Nuclear Power

Yeah, I’m real familiar with TMI. Fun fact, when you fly into Harrisburg airport, you fly over TMI. Like, literally over it.

A PWR reactor can melt down, but not in the way you are imagining, that happened with Chernobyl’s RBMK reactor.

For instance, TMI had pretty much everything that could go wrong, do so, on both the systems and the human side. The result? Essentially nothing. A partial melt down that destroyed the core of one reactor, and released no measurable radiation into the environment. It was the worst nuclear disaster in America’s commercial nuclear power industry, and it has no measurable effect. The rest of the reactors continued to run to until a few years ago.

The big difference between American reactor design, and the RBMK design, is something called the void coefficient. Essentially, this means what happens to the reactivity when the coolant turns into steam. The RBMK design had a positive void coefficient, while all American reactors have a negative one.

With a reactor that has a negative void coefficient (i.e. every American reactor design), as the reactor gets hotter, water naturally turns into steam. This then naturally slows the reaction. If all the water turns into steam, the reactor literally cannot sustain a reaction anymore, and it will automatically shut down. This makes it impossible to get the situation that you had with Chernobyl, where you had an exposed core shooting ionizing radiation to into the sky.

If you are interested, the main reason for this difference is what is used as the neutron moderator, which is the thing in a reactor that enables a sustained reaction. In American designs, the coolant (i.e. water) IS the moderator. So if something fails and you lose your coolant, it stops. The RBMK design used graphite as a moderator, so the reaction was able to continue out of control, even with no coolant.

I think this highlights how not really understanding this stuff is driving this idea that nuclear power is much more dangerous than it is.

Hell, even in the case of Chernobyl, which was pretty much the worst case imaginable, with a terrible design, and gross negligence, less than 50 people died, even including long term cancer cases. But again, that’s literally impossible with American reactors.

TMI is a good example of things going very wrong and the design preventing a disaster. Hydrogen bubbles are a big concern in a pwr (Fukushima had one explode), but they were able to vent it off and keep the impact minor.

Gifted article.

Thanks! I guess having Bill Gates pay for your cost overruns is one way to get a new reactor built.

The power grid is being dealt with surprisingly fast and surprisingly well. This reason is quickly turning into another false narrative by the anti-greens.

Don’t need a complicated series of links and sources either, Google ‘HVDC projects USA’ you’ll see some are already online.

“In the future something might/will likely happen that refutes your statement about the present,” is not really a “false narrative.”

" In March, TerraPower submitted a 3,300-page application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a permit to build the reactor, but that will take at least two years to review."

I wonder how manhours/$ is required to generate 3,300 page application, and that for a relatively small and presumable nimble company. I sure the number of manhours for the NRC to review is several times longer, since it probably needs multiple layers of approval.

They you add on some basic facts that I remember learning about reactor construction, like all welds need to be X-ray and signed off on by an inspectors. Now they number weld is probably somewhat linearly related to the amount of power a reactor generates. I get that these sodium cooled reactor are simpler, than traditional reactors. But if 345 MW nuke plant require 3,300 how many pages did the 4.6 GW Georgia reactors cost. I saw reference to a 12,000 page application on Google.

Anyway, I’m pretty skeptical that cost per KWH is going to be lower than the big monster nuclear plants.
Much less cost competitive with Wind or Solar plus batteries.