GA is innovating new materials, getting the efficiency way up, simplifying the design and getting the cost into the competitive range.
GA is developing a Brayton cycle to convert heat to electricity at 53% versus 28 to 34 percent for regular steam turbines. In a four-module plant (1.06GW), one point of efficiency is worth a billion dollars in revenue over the life of the plant. 53% efficiency means $19 billion dollars more than a 34% efficient plant.
GA’s design is a 265-megawatt (electric) sized reactor, with a fuel cycle lifetime of 30-plus years.
Possibly later this year, General Fusion will begin work on a full-size prototype reactor. At the center will be a sphere, three meters in diameter, inside which molten lead swirls at high speed creating a vacuum, or vortex, in the middle. Arrayed around it will be 200 to 300 pistons, each the size of a cannon. Firing in perfect harmony, they will create an acoustic wave that collapses the vortex at the very moment a plasma injector shoots hydrogen isotopes, the nuclear fuel, into it. If General Fusion has its physics right, the heat and pressure will ignite a fusion reaction that spins off
countless neutrons which will heat the lead even more. Pumped through a heat exchanger, that hot lead will help generate steam just like a conventional thermal power plant.
The pouring of concrete for the basemat of the first HTR-PM unit – a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor – at Shidaowan in China’s Shandong province was recently completed. Another 18 of the small modular reactors could follow.
HTR-PM are modular reactors that will be mainly factory mass-produced. The first one is taking 5 years to make. The reactor module will head towards about two years to build when they are making them by the dozen.
The demonstration plant’s twin HTR-PM units will drive a single 210 MWe turbine. It is expected to begin operating around 2017. Eighteen further units are proposed for the Shidaowan site, near Rongcheng in Weihai city.
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.