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed SMRs as an alternative to reinvent Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure. In March, the U.S. Department of Commerce Civil Nuclear Trade Advisory Committee (CINTAC) published a position paper outlining the economic and export potential of SMRs for Puerto Rico. In October 2018, a delegation of Puerto Rican engineers from the U.S. nuclear industry (Nuclear Alternative Project) and executives from four SMR vendors traveled to Puerto Rico to inform Puerto Rico’s leadership and community about the advances of SMR technology and their applicability to Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure. Specifically, we wanted to show how SMR technology, powered by a Puerto Rican workforce, could (1) complement Puerto Rico’s solar and wind capabilities to create a self-sustainable and reliable energy infrastructure, and (2) revitalize the Island’s economy within the research and manufacturing sectors. We had productive meetings with stakeholders and community leaders, including Puerto Rican government officials, representatives from the Electric Energy Authority of Puerto Rico (PREPA), and mayors, and we also participated in a very informative and positive university forum with students and members of the public at the University of Puerto Rico. In terms of outcomes, there was lots of interest in SMRs and their potential application for Puerto Rico."

I'll be honest, some of it is over my head, but I think it is totally awesome that they have thought of those scenarios and they are actively working with the governments to come up with a solution.

Nuscale continues to impress me and if you start following them you will see that the rest of the world is starting to take notice too!


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