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Setback For Small Nuclear Reactors: B&W Cuts mPower Funding

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the invest-in-canned-air dept.

Businesses 165

mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that funding for the mPower, a Small Modular [Nuclear] Reactor, has been cut due to the inability to find investors interested in building a prototype. From the article: "The pullback represents a major blow to the development of SMRs, which have been hailed as the next step forward for the nuclear power industry. ... All told, B&W, the DOE, and partners have spent around $400 million on the mPower program. Another $600 million was needed just to get the technology ready for application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for licensing. ... B&W plans to continue low-level R&D on the mPower technology with a view to commercial deployment in the mid-2020s, said CEO James Ferland. But without a major shift in the business environment and in investor perceptions of the risks and rewards associated with nuclear power, that seems fanciful."

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KickStarter? (1, Redundant)

Jack Griffin (3459907) | about 4 months ago | (#46865279)

Well?

Re:KickStarter? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865309)

Kickstarter is a good ponzi scheme, projects that succeed are small, low-cost and with potential to go tamagochi-popular and recoup the small initial cost. A movie about your neighbor's cat, a smartphone gadget, that kind of thing. Long-term projects with high costs and a complex design, approval, manufacturing and operation process like a nuclear plant or parts thereof aren't really a good fit to it as it is now.

Re:KickStarter? (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 4 months ago | (#46866089)

I wish Slashdotters wouldn't use the word "ponzi scheme" to mean "thing I don't like". It's got a very specific, very informative meaning that's being casually eroded out of laziness.

Re:KickStarter? (2)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 4 months ago | (#46866631)

Do not mistake ignorance and intellectual incompetence for laziness. They're hard at work screwing up.

Re:KickStarter? (2, Informative)

imikem (767509) | about 4 months ago | (#46866985)

What? A Ponzi scheme bilks successive waves of investors to enrich the originator and hide the malfeasance from earlier investors. How is that remotely like Kickstarter?

Re:KickStarter? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#46866305)

Small reactors face a tough challenge. They become economical with a large production scale, but the initial market is not large enough to build that production pipeline, so it really is more expensive than large reactors.

Add the challenges of competition with natural gas bringing down electricity prices considerably along with a continued weak economy and therefore lack of demand growth, the high cost of building the first SMRs puts them out of reach.

Large reactors make more sense. They cost less per installed KW, and can offset the loss of more than one fossil plant. That is our best hedge against the likelihood of future wild price fluctuations in gas.

I have a project (-1, Troll)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 4 months ago | (#46865291)

Maybe this one will get funded. I have an idea to give radioactive material with megaton-level nuclear potential energy stored inside, placed in a portable, easy to steal container, to 3rd world countries. Anyone want to invest?
These people are morons! MORONS!!!!! I mean there aren't even words for shit this stupid. Who the hell gets up in the morning and says let's build suitcase nukes for the betterment of mankind of lalalala I'm going to imagine unicorns and fairies and that terrorists don't exist. Were they on vacation on the fucking moon when Fukishima happened? Are they not away of radioactive-free nuclear fusion research? AAGGGGHHH I know, why don't they buy Yahoo and Myspace and merge them together to make little suitcases that generate megawatts of Xrays "FOR BIRD WATCHING."

Re:I have a project (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865317)

Nurse, I think he's off his meds again.

Re:I have a project (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 months ago | (#46865319)

suitcases that generate megawatts of Xrays "FOR BIRD WATCHING."

Better idea: sell them to the DHS, so law enforcement vehicles can be equipped with them in order to Xray all vehicles on the street looking for suspicious materials

Re:I have a project (3, Insightful)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 4 months ago | (#46865327)

So you hate nuclear power and have no interest in properly learning about it, instead taking your knowledge from Hollywood sensationalization of radioactivity and nuclear power. We find those by the bucket nowadays. The difference is most don't dare speak, because the aren't sure. Those that actually think they got it right are the most dangerous.
Here is a source for serious information on nuclear power, without any BS:
  https://class.coursera.org/nuc... [coursera.org]

Re:I have a project (-1, Flamebait)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 4 months ago | (#46865487)

Okay, is this real enough for you? No nuclear reactors of any kind in existence right now don't require unbelievably dangerous and radioactive fuel. The end, no 2 ways about it. How are you going to guarantee the security of that? There is no such thing as a non-radiactive tritium reactor. That is a fact and a law of physics. You might as well just ship Uranium or Plutonium directly to the terrorists. Why they think ANYONE would invest in something this insanely, monumentally, suicidally stupid is beyond anyone's comprehension for logic.

Re:I have a project (4, Informative)

G-forze (1169271) | about 4 months ago | (#46865501)

There is no such thing as a non-radiactive tritium reactor. That is a fact and a law of physics.

There is also no such thing as a non-radioactive sandwich, that's a fact and law of physics. (C-14 [wikipedia.org] for instance.) What has that got to do with anything? That you use scare words like "unbelievably dangerous", "terrorists" and "suicidally stupid" only makes you seem less informed. You are just a greenpeace troll. Nothing to see here.

Re:I have a project (0)

Camael (1048726) | about 4 months ago | (#46865717)

There is no such thing as a non-radiactive tritium reactor. That is a fact and a law of physics.

There is also no such thing as a non-radioactive sandwich, that's a fact and law of physics. (C-14 [wikipedia.org] for instance.) What has that got to do with anything? That you use scare words like "unbelievably dangerous", "terrorists" and "suicidally stupid" only makes you seem less informed.

You are just a greenpeace troll. Nothing to see here.

I'd mod you up as the voice of reason if I had any mod points.

There is also no such thing as a non-radioactive (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865869)

"There is also no such thing as a non-radioactive sandwich..."

This is a logical fallacy, one I have dubbed "smaller gun theory"
"Shooting someone with .22 Caliber gun is bad."
"Not it isn't, because someone else can shoot someone with a .45 caliber gun."

This assertion is reverse of the basic smaller gun theory:

"Nuclear power creates/uses highly dangerous radioactive material, and therefore is bad, or in this case, a bad investment, and/or dangerous because it can be diverted to terrorists."
"No it isn't, because even sandwiches are radioactive."
Of course, sandwiches are radioactive, but fuel for a nuclear power plant is X times as radioactive. I'm surprised someone on /. could be so, so, [fill in the blank].

Re:There is also no such thing as a non-radioactiv (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865997)

"There is also no such thing as a non-radioactive sandwich..."

This is a logical fallacy, one I have dubbed "smaller gun theory"
"Shooting someone with .22 Caliber gun is bad."
"Not it isn't, because someone else can shoot someone with a .45 caliber gun."

This assertion is reverse of the basic smaller gun theory:

"Nuclear power creates/uses highly dangerous radioactive material, and therefore is bad, or in this case, a bad investment, and/or dangerous because it can be diverted to terrorists."
"No it isn't, because even sandwiches are radioactive."
Of course, sandwiches are radioactive, but fuel for a nuclear power plant is X times as radioactive. I'm surprised someone on /. could be so, so, [fill in the blank].

I'd mod you up as the voice of reason if I had any mod points.

Re:There is also no such thing as a non-radioactiv (2)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 4 months ago | (#46866645)

The point is radioactive != dangerous. Just as projectile != lethal weapon.

Re:I have a project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46866207)

I'd mod you down as the voice of logical fallacy if I had any mod points.

In this case, the fallacy of the excluded middle.

Sagan knew, why don't you?
http://www.xenu.net/archive/ba... [xenu.net]

If it's a scale error then you are either 3, or a troll yourself.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

Re:I have a project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46866397)

Hey, I volunteer for Greenpeace (not the GP), and I am most certainly open to sensible discussion. The GP is just a normal troll, not necessarily associated to us :)

Re:I have a project (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46865669)

You might as well just ship Uranium or Plutonium directly to the terrorists

The positive side of that is that people are already shipping expensive rockets to terrorists and they just lay them down on bits of wood to launch instead of sticking them in tubes - thus making them less accurate than a rocket from the mid 1800s. What would such a person do with plutonium? The cleanup of a satellite crash in Canada showed how easy it would be to deal with a "dirty bomb" so that's not much of a problem.

Re:I have a project (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 4 months ago | (#46865795)

Chernobyl had the exact same effect of a very large dirty bomb. Probably at least 10 times the dirty bomb size predicted by likely terrorist scenarios. So far it killed around 100 people and caused a few thousand cancers.
Far from the scenarios of tens of thousands of deaths. Ok, so Chernobyl wasn't in Moscow or NYC, but the Green Peace alarmists managed to predict one million deaths.
Until nuclear regulatory agencies accept logical arguments that radiation safety standards are way too stringent it will lead to all of those absurdities.
The current radiation standards essentially consider living in Denver, SLC, in front of a Monazite beach too be an unacceptable risk to life.

Re:I have a project (0)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#46865853)

Alone the thyroid treated children in germany are already far over 10,000. So your claim about cancer rate (and death rate, considering that most of the few thousand clean up workers are dead since decades) is grossly wrong.

Re:I have a project (4, Insightful)

AlterEager (1803124) | about 4 months ago | (#46866203)

Alone the thyroid treated children in germany are already far over 10,000.

Given that the thyroid cancer rate in the US (for example) seems to be about 13 per 100,000 people year and the population of Germany is about 81 million we'd expect about 10,530 thyroid cancer cases in Germany per year.

So 10,000 cases in children since 1986 is pretty damn low.

Re:I have a project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46866545)

You are comparing apples and oranges: first, natural cancer incidence is different in different geographical locations. Second, you compared children thyroid cancer incidence with thyroid cancer incidence over an entire population. It should be logical that cancer rates should be lower for organisms with lower "mileage".

Re:I have a project (2)

confused one (671304) | about 4 months ago | (#46866963)

I'm sorry that anyone has to experience cancer, especially a child. I've personally been on the receiving end of one of those diagnosis. However, the statistics show that the cancer rates have not increased any statistically significant amount over the background rate. This has been verified by numerous studies by independent groups from different countries. I'm sure a handful of those cases are caused by the additional environmental pollution from Chernobyl; but, it's in the 10's range. The deaths of the clean up workers are mostly well documented. Thousands did not die; again, the number is in the 10's order of magnitude.

Re:I have a project (1)

Ghaoth (1196241) | about 4 months ago | (#46865791)

Your level of knowledge about nuclear power seems based on technology born of nuclear weapons. The world is trying to move on from that, although most people are blithely unaware of that fact. Modern nuclear power generation systems will assist in removing "bad" waste from old reactors. This should be a good thing but apparently you are so far in denial or suffer from lack of knowledge that you fail to understand this. I suggest that you never get on a boat in case you fall over the edge of the world.

Re:I have a project (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 4 months ago | (#46865905)

"unbelievably dangerous and radioactive fuel"

OMG, and they dig it up out of the ground!!!! Who put it there, that's what I want to know. Which bastard put this unbelievably dangerous rock under my feet!?!?!?!! We need to know so we can sue them for the irreparable damage to the environment they caused.

oh wait...

