Walkaway Safe Truck Transportable Modular Nuclear Reactor

The Micro Modular Reactor (MMR™) system is a 4th Generation nuclear energy system that delivers safe, clean, and cost-effective electricity and heat to remote mines, industry, and communities. It is the leading SMR project in Canada.

In mid-2019, the Canadian government started the environmental assessment for this small modular reactor project proposed by Global First Power (GFP) with support from Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG). The Micro Modular Reactor is a 15 MW thermal, 5 MW electrical high-temperature gas reactor, drawing on operational experience from pebble bed reactors developed by China, Germany, Japan and the USA.

In mid-2020, a joint venture was formed between Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to build, own and operate the proposed Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) project at the Chalk River Laboratories site. The joint venture – the Global First Power Limited Partnership – is owned equally by OPG and USNC-Power, the Canadian subsidiary of USNC.

Safer Reactor Core

The buried reactor core consists of hexagonal graphite blocks containing stacks of Ultra Safe’s FCM™ fuel pellets. The MMR™ reactor core has a low power density and a high heat capacity resulting in very slow and predictable temperature changes. The first micro reactor design is for 5 megawatts of electrical power.

The MMR™ facility uses standardized modules. The modules are to be assembled, tested, and commissioned at factories. They will be mass produced at factories.

Modules will be sized for standard International Standards Organization shipping containers; this means they can be transported easily by ship, rail or road. This includes ice roads.

Helium Coolant

Helium gas is the MMR™ reactor’s primary coolant. The helium passes through the nuclear core and is heated by the controlled nuclear fission process. The helium then transports the heat away from the core to the Molten Salt System.

The MMR™ reactor uses helium as it is an inert gas; a radiologically transparent, single-phase gas with no flashing or boiling possible. Helium does not react chemically with the fuel or reactor core components. It is easy to accurately measure and control the helium pressure in the reactor.

The FCM™ fuel ensures the helium is clean and free of fission products. The reactor is designed to safely operate at 600 degrees celsius. This is a higher temperature than current pressurized water reactors which operate at about 315 degrees celsius. Higher temperatures allow for greater energy efficiency. 600 degrees celsius is also matching the temperature of coal power plants. This means new high temperature reactors can replace coal plants and also provide the industrial heat.

Ultra Safe

The MMR™ reactor is a walk-away safe reactor. In the case of an accident, the MMR™ reactor cannot melt down, as all heat dissipates passively into the environment, no matter the scenario.

The plant has no need for active systems to remove heat. Additionally, the plant does not need any outside services, including electrical power, to operate safely.

The fuel safety margin is so large that fission product retention is accomplished entirely by the fuel; no other containment is needed. There are no sudden temperature rises – the reactor shuts down naturally in all accident conditions.

  • Passively cools in all scenarios
  • No active safety systems needed
  • No water or power needed

Site Area would only be 5 acres and the reactor could be installed in a few months.

The MMR™ reactor is fueled once for its lifetime. A fuel cartridge is rated at 20 years of full power. If operation of the Energy System is desired beyond 20 years, a cartridge replacement can be performed.

The MMR™’s high temperature heat has many uses beyond generation of electricity. District heating, desalination, and process heat are all possible with the MMR™.

From Pellets to Fuel Stacks

SOURCES- Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

22 thoughts on “Walkaway Safe Truck Transportable Modular Nuclear Reactor”

  1. So does nobody else see issues using an already dwindling resource of Helium? The world is already facing shortages of Helium.

  2. My big issue with truck-transportable reactors is that I'd like to see a reactor that could operate while still on the truck. In this example, you must remove the reactor and stack it vertically.

    Why my concern? Because if you can get a reactor that works on a regular sized truck, like in the picture, that means you can use it to power a locomotive. You just offset all that diesel fuel required to make trains move around. You can't do that if the reactor needs to stand 10 meters tall. Not when bridges exist.

    I'm ready for even smaller modular reactors that can power trains, with very little additional modification. They'd also be useful for tugboats and Navy ships. For the trains, make a special car that holds the reactor, so it can be swapped out in an afternoon with another reactor car. Then however long it takes to recycle the fuel doesn't affect operations.

    For ships, make them easy to add/remove, and allow for 2-3 reactors per ship. Stagger the reload times.

    Then there will be people who want fresh reactors early. My ship has 6 months of reactor life remaining and I'm sending it on patrol for 2 years. I want a fresh reactor now. Make it so these dying reactors can be hooked to the grid somewhere so we can squeeze out every last watt before recycling them.

  3. That's because of this probably:

    …the MMR™ reactor cannot melt down, as all heat dissipates passively into the environment, no matter the scenario.

  4. 5MW electric is awfully small… Need 200 of these (1000 acres?) to hit 1GW…

    Are they intended to power a factory, or a smallish town?

  5. It is widely used as a refractory material.
    We would buy specially shaped bricks and assemble them into burner nozzles. On our coal fired boilers we used other SiC bricks on very heat stressed places. Obviously they did not have a "nuclear stamp", but they were not all that expensive.
    And of course huge amounts of the material are also used for grinding wheels and disks. Harder than Aluminium Oxide, suitable to grind tungsten carbide tools, and much cheaper than diamond.
    As an afterthought I googled it: "Global consumption volume of silicon carbide was 1670 K MT in 2017, "

  6. Seems like a good idea to me. If they can get the cost down, keep reliability high, and keep the size reasonable, it might be good to have small nuclear power plants being used to power Tesla Semi charging stations. Since each charger is expected to consume 1MW of power, locating 12 of them in close proximity will need a hefty power source…

  7. This idea works better if you couple it with local district heating. Still I do like on site salt batteries to help match the power curve.

    20 years before refueling is also good.

  8. Not lethal at all before running the reactor for a while. It's the fission products that are dangerously radioactive, uranium fuel is fine.

  9. Only if you run the reactor for a while first. Otherwise you just have uranium, which is barely radioactive. For a dirty bomb you really want the fission products.

  10. Without Plutonium and only a small slug of Uranium to kickstart the process, Liquid Thorium reactors don't really contain enough fissable material to make stealing one worth it.

  11. OK, it's hard not to like this project. Complete walk away safety, small and modular, no reprocessing on site, encapsulated fuel…

    But what is the initial price estimate? I know that the modules could be mass produced, but what is the levelized energy cost for the first few units? This may determine if the technology get's off the blocks at all….

  12. I'd think that most nuclear powers would be able, and willing, to deal with attempted nuclear piracy.

    India, Israel, France, Pakistan… even Japan, England and South Korea are liable to have somewhat liberal rules of engagement under such circumstances.

    Of course you could always have a go at North Korea.

  13. TRISO fuel is ungodly expensive. He is mined form natural gas, and practically a fossil fuel. Encapsulating TRISO fuels in SiC is even more expensive. Hopefully they are doing hot isostatic pressing to make their SiC composite pellets to make it cheaper, although I gotta wonder what that would do to the fuel particle failure rate.

  14. Obviously, any nuclear reactor that contains nuclear material will have to have armed escorts on the high seas. And I'd feel sorry for any pirates who attempted to steal a floating nuclear reactor from the US, Russia, or China.

  15. 7 Nigerian stoaways took over a ship off the coast of Britain Yesterday of 21 crew. How easy will it be to steal these small modular reactors?

  16. Truck transportable nuclear reactors just make me nervous because they are the making of a dirty bomb.

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