In 2015, Lockheed promised a nuclear fusion reactor design that could be transported via a heavy truck. Lockheed also was granted a patent for it. Additional research revealed the design would only have a chance to work with a 2000 ton reactor. There is still a decade or more of work to even prove that it could achieve fusion power generation. The development of the reactor is not funded. Lockheed only has a few people working on some experiments.
Los Alamos National Lab has a MegaPower nuclear fisson reactor design. It would be an integration of nuclear technology that all have a readiness level of 6 or higher. Los Alamos can make a 35-ton two-megawatt reactor that mostly be using heatpipes instead of traditional turbines. It is also designed to be passively safe. A very tiny kilopower nuclear reactor in the tens of kilowatts is being developed with NASA. The designs take known physics and technology and re-imagine and optimize from the start for small size and safety.
A portable nuclear generator could operate for 13 years without refueling. This would be very useful for military bases or remote locations where refueling with coal, natureal gas or oil would be difficult.
Truck Sizes and smallest current nuclear reactors
Normal US highway truck payloads max out at 17 tons. Heavier loads can be moved with special licenses. It is possible to move objects up to about 200 tons with trucks. There are even some special super-sized trucks that could move about 1000 tons.
The smallest nuclear reactors are currently those in military submarines which use highly enriched uranium to allow pressure water reactors to be made more compact. The exact sizes are secret but based upon the size of submarines and the fraction of space for propulsion and shielding the submarine reactors can get down to about 400-600 tons in size.
6. System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment 7. System prototype demonstration in an operational environment. 8. Actual system completed and qualified through test and demonstration. 9. Actual system proven through successful mission operations.
The MegaPower reactor concept produces approximately two megawatts of electric power. The reactor would be attached to an open-air Brayton cycle power conversion system. A Brayton power cycle uses air as the working fluid and as the means of ultimate heat removal.
“MegaPower” reactor patent – Mobile heat pipe cooled fast reactor system US 20160027536 A1
It is estimated to cost about $150 to 340 million to develop.
MegaPower cost estimates include:
* Reactor technology development: $85 million to $125 million
* LEU fuel (16 to 19% enriched) depending on DOE fuel supply: $5 million to $45 million
* Development and test facility modifications: $50 million to $100 million
* Transport Security Armor development: $0 to $25 million
* NRC Licensing: $0 to $30 million
* Total estimated costs: $140 to $340 million
Molten Salt nuclear reactors under development in Canada, China and USA could be small and powerful
Terrestrial Energy of Canada commercial molten salt reactor working by 2025. They have a very compact nuclear core.
Other components could eventually be created to allow for a truck transportable design. Currently, the rest of the turbines and other parts would be as large as what is in nuclear submarines.
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.
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