4th generation reactors help clean up the mess ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 4 months ago | (#46866075)

Various 4th generation reactors are under or about to begin construction. Proof of concept reactors are already operating.

Relative to current nuclear power plant technology, the claimed benefits for 4th generation reactors include:
Nuclear waste that remains radioactive for a few centuries instead of millennia
100-300 times more energy yield from the same amount of nuclear fuel
The ability to consume existing nuclear waste in the production of electricity
Improved operating safety
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org]

Of particular importance is that these 4th generation reactors can use as fuel the long lived very dangerous waster ***that we already possess*** and don't have good long term plans for.

Re:4th generation reactors help clean up the mess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46867487)

While the NIMBY people and the nuclear-luddites do their best to keep us well entrenched in the stone age [1], scientists are working on fifth gen reactors, as well as thorium reactors.

Comparing a modern, fourth or fifth gen reactor to the ones in production is similar to wanting to ban all cars because a Model T or a Trabent is unsafe.

We can go a long ways with this technology... right now, we are similar to where we were in the '60s when silicon started being doped and transistors came into common use. Just wait until the equivilent of ICs, VLSI, and other improvements kick in. However, until we get the paranoics out of the picture, we will still be using fossil fuels and ensuring that our subsequent generations have far less of a quality of life than we do.

[1]: Except for deaths per terawatt generated. Nuclear is insanely off the scale compared to everything else. 0.04 deaths are just too much compared to the reasonable 100 deaths/TW that coal has or the 36 of oil. People just don't die enough for nuclear for it to be viable. /sarcasm.

NASA: Nuclear has saved millions of lives ... (2, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | about 4 months ago | (#46866113)

"Using historical production data, we calculate that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning. On the basis of global projection data that take into account the effects of the Fukushima accident, we find that nuclear power could additionally prevent an average of 420,000-7.04 million deaths and 80-240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels by midcentury, depending on which fuel it replaces."
http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/... [nasa.gov]

Re:NASA: Nuclear has saved millions of lives ... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#46866557)

Since when was it ever about deaths? It's about money, and that is nuclear's Achilles' heel.

Re:NASA: Nuclear has saved millions of lives ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46866563)

If only. In reality, additional energy supply made fossil fuels even cheaper and thus increased their usage. The same will happen with hypothetical proliferation of renewable ("green") energy sources. The market alone can't solve that problem. Only a (hypothetical) global ban on fossil fuels could.

Re:I have a project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46867449)

So your argument against carbon-neutral energy production technology that we have now and that has been done successfully for decades, is "because TERRORISTS!?"

Are you fucking serious? Do you realize that all nuclear isotopes are not made equal, and "reactor grade" is far more common than "weapons grade"?

Do you have a fucking clue about any of this?

Re:I have a project (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865369)

That rant was all emotion-fuelled fallacies.
1) No-one was suggesting making "suitcase nukes" and sending them around, because nuclear bombs and reactors necessarily work differently. That's why the worst case scenario in a nuclear power plant is a meltdown, not a nuclear explosion.
2) Fukishima was not a nuclear disaster, it was a huge tsunami damaging a nuclear facility, complicating the existing natural disaster due to risks of radiation exposure. The technology being researched was not featured. There were also no terrorists (or unicorns or fairies) involved.
3) Nuclear fusion is promising and exciting but has net negative power production at the moment, as opposed to fission which has had massive net positive power production for a long time.
4) People researching small nuclear reactions want to merge Yahoo and Myspace to make megawatt xrays for bird watching? You'll have to ask your unicorns and fairies about this one because it doesn't sound like anything on this planet.
5) Spouting insults at people doesn't make them wrong nor you right.
There are real risks to using nuclear power, but if you are to ever understand them you need to calm down and accept their actual nature, scale and likelihood instead of conflating everything with the word "nuclear" in it with the explosion of nuclear weapons. As an advanced course you can compare individual approaches fairly to their practical alternatives (which all have their own issues) before making a judgement.

Re:I have a project (2)

fnj (64210) | about 4 months ago | (#46865623)

the worst case scenario in a nuclear power plant is a meltdown

A meltdown is bad enough. If serious enough, it means containment breach and release of radioactive contamination into the environment.

But actually we have living proof that meltdown is NOT the worst case scenario. I give you Chernobyl. You can have a steam and/or hydrogen gas explosion, scattering nuclear fuel rubble and other contamination all around. I give you Fukushima, another series of steam and/or hydrogen gas explosions involving scattering contamination. There have been other explosions.

Fukishima was not a nuclear disaster, it was a huge tsunami damaging a nuclear facility, complicating the existing natural disaster due to risks of radiation exposure.

RISK of exposure? How about very real documented exposure as a fact? I'll tell you what Fukushima is. Fukushima is a testament to the sad reality that, whatever you consider to be the worst scenario you deem it worthwhile to protect against, something much worse WILL beset your creation. The only question is when. That goes for natural events, human failings and ignorance, and human evildoing.

Re:I have a project (1)

JosKarith (757063) | about 4 months ago | (#46866155)

"Fukushima is a testament to the sad reality that stupid people will ignore safety protocols and keep an ageing reactor going for years after it should have been decomissioned because it's cheaper that way" - TFTFY.

Re:I have a project (1)

Uberbah (647458) | about 4 months ago | (#46866381)

Not so much. Fukishima could have been a year old and it wouldn't have made much of a difference. Because it wasn't designed to handle the sort of disaster that was geologically common to the area.

Re:I have a project (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about 4 months ago | (#46866511)

Fukushima is a testament to the sad reality that people who couldn't find their own asses if they had blinking neon signs pointing at them still get to make decisions about the safety measures for industrial installations.

