The Generation Professionals Group is for utility professionals who work in biomass, coal, gas/oil, hydro, natural gas, or nuclear power generation fields. 

Post

2021 to Usher in Big Safety Advances in Small Nuclear Packages

image credit: © Dirk Ercken | Dreamstime.com
Francesco Venneri's picture
CEO Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp.

Francesco has more than 30 years of experience as a nuclear engineer and plasma physics specialist. Starting his career at Los Alamos National Laboratories, he rose to the position of Chief...

  • Member since 2021
  • 2 items added with 1,411 views
  • Feb 3, 2021 4:45 pm GMT
  • 1253 views

This item is part of the Special Issue - 2021-01 - State of the Industry, click here for more

The dawn of small and micro nuclear reactors brings with it the promise of

reliable, commercially viable energy in a safer form factor. A new generation of smaller reactors will gain traction in 2021 and demonstrate the big advantages of a smaller approach.

The new designs of small modular reactors (SMRs) and micro modular reactors (MMRs) provide inherent safety. The most advanced of these reactors feature walk-away designs. In the case of an accident, the physics of the reactor do not allow it to melt down, as all heat dissipates passively into the environment, no matter the scenario.

Your access to Member Features is limited.

The method of cooling advanced reactors has also been designed for safer operation. For example, several small reactor systems use helium for the transfer of heat. As an inert gas that’s radiologically transparent with no flashing or boiling possible, helium does not react chemically with the fuel or reactor core components. It is easy to accurately measure and control the helium pressure in the reactor.

Perhaps the most advanced safety innovations in nuclear energy are taking place at the fuel level. A next-generation TRISO particle fuel design, called Fully Ceramic Micro-Encapsulated fuel (FCM), will replace the 50-year-old graphite matrix of traditional TRISO fuel with Silicon Carbide (SiC), a material used in tank armor that is extremely resistant to radiation and thermal damage. The result is a safer nuclear fuel that can withstand higher temperatures and more radiation.

The SiC matrix in FCM fuel provides a dense, gas-tight barrier preventing the escape of fission products even if a TRISO particle should rupture during operation. The new matrix improves the structural and containment characteristics of TRISO particles, trapping and sealing radioactive fission products permanently, preventing contamination of the environment.

The fuel safety margin is so large that fission product retention is accomplished entirely by the fuel; no other containment is needed. There are no sudden temperature rises – the reactor shuts down naturally in all accident conditions.

The advances we will witness in 2021 will set the stage for a new era of safer nuclear energy, ushered in through a new generation of small and micro modular reactor designs.

Francesco Venneri's picture
Thank Francesco for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member
Discussions
Spell checking: Press the CTRL or COMMAND key then click on the underlined misspelled word.
Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Feb 3, 2021

The fuel safety margin is so large that fission product retention is accomplished entirely by the fuel; no other containment is needed. There are no sudden temperature rises – the reactor shuts down naturally in all accident conditions.

The advances we will witness in 2021 will set the stage for a new era of safer nuclear energy, ushered in through a new generation of small and micro modular reactor designs.

This is exciting-- it sounds like the technology is where it needs to be. That does leave the question, though, of where we are in terms of political viability and public perception? The safety needs to be understood and believed to get buy in where it's needed, right? And there's such a knee-jerk reaction sometimes-- how can the industry best work to fight against those misconceptions today using this newer and improved tech? 

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Feb 5, 2021

A new generation of smaller reactors will gain traction in 2021 and demonstrate the big advantages of a smaller approach.

When do you think reactors with these advances will actually provide power to a commercial grid? 

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »