The Hyperion Power Generation uranium hydride reactor will weigh fifteen to 20 tons, depending on whether you’re measuring just the reactor itself or the cask—the container that we ship it in—as well. It was specifically designed to fit on the back of a flatbed truck because most of our customers are not going to have rail. It’s about a meter-and-a-half across and about 2 meters tall. It will generate 27-30 Megawatts of electrical power from 70 MW of thermal power. This means 0.5 to 0.75 tons per MWe for the nuclear reactor. The steam turbine to convert the power is counted separately. Using a lot less material (including 10 to 20 times greater efficiency with the Uranium fuel) means that the uranium hydride reactor can be scaled to provide more power. Eventual use of advanced thermoelectrics instead of steam turbines would mean that the weight of the reactor and power conversion would be less than one ton per MWe.
The 15-20 ton 27-30 MWe Hyperion nuclear reactor will be factory mass produced starting in about 2013. It uses ten to twenty times less material and less uranium fuel as current reactors which will allow society to scale this up a lot more. Goal of 12 month from order to finished factory product. Goal is to make hundreds to thousands each year. Here is a description of how Hyperion Power Generation plans to leverage proven Triga reactor safety systems and processes.
The reactor core of an S6G (26MWe) submarine nuclear power plant (just the vessel that holds the fuel and the fuel itself) weighs about 110 +/-3 tons. It needs 20000 gallons (80 tons) of water for coolant. After you add in the rest of its systems you are looking at at least 1000 tons of machinery. The reactor fits in a space about 10m long, 10m wide, and 12m tall. Two hundred times more space than the Hyperion Reactor. The S6G is rated at about 130 megawatts thermal power. The electric output is 26 megawatts.
The Hyperion reactor portion is 9-13 times lighter than the submarine core and water coolant. The Hyperion reactor does not have water coolant.
Current light water nuclear reactor power plants have 36-51 tons of steel per MWe and 324 tons of cement per MWe. 600-800 times less weight for Hyperion UH reactor and probably at least 30 times more material per MWe over a full Hyperion reactor facility.
High temperature (HTR-PB) reactors will use about 118 tons of steel and concrete per MWe. HTR-PB is one third the weight of regular reactors but at least ten times more than the Hyperion Uranium Hydride reactor.
Here is a comparison to help put the system’s potential into perspective. A single truck can deliver the HPM heat source to a site. The device is supposed to be able to produce 70 MW of thermal energy for 5 years. That means that the truck will be delivering about 10.5 trillion BTU’s to the site. Natural gas costs about $7 per million BTU which would would cost $73 million.
That is about 3 times as much as the announced selling price for an HPM, but the advantage does not stop there – the HPM is targeted for places where there are no gas pipelines to deliver gas, so natural gas is not available at any price.
Instead, it would be better to compare the HPM to diesel fuel, which currently costs about 2 times as much per unit of useful heat as natural gas and still requires some form of delivery for remote locations. In some places, fuel transportation costs are two or three times as much as the cost of the fuel from the central supply points.
In certain very difficult terrains, or in places where there are people who like to shoot at tankers, delivery costs can be 100 times as much as the basic cost of the fuel.
Triga reactors at General Atomics. Triga are teaching reactors that are safe enough to be operated by university students and walk-away safe. Over 60 Triga reactors have been built and some used for decades.
NASA made news with a proposed 10-40KWe RTG for lunar power. The Hyperion power generation nuclear reactor would have 1000 times more power, which would enable real industrialization of the moon. There is nuclear material on the moon, so if transporting a functional nuclear reactor is an issue, then a unit could be delivered which had everything with refined nuclear material sent in separate rocket deliveries. After industrialization of the moon, mining, processing and refinement of nuclear materials can be set up on the moon.
KREEP, an acronym built from the letters K (the atomic symbol for the element potassium), REE (Rare Earth Elements) and P (for phosphorus), is a geochemical component of some lunar impact melt breccia and basalt rocks.
JAXA—Japan’s space agency—also announced that the Selene mission has gathered detailed information regarding the mineral composition of parts of the Moon’s surface, including thorium, potassium, and uranium sites.
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.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.