Re:I have a project (5, Insightful)

Boronx (228853) | about 4 months ago | (#46865673)

Fukushima was a nuclear disaster. Even if you want to write off anything that happens because of Ma Nature, that doesn't matter since good management post-tsunami could have easily prevented the melt-down and massive release.

I'm sympathetic to the nuclear industry, but industry proponents really need to get a grip. Both Chernobyl and Fukushima were operated by morons. That just can't happen. It should never happen. There are plenty of smart folk, do what it takes to make sure one of them is in charge the next time a tsunami hits. Follow the damn regulations root out corruption. Bluster and sticking your head in the sand just isn't going to cut it anymore.

Re:I have a project (3, Funny)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#46866537)

If you can figure out how to remove corruption and stupidity from governmental and/or corporate organizations you'd probably get Nobel Prizes in several categories.

Re:I have a project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46866739)

Clueless is not the same as morons. Well informed and humble morons would probably fare much better. It is always: "Who'd thought THAT could happen (to us, geniuses)?" In Chernobyl, they were gamblers. In Fukushima, they were bureaucrats who covered their asses with scientists' guesses (which are never final).

But all that are just minor faults. The nuclear fission technology is insecure by design, because it concentrates all the energy (fuel) it will need in one place, and then it tries to slow the release down to the measure it can successfully dissipate. It is easier that way, because you don't want to refuel daily, because the fuel is dangerous to haul and keep around. It is like if we had natural mineral explosive substance (fuming and toxic too) that spontaneously goes off when you pile it up, but there is a way to put it in a slow-motion mode by adding something in the mix. However, if something interferes with the setup, or it releases too much energy in too short time, or you fail to remove the energy from it, it just blows and scatters around. Of course it will happen, eventually!

Nuclear engineers have to rethink the reactor. It has to be fed on the spoon, one little chunk a time, and it has to choke without adding anything, just by cutting off supply of something, be it nuclear fuel chunks, or neutrons from a fusion cell. NPINPO - No Power In, No Power Out!

Re:I have a project (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865377)

"megawatts of xrays"

You're a useless fucking toolbox with so little knowledge of anything the very best thing you can do for humanity is to hang yourself from the nearest load-capable tree branch. I mean it. Useless shitsacks like you have no business speaking, let alone breeding. You lower the mean IQ of the planet substantially. If branch is not available, smashing yourself in the head with the nearest acceptably massive object will also do.

Thank you for making Earth a better place.

Haven't thought that through yet have you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865387)

The"portable" reactors are encased in tons of concrete. And I'm pretty sure would be built so that WHEN a nuke-wanting country stole one as you say, a remote signal could "accidentally" trigger a nuclear detonation in whatever country they took it to...

Re:I have a project (1)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 4 months ago | (#46865439)

You're insane, but you have a point. The safety and security headaches this thing would cause would be formidable, even if it was only deployed in the USA. And there are newer, better nuclear technologies than PWR worth looking into. Frankly, I'm not in the least surprised, and quite happy, that they didn't get enough investors.

Re:I have a project (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 4 months ago | (#46865493)

At least SOMEONE gets it. SOMEONE lives in reality, which is precisely where terrorists have been proven to reside. If you take the amount of staff it would take to guard a small nuclear reactor so that the fuel isn't stolen and instead put those staff members of stationary bikes with alternators, you'd actually get more power than from the reactor. That's how fucking stupid of an idea this is. You might as well build an artificial black hole on Earth's surface, it's slightly safer.

Re:I have a project (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 4 months ago | (#46866667)

You're mad as a hatter.

Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (2, Informative)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 4 months ago | (#46865305)

Still insisting on the same basic concept that gave us reactors that use just 0,5% to 1% of mined uranium and have the concept of a meltdown.
Even the most advanced water cooled reactor today still does that.
B&W mPower reactor is just a smalled version of the same.
When will this people learn ?
We need a breeder / near breeder reactor that is able to use bare minimum 10% of uranium mined, or much more.
liquid fuel instead of solid fuel, with the fuel molten in the coolant means meltdowns are impossible and heavy neutron poisons (noble gas fission products) can be collected from the reactor quickly, resulting in minimal neutron losses, the lower the neutron losses are, the better the fuel burnup can be (increasing that 0,5% to 1% utilization to much higher levels), plus the less neutron poisons are kept in the reactor, the less excess reactivity exists on the reactor, minimizing the risk of prompt neutron criticality scenarios.
That's why I don't support any reactor except for molten salt or molten metal coolant designs.
The AP1000 and similar Gen III+ are plenty safe enough for my taste, but if you honestly discuss even the most remote risks a gen iii+ reactor with non technical people, they will still be against nuclear power. Plus water cooled reactors demand lots of expensive active safety systems like hydrogen+oxygen recombinants, pressurizer, emergency spray, emergency water injection, the list goes on, making the reactor far more expensive than necessary. Perhaps with the mPower being a much lower power reactor, it can do away without some of those systems, but they can't all be eliminated unless the reactor has low pressure operation (only possible with molten salt or molten metal cores).

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865315)

When will this people learn ?

When you demo your brilliant design that doesn't suffer from those problems, and from all the problems that your panacea has. Let me know when you schedule your presentation, thanks.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (-1)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 4 months ago | (#46865373)

I'm not an anymous coward hiding his name to take pot shots at things he doesn't like and doesn't understand.
There are at least a dozen serious molten salt / molten metal nuclear projects worldwide.
If you don't know them, then I have zero reason to write another sentence. You show not even a hint of knowing about them, goodbye.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865411)

Stop being smarmy. You didn't have to take a pot shot at them for being an "anymous" coward, just for being a dipshit. It makes you come across as a dickhead too when you try to act superior when you don't even have to.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 4 months ago | (#46865881)

AC posts ignorance and expects everyone to worship him. You didn't contribute anything but negativity to the discussion. You didn't even give a reason why his comment wouldn't work. You gave us nothing.

At least the OP had some interesting points that could be worth looking up on Google at the least that helped educate me a little.

You, gave me about as much information as your average (no, your below-average) politician.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46866811)

Please, you are an Anonymous Coward. Think about it for a while. Thank you.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865475)

There are at least a dozen serious molten salt / molten metal nuclear projects worldwide.

There are at least a dozen experimental molten salt/molten metal nuclear projects worldwide. All of them have produced extremely expensive, extremely fragile reactors that require very complex infrastructure even compared to 'normal' nuclear plants.

It is a small surprise that despite the huge amounts of money spent on these toys there are no commercially viable MSRs on offer. Actually, in all likelihood, even the ITER debacle will produce a commercial reactor before there is a viable MSR offering.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865589)

-one ac to another... look at the real costs of those reactors and when they were built.

They are easy to make if we pulled our heads collectively out of our asses.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (1)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 4 months ago | (#46865593)

You have to distinguish between molten salt coolant and molten salt fuel. The latter of which are MSRE-type or LFTR-type designs. I don't think the criticisms you mentioned apply to the latter.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 4 months ago | (#46865641)

his comment may or may not be stupid, but its anonymity has nothing to do with it.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (1)

Beck_Neard (3612467) | about 4 months ago | (#46865463)

If you google 'molten salt reactor' there's plenty of research that has been done in this area. At the very least, pointing out your specific criticisms of molten salt reactors would lead to a more productive argument.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865613)

I'm a different anonymous.... But what I've read is that the high temperature molten salts corrode and make the pipes brittle. Maybe that can be fixed by some redesigning, but it is something that needs to be figured out and studied.

And if it isn't a problem, then the nuclear scientists need to go on record saying that it isn't and they aren't seeing the problem in the real world.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (1)

mbkennel (97636) | about 4 months ago | (#46865655)


They're terrible engineering designs for some major reasons.

You have an exceptionally radioactive LIQUID in normal operation. Every nuclear plant is a reprocessing plant. Historically reprocessing, meaning chemical engineering of complex radioactive caustic liquids was always the nastiest, ugliest and messiest part.

I do trust locals to run a solid-state reactor if there's a powerful safety regulator permanently on site whose paycheck does not depend on profitability, e.g. somebody who came from the nuclear Navy---where they have a no mistakes philosophy.

But not having every reactor be a chemical reprocessing plant. There Will Be Leaks and screwups.

The small PWRs solve the major safety problem by having a larger surface area to volume ratio, so they cool down better on their own by physics, before the decay heat builds up to melt the structures in the core.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (1)

QuantumPion (805098) | about 4 months ago | (#46866693)

When will this people learn ?

When you demo your brilliant design that doesn't suffer from those problems, and from all the problems that your panacea has. Let me know when you schedule your presentation, thanks.

Um, we already have. EBR-II [wikipedia.org] started in 1965 [youtube.com] , and it worked perfectly for 30 years until it was shut down by Clinton in 1995.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#46865891)

This project demonstrates why we don't have breeder reactors. There is no money, no-one wants to invest. The demand just isn't there, with several countries moving away from nuclear or looking likely to downsize. The financial risks are huge.

Other types of reactor all have their own issues, which further add to the financial risk investors are looking at. On the other hand you have renewables that are in high demand, where the market place is still open for people to come in and take a share, and where the risks are relatively low.

Glossing over the technical challenges and blaming people for an imagined irrational fear of nuclear power isn't helping the situation. If you want new breeder reactors go and find someone willing to throw $10bn at what is basically a research project.

Re:Still a water cooled, solid fuel reactor (1)

confused one (671304) | about 4 months ago | (#46866821)

I'm not disagreeing with you on the basic premises; we should be moving the tech forward. You need to stop worrying about the pressurized system though, and stop using that as a reason to not build more nuclear plants. Conventional fossil fuel plants (modern ones) operate at higher pressures and temperatures than nuclear power plants, where they have traditionally maintained lower temperatures, intentionally, because of the limitations of the zirconium cladding. The risk of failure of the pressurized system can be mitigated, and is in many of the Gen III+ systems that you mention. In a molten salt plant, the complexity and safety system requirements are just as bad for different reasons.

Fuel utilization is a problem... I think that can be improved, in the short term, by building more heavy water plants like CANDU. I'm not particularly a CANDU fanatic; CANDU plants have had issues with capacity factor. The design does have additional safety factors built in, can burn up more of the available fuel, and has shown a certain flexibility. Unfortunately, they're concentrating on building bigger plants, pushing toward 1200MWe in their advertised Gen III+ design, and not working on smaller modular designs.

Boondoggle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865325)

To whom it may concern,

Feel free to compete in the FREE MARKET...Nuclear or Fossils fuel...! ;-)

the,
Solar Industry

Re:Boondoggle? (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 4 months ago | (#46865361)

Get rid of all subsidies and solar is in big trouble. Easy to talk about competition while you are enjoying huge subsidies. Yes, other forms of electricity gets subsidies too. I would be fine with removing every single subsidy from just coal and letting the market take its course.
You would see a surge in nuclear power projects, because solar isn't baseload and baseload is here to stay.

Re:Boondoggle? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865505)

Get rid of all subsidies and solar is in big trouble. Easy to talk about competition while you are enjoying huge subsidies.

