Mini Nuclear Power Plants the Size of a Phone Booth-Buried Underground


Mini Nuclear Power Plants the Size of a Phone Booth-Buried Underground

15 October 2008 at 9:51:02 AM

The PR *renaissance* meme pushing Mini-Nukes. According to Kiplinger Reports, these are hot tub size mini-reactors that can poswer a town of about 25,000 homes. But the reactors won\'t be in towns, gee why not, but instead be in remote spots (like, um, rural counties?) to do heavy industrial uses, like oil extraction or water desalination.  I was wondering about what exactly this is and how it would work, and found this.  The nuclear power plant would be BURIED UNDERGROUND.

A small portable nuclear reactor about the size of a phone booth could be the key to securing America\'s energy future. The Hyperion nuclear battery is filled with an uranium hydride core and surrounded by a hydrogen atmosphere. The self sufficient nuclear generator is simply buried underground and hooked up to a steam turbine it generates enough electricity to power a 25,000-home community for at least five years.

Out of sight, out of mind.


The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer a group of 700 labs, set up by Congress to promote “technology transfer” activities between the public and private sectors, honored Peterson’s invention as an “Outstanding Technology Development” in October 2003 at its conference in Hawaii. Now retired from LANL, Peterson has become the chief scientist for Hyperion, Blackwell says.

Blackwell is a director of Purple Mountain Ventures, a self-described “adventure capital” firm specializing in commercial development of LANL technology. Purple Mountain also is the financial backer behind The Company for Information Visualization and Analysis (CIVA), a local company developing LANL pandemic modeling software. Hyperion’s reactor, though, has the potential to solve the energy crisis, according to Blackwell.

“The lab is doing a lot of work on oil shales and oil sands, but there’s no way to get power to those facilities,” Blackwell says. “So, this nuclear battery would be brought in and that would provide the power to run a small city of industrial use.”

Blackwell also envisions that the battery could be used at military bases, as well as in the developing world, where poverty is a product of a lack of electricity and clean drinking water.

Here\'s on the Toshiba Mini-Reactor, which is 20 feet by 6 feet. (Maybe your neighbor who has lots o cash to spare would put one in his backyard?)

The 200 kilowatt Toshiba designed reactor is engineered to be fail-safe and totally automatic and will not overheat. Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy.

Toshiba expects to install the first reactor in Japan in 2008 and to begin marketing the new system in Europe and America in 2009 on powering your home with a mini-nuclear reactor

And Ford even has designed a prototype car that has a miniature nuclear reactor in the trunk!

Ford’s engineers imagined full-service recharging stations in place of gas-stations, where depleted reactors cores could be swapped out for fresh ones. The car’s reactor setup was basically just like a nuclear submarine’s, only smaller. It was designed to use uranium fission to heat a steam generator, rapidly converting water into high-pressure steam which could then be used to drive a set of turbines. One steam turbine would provide the torque to propel the car while another would drive an electrical generator. The steam would then condense back into water in a cooling coil, and be sent back to the steam generator to be reused. It’s a closed system, so as long as there is some radioactive material in there, it’s good to go. No emissions, except for the eventual nuclear waste.

Let\'s see, WHERE is that nuclear waste gonna go? Oh, right, dumped into the Guadalupe River or shipped out to Andrews County, Texas where the residents there apparently will take any kind of radioactive waste.

Now, I am only reading a bunch of hype about this currently and have no idea of the pros and cons on a realistic basis. But I will say that I \'m good and tired of dangerous crap getting buried in the ground. It doesn\'t seem like such a swift idea to buy NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS in your backyard. Or suppose YOU like it but your neighbor doesn\'t. Would you be able to just put all your neighbors at potential risk because YOU want your own generation plant? Although it looks like the NIMBY (Not in MY BackYard) factors in here, where maybe YOu Live in a Hoity-Toity area but you get your energy from some rural community. (Ever seen the Oblongs cartoons?)

And NONE of the nuclear power plant ideas, and including stuff like cars with nuclear generators, solve the problem of radioactive waste. Maybe YOU don\'t care because you believe the waste isn\'t going to be around YOU. So it\'s okay to send that waste off somewhere else and let THOSE people suffer the effects. Right.

UPDATE 3/24/2011. We were amused this morning to read that Energy Secretary Chu thinks conventional reactors aren't safe enough around cities. heh. How far is Fort Worth from Glen Rose? Or Waco?

Conventional nuclear reactors may not be safe enough to operate near cities—if you take Energy Secretary Steven Chu at his word—but small module reactors are “much, much safer,” he said at a Pew Environment Group forum in Washington this afternoon.

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1 - cindyrae   23 Oct 2008 @ 1:18:36 PM 

We are the SEED (Sustainable Energy and Economic Development) Coalition and, along with Texas Public Citizen, are interested in meeting with local individuals and groups which would like to organize against allowing Luminant to build two new reactors at the Comanche Peak site.  These two reactors are of a design, the USAPWR, which has not been certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and is not scheduled for certification until 2012.  Yet Luminant has applied for a Combined Operating License Application (COLA) to build it now, anticipating that it will be certified. Luminant submitted its COLA in September, and is hoping it will be approved before Dec. 31, when the federal government's loan guarantee program runs out.  If it is approved Luminant would be eligible for the $18.5 billion in loan guarantees and subsidies the federal government has already approved but which runs out this year.

We would like to meet with anyone in the area who is also interested in this issue.  We can be contacted the following ways:

SEED Coalition:

Karen Hadden                              Cindy Weehler                                       


512-637-9481                                      512-637-9482    

512-797-8481                                     210-367-8510                             

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