Hyperion Power Generation, Inc., (HPG) with the assistance of Los Alamos National Laboratory, is developing and commercializing a small, factory-sealed, mass-produced, transportable nuclear power module that is uniquely safe and proliferation-resistant. The technology utilizes and builds upon similar features of the 60+ TRIGA training reactors that have been safely operated for years in universities and laboratories around the globe. Current identified applications include industrial use (oil shale & sand retorting), power for military installation, homeland security, emergency disaster response, and remote community and infrastructure. As of September 9, 2008, HPG has ten installation commitments and 50 pending. The first HPG reactors should be ready in 2013. The cost of the reactors will be about $1400/kw. After 5 years, each reactor would have a softball size amount of waste. The uranium hydride reactor can burn up to 50% of the uranium or about ten times more than current reactors.
NASA made news with a proposed 10-40KWe RTG for lunar power. Nasa history for actually delivering higher power RTGs is not good. They tried in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Something better that could be available in 2013 when the non-nuclear components of nasa system would be tested is a hot tub sized uranium hydride molten core nuclear reactor that should produce 27 MWe. This is about one thousand times more powerful than what NASA’s proposed lunar power system, comparable in size and the Hyperion reactor has no moving parts.
Three factories, spread across the globe are planned by the company to produce and ship the approximately 4,000 units of the first design. (4,000 small units would generate more nuclear power than the 104 nuclear reactors currently used in the United States. 108 GW for 4000 HPG uranium hydride reactors versus 98GW in the US now). Inherently safe and proliferation-resistant, the HPM utilizes the energy of low-enriched uranium fuel. Each unit produces 70 megawatts of thermal energy, or 27 megawatts of electricity when connected to a steam turbine. That amount is enough to provide electricity for 20,000 average-size American-style homes or the industrial equivalent. first sales commitments have come from companies building residential and mixed-use developments in Europe. This has been good because the HPM (Hyperion Power Module), meeting all the non-proliferation criteria of GNEP, is an excellent solution for any location. This new technology, encompassing the simple concepts of the world’s very safe training reactors that have been in operation for decades, makes it possible to deliver continuous clean, emission-free energy with only a fraction of the human oversight and financial investment required by conventional nuclear power stations.
The Hyperion Power Generations new, small, transportable nuclear “battery” was presented at International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 52nd General Conference in Vienna, Austria.
TRIGA is a pool-type reactor that can be installed without a containment building, and is designed for use by scientific institutions and universities for purposes such as undergraduate and graduate education, private commercial research, non-destructive testing and isotope production.
The TRIGA reactor uses uranium-zirconium-hydride (UZrH) fuel, which has a large, prompt negative thermal coefficient of reactivity, meaning that as the temperature of the core increases, the reactivity rapidly decreases — so it is highly unlikely, though not impossible for a meltdown to occur. TRIGA was originally designed to be fuelled with highly enriched uranium, but in 1978 the U.S. Department of Energy launched its Reduced Enrichment for Research Test Reactors program, which promoted reactor conversion to low-enriched uranium fuel.
GA’s TRIGA reactor is the most widely used non-power nuclear reactor in the world. GA has sold 66 TRIGA reactors, which are in use or under construction at universities, government and industrial laboratories, and medical centers in 24 countries. GA’s reactors are used in many diverse applications, including production of radioisotopes for medicine and industry, treatment of tumors, nondestructive testing, basic research on the properties of matter, and for education and training. These reactors operate at thermal power levels from less than 0.1 to 16 megawatts, and are pulsed to 22,000 megawatts. The high power pulsing is possible due to the unique properties of GA’s uranium-zirconium hydride fuel, which provides unrivaled safety characteristics. The safety features of this fuel also permit flexibility in siting, with minimal environmental effects.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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