Get rid of all subsidies and guarantees, and nuclear is in even bigger trouble. If a nuke plant has to get an insurance that covers the costs of a Fukushima-sized accident in the private market, even given the small probability of it happening, it won't get built.

The reason we have nuclear power is because the governments have assumed all related risks.

Mostly in a dumb move to try to offset the huge costs of producing nuclear weapons.

Gee... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865351)

...maybe it's because 400 million dollars later you have nothing to show for it. Who the fuck wants to throw another 600 million at a project that is clearly not going anywhere?

That's because there's already one on the market (4, Informative)

virtualXTC (609488) | about 4 months ago | (#46865367)

That's because investors don't want to develop a product to compete with something that already exists [fastcompany.com] (and is very well funded) but is having regulatory issues:

Nuclear proliferation is a bitch ain't it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865371)

Every nuclear power setback is directly tied to paranoid maniacs who immediately start thinking about nuclear weapons and how it might destabilize the carefully-cultivated balance of power that keeps the US at the top.

Re:Nuclear proliferation is a bitch ain't it (2, Insightful)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 4 months ago | (#46865417)

It has something to do with public negative perception about nuclear power, but it isn't the real driving force. The reason the NRC has become itself anti nuclear is far more related to the millions US politicians gets from fossil fuel lobbies instead. Too many presidents have appointed people to the NRC that are committed to making nuclear power as expensive as possible. Plus it's not like the FAA is much better, I heard a saying that summarizes the FAA pretty darn well "We're not happy until you're unhappy", the NRC is far worse.

Molten Salt's coming. (3, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | about 4 months ago | (#46865415)

Given the work China and India are doing on molten-salt Thorium cycle reactors, I can't see why anyone would spend another dime on a pressurized water reactor again.

-jcr

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (4, Interesting)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 4 months ago | (#46865449)

India is decades away. Perhaps China might make it happen before 2030. A big part of China and India's effort is an academic / jobs program. I'm not saying they are incompetent, but they are not results focused. I'm hoping to seeing the first molten salt reactor circa 2025, in commercial operation. For now I'm going out on a limb, but a few years we'll know the credibility of that project with more certainty.
I'm talking about Terrestrial Energy Inc of Canada, Dr. David LeBlanc brainchild. His molten salt presentations are the most end goal oriented ones, focusing very clearly on getting to the market instead of selling an optimal idea. Giving up many optional features for minimizing certification issues to the greatest extent possible. Focusing on the minimum design that will be usable with an order of magnitude better fuel burnup, safety, simplicity and cost than typical large water cooled reactors. The full LFTR design is a great idea, filled with design challenges and regulatory issues along the way. Dr LeBlanc design is derived from the ORNL DMSR. LFTR design as advocated by FLiBe energy is on the other end of the spectrum.

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 4 months ago | (#46865689)

India is has almost completed construction of what you say is "decades away".

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (0)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 4 months ago | (#46865799)

India has been working on thorium since the 1970s. Their Thorium program looks like Fusion research.

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (1)

AlterEager (1803124) | about 4 months ago | (#46866303)

India is has almost completed construction of what you say is "decades away".

Are you talking about the PFR at Kalpakkam [wikipedia.org] ?

Or the AHWR at Bhabha [wikipedia.org] ?

Because neither of them is a molten salt reactor.

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (2)

12WTF$ (979066) | about 4 months ago | (#46865595)

Molten Salt's coming. Patented to the hilt by the worlds biggest patent troll.

Given the work China and India are doing on molten-salt Thorium cycle reactors, I can't see why anyone would spend another dime on a pressurized water reactor again.

Given the patent portfolio that Nathan Mordvold holds on molten-salt Thorium cycle reactors, I can't see why anyone can afford to spend another minute thinking that thorium is going to be economic.

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865793)

Molten Salt's coming. Patented to the hilt by the worlds biggest patent troll.

Given the work China and India are doing on molten-salt Thorium cycle reactors, I can't see why anyone would spend another dime on a pressurized water reactor again.

Given the patent portfolio that Nathan Mordvold holds on molten-salt Thorium cycle reactors, I can't see why anyone can afford to spend another minute thinking that thorium is going to be economic.

As if China or India is going to care about patent trolls from the US, particularly in strategic areas like energy production.

India already gave the finger to big pharm in the US when it comes to live-saving drugs, what makes you think they won't do the same to patent trolls when it comes to building power plants?

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (1)

jcr (53032) | about 4 months ago | (#46865885)

Heh... I can just imagine Myhrvold trying to enforce a patent against the Chinese government in China.

-jcr

Reply to self for clarification (0)

12WTF$ (979066) | about 4 months ago | (#46866057)

I can't see why anyone can afford to spend another minute thinking that thorium is going to be economic.

further clarification: economic in the US and its vassal states tied by such shackles as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

When China and/or India (smirk) start running a major portion of their economy on "pure green clean thorium" I expect the US will implement a raft of hasty patent reform bills, maybe with IV facing RICO charges as inducement to turn over thorium patents for the "benefit of mankind"/national security.

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (3, Insightful)

mbkennel (97636) | about 4 months ago | (#46865661)


Because there are engineering designs for pressurized water reactors which work and decades of experience making them, and molten-salt cycle reactors intrinsically dissolve large amounts of high-level waste in a liquid in normal operation---(water soluble too sometimes)---and make every nuclear plant also a horrifyingly nasty radioactive reprocessing plant.

I'm for fission (not because it's great but because coal and global warming are much worse), but I like my megacuries encased in zirconium, and very solid.

