Say nuclear reactor in the Carolinas and you are likely to think big. Size, cost, time to build. Maybe even controversial.
Maybe in the past, but not the future. Here’s something to think about.
Our nation has had ocean-going ships powered by nuclear energy for decades. No one sees a huge nuclear plant on the seas. Why not adapt the technology onto land?
“Enter the small modular reactor, designed to allow several reactors to be combined into one unit,” says WIRED magazine. (Right) “Need a modest amount of energy? Install just a few modules. Want to fuel a sprawling city? Tack on several more. … Because they are small, these reactors can be mass-produced and shipped to any location in a handful of pieces.”
Lots of people – energy professionals, environmentalists, and policymakers – agree that carbon-free nuclear power is a key to a better climate.
What has to happen to get this going? It has started. Research is happening. The federal government needs to move along more ably.
A nuclear plant is carbon-free when running, but what about the entire footprint? “All energy sources cause some level of pollution, whether it be during construction, fabrication, mining for fuel, or electricity production. On average, nuclear power plants produce similar amounts of greenhouse gas emission as wind turbines, and much less than solar, oil, natural gas, and coal power production.” That is according to The Future of Small Modular Reactors in the US.
But think smaller. “The Department of Energy is also interested in microreactors, a ‘plug and play’ nuclear plant that usually generates less than 50 megawatts of power. Whereas small modular reactors are better suited to industrial processes and other large power loads, microreactors are ideal for smaller needs like powering a remote military base or keeping the lights on in an isolated Alaskan community,” says WIRED. municipal facilities like airports in Charlotte, Raleigh or Columbia? Maybe universities or hospital complexes?
ECC suggests that the Carolinas think small-scale nuclear. Take the lead in this. SMR’s are a promising technology. Companies in the Southeast have nuclear knowledge. Put that knowledge to work and create more carbon-free energy.
Read more about it: The infographic, left, is from “The BIG Potential for Nuclear Microreactors” from the Department of Energy.
And even more…
The headline is this: NASA Found Another Way Into Nuclear Fusion. When we say small, this is small! Here is the first paragraph if the story: “NASA has unlocked nuclear fusion on a tiny scale, with a phenomenon called lattice confinement fusion that takes place in the narrow channels between atoms. In the reaction, the common nuclear fuel deuterium gets trapped in the “empty” atomic space in a solid metal. What results is a Goldilocks effect that’s neither supercooled nor superheated, but where atoms reach fusion-level energy.”
Nuclear energy keeps evolving, and as a source of carbon-free energy that is good for the world.