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (5, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#46865907)

I can't see why anyone would spend another dime on a pressurized water reactor again.

Because so far no-one has managed to demonstrate a successful commercial scale thorium reactor. All the research ones have run into severe problems. There are still many technical problems to be solved, which will require a lot of money. The only people willing to take on that kind of risk are governments looking to build a nuclear industry and research base from scratch, i.e. China and India.

Even if China or India do demonstrate a working design don't expect to see it in the US any time soon. One of the biggest problems is decommissioning a highly contaminated reactor at the end of its life, and so far it looks like they are saying they will figure that out "later". Good luck getting that past any other country's regulator.

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (3, Insightful)

AlterEager (1803124) | about 4 months ago | (#46866335)

I can't see why anyone would spend another dime on a pressurized water reactor again.

Because so far no-one has managed to demonstrate a successful commercial scale thorium reactor.

Lots of people seem to think that all thorium reactors are molten salt.

No.

People are planning/have already tried burning Thorium in:

Pebble bed reactors
CANDU
Sodium cooled breeders
PWR's
BWR's
Accelerator driven reactors...

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#46866549)

Sure, but name one in commercial operation by a for-profit company (because the US would never stand for the government doing it) that uses Thorium as its primary fuel, and gets all the purported benefits that are often mentioned on Slashdot like being impossible to melt down.

Re:Molten Salt's coming. (1)

confused one (671304) | about 4 months ago | (#46866857)

Because most of the worlds infrastructure centers around supplying pressurized and boiling water designs? You'd have to invest in new infrastructure in addition to new reactors...

Small is silly (1)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 4 months ago | (#46865469)

Direct money toward large nuclear reactors!

Who the hell wants a ton of little reactors all over the place that when they run out of fuel we basically bury it and hope no one stumbles upon it.

Stick with the big plants, just use the new safer designs and BUILD them. This was a complete waste of money. This idea was never going to fly and still won't. As a strong proponent of nuclear power, I don't even like this idea (due to the waste left behind.)

Re:Small is silly (-1, Flamebait)

12WTF$ (979066) | about 4 months ago | (#46865625)

Direct money toward large nuclear reactors!

Yes.Now.Do It.

Because they've burnt through all the trillion$ already thrown at them.

Cannot the Fed just install the printing presses on site so that the newly minted Benjamins tip directly into the nuclear core?

Solar burns Hydrogen to produce Helium, generating clean e- and hot water.
Wind bumps off a few birds and produces lots of pain for incumbent generators
Thermal burns coal/gas/oil to produce CO2 and will cook the planet before too long (your opinion may vary)
Nuclear just burns lots of money and a tiny bit of Uranium and "aint going hurt anyone in 200,000 years time".

Re:Small is silly (1, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | about 4 months ago | (#46866533)

They are wanted for two reasons.

1. small is cheaper. You can build a 100MW reactor for much less than you can build a 1500MW. It costs less to refuel. When it does go down for maintenance or repairs, it costs less to replace the power it was producing (the scale of the backup plant capacity is smaller). We are having problems getting the high cost 1500MW plants built; so, by making the cost an order of magnitude lower, it is hoped we can get the industry moving forward again

2. Cost savings, consistency in manufacturing and standardization. All the existing plants, even if they are based on a standard design, are one off custom implementations. Everything is built on-site. There is limited standardization. By making the plants in the 100 MW range, you can build the components in an assembly line and put them on a truck or train. You get all the benefits of standardized fixturing and manufacturing. Costs would go down due to stable volume production. When capacity needed to be expanded you could order another system.

Efficiency would suffer -- you'll probably get better efficiency from the big reactor -- and I'm willing to admit that. However, you'll get zero efficiency when you can't get anyone to fund a 1500MW reactor.

Before you go off and say it's not possible to build reactors on an "assembly line". I'm 5 miles from a shipyard that turns out a nuclear powered submarine per year. They're Navy spec reactors of roughly the same scale, fueled to run for 30 or 40 years. Components, including fuel, are brought in via train. It is proof that it can be done.

Re:Small is silly (1)

confused one (671304) | about 4 months ago | (#46866573)

I missed a point. You're assuming that the small reactors are abandoned when they use up their fuel load. I've seen a few ideas come out of industry source that suggest that's possible using reactors in the 10-50MWt range; but, I think they're only intending to leave the reactor long enough to cool down, as they do now with spent fuel, moving it to temporary storage in pools. The intent of most of the small modular reactors is to refuel them. Even the little 10MW Toshiba 4S design was advertised as designed to be sent back to the factory for fuel recycling.

20 miles from me are 3 incomplete reactors (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46865511)

They were in a rush to get them up, a popular story was the critical job of building the dome to one of them, 24 hour round the clock overtime to gold plate that puppy. A friend of mine was studying to operate the reactors when in class they were told to grab their stuff as they no longer had a job and don't let the door swing into you on the way out. The dome was later cut up and sold as salvage, as was the rest of the equipment used.

"Energy Northwest (formerly Washington Public Power Supply System) is a United States public power joint operating agency formed by State law in 1957 to produce at-cost power for Northwest utilities. Headquartered in Richland, Washington, the WPPSS became commonly known as "Whoops" due to over-commitment to nuclear power in the 1970s which brought about financial collapse and the second largest municipal bond default in U.S. history."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]

A lot of people got hurt over that one.

"$2.25 billion. Washington State. Bonds issued to finance a nuclear power plant defaulted. Bondholders recovered about 40 percent of their principal and interestnearly 10 years later."

http://money.usnews.com/money/... [usnews.com]

pee on it all Buy / Go Long Geiger counters / el (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865567)

steak powered xfce4-xfapplet-plugin missing linux mint but good god a garden man ;o)

tax ppl are old world

Even China and US Can get along if they just act like regular neighbors, that's the truth! But ya know what I don't owe china, and if there's going to be land, then let's allow frickin the ppl to decide what land we do or don't give up. Not this BS electronicic vot fraud/electoral vote fraud

Small reactors (1)

willoughby (1367773) | about 4 months ago | (#46865571)

Some small nuclear reactors can be quite stable and run for a long time...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

TMI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865721)

the builders of the reactor that failed at Three Mile Island can't get funding for a new reactor design.

booo hoo

Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46865819)

The cost is probably much less, considering the same division makes very similar products (probably maybe even REEEEAAALLY similar) AND won a big percentage of the posted (in this article) price in a government grant. The reason is that the company wants outside investors is because it wasn't getting a $15mil/year match from uncle sam. Always invest someone else's money. /AC for a reason, former labor pool

Couldn't think of a better name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46866071)

Seriously, why is it every power generation and transmission technology known to man is called mPower. Yeah, we get it, it's like empower but without the e...that was cool the first 100 million times.

Too Little, Too Late (4, Insightful)

JabrTheHut (640719) | about 4 months ago | (#46866523)

If they think there will be any need for this by the mid-2020s, they're in for a rude awakening and a nasty financial loss.

Solar panels have dropped in price by 65% in the last two years. They're expecting another 60% price drop by 2020, and efficiency isn't being sacrificed - it's only getting better, with 25% being achieved in the lab now. Research is also much cheaper - researchers ask for grants such as $5 million or $15 million, not the $1 billion mentioned in the article.

Combine wind farms, hydro power, solar thermal, and the recent improvements with storing energy, both as potential energy and in batteries, and I doubt any one will want to invest in "small" nuclear reactors, either now or 10 years from now. Solar panels aren't the fix for everything, but they will make it uneconomical to put in place big, expensive nuclear reactors, which are only small and cheap by comparison to even bigger ones.

Re:Too Little, Too Late (2)

confused one (671304) | about 4 months ago | (#46866899)

We're not going to be there in 10 years. While it is theoretically possible to supply all our energy needs through a combination of renewables (excluding nuclear, which is often included as a renewable), capacity factor has been a problem. Even with storage, you can't make up for the capacity factor issue. The infrastructure investment requirements are also huge. We will still need big base load plants and nuclear fits that bill quite well.

Re:Too Little, Too Late (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 4 months ago | (#46866959)

Solar panels have dropped in price by 65% in the last two years. They're expecting another 60% price drop by 2020, and efficiency isn't being sacrificed - it's only getting better, with 25% being achieved in the lab now
And they only generate power about 6 hours a day and not at peak need times. BTW peak need is between 5 and 7 pm not at solar noon.
PVs are not the problem storage is and that is not improving anywhere near as fast. Throw in clouds, rain, and or snow and you should see the issue.
Nuclear makes power 24/7. Solar is not as cheap as nuclear and again the limited generation time is an issue. The molten salt storage thermal can store power but they are a lot more expensive per kwh and not really going to work in many locations. For instance New York and Boston.
Nuclear and the new 4th gen and 5th gen reactors are the way to go.

Re:Too Little, Too Late (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 months ago | (#46867119)

Solar panels have dropped in price by 65% in the last two years.

How much of that is due to Chinese dumping?

Re:Too Little, Too Late (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 4 months ago | (#46867467)

> How much of that is due to Chinese dumping?

About 10%. The real driver is the almost zero cost of pSi, who's market price is completely determined by supply/demand. Additional supply is coming on this year, everyone's expecting widespread availability in retail in the 50 to 60 cent range. To put this in perspective, in spite of PV being installed at record rates last year, the total amount of cash used to do it fell about 10%.

> efficiency isn't being sacrificed - it's only getting better, with 25% being achieved in the lab now

I put panels on my first house in 2010 and they were 230W. The exact same panel is now 270 to 280W. That's a 20% real-world improvement in four years.

> We're not going to be there in 10 years
> We will still need big base load plants and nuclear fits that bill quite well

Sure, and the time from planning to the first electrons coming out is over 10 years. So while you're still talking about the problem, the PV and wind guys will have put in about 1 TWp (91 GW went in last year, it's going to be more this year). That's three times the total worldwide nuclear fleet.

It's all about interest rates, believe it or not. Nuclear plants simply take too long to build. You have to pay for years and years of interest before you get any income. In contrast, PV systems in Germany take 2 weeks, end to end, on average. The output may be lower, but the ROI kicks ass.

Not Part Of The Solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46867243)

Then, they're part of the problem. The problem being, uncleanable nuclear waste. Virtually permanent biocontamination. And some interesting charge-enhanced mechanical effects.
Why not develop better cleaning and containment. Without fucking everything up as they always do. Then claim it wasn't their fault. They can't do more than far from enough. And dump (often literally) the mess in the environment, and on society.
A pity they don't "innovate" in cleanup and prevention. The vapor-stuff they're trying to hawk will still be criminally poisonous. And they'll do their best to also make it genocidal, and deny it, as usual.

Right, like (0)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 4 months ago | (#46867383)

"which have been hailed as the next step forward for the nuclear power industry"

Yes, after the same was claimed for Gen II reactors, fast-breeders, liquid-metal reactors, gas-cooled reactors, heavy water reactors, pebble-bed reactors, travelling-wave reactors, and any number of variations on thorium.

Wake me when someone actually builds one and we can see if the product lives up to the hype.

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