Emerging Technology – Microreactors

Nuclear is getting smaller … and it’s opening up some
big opportunities for the industry.

The new generation of advanced microreactors can produce between 1 and 20 megawatts of thermal energy that could be used directly as heat or converted to electric power. Generating clean and reliable electricity for commercial use or for non-electric applications such as district heating, water desalination and hydrogen fuel production, microreactors are a highly adaptable and portable alternative to traditional nuclear reactors.

A number of microreactors designs are currently under development and could see commercialization within the next decade

These compact reactors will be much smaller than the large nuclear reactors that the public is used to seeing. Microreactors could help solve energy challenges in a number of areas

Each NANO microreactor would produce between 500 Kilowatts – 1 megawatt of thermal energy for up to 15 years that could be used directly as heat or converted to electric power

They can be used to generate clean and reliable electricity for commercial use or for non – electric applications such as district heating, water desalination and hydrogen fuel production

Important Market Developments:

  • INL and the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) are enabling developers by providing technical resources, capabilities and a demonstration site
  • Technology advancements and experience provide improved microreactor designs
  • The federal government is supporting development through funding and legislation
  • The U.S. advanced reactor industry is developing several microreactor concepts

Other Benefits:

  • Microreactors can be used in emergency response scenarios to help restore power to areas hit
    by natural disasters
  • Microreactors have characteristics that enable rapid deployment and removal
    • Easily scalable, they can be “right-sized” to fit most locations
  • Microreactors can supplement microgrids and bare integrable with renewable energies
  • Designed for a longer core life, microreactors can operate for up to 15 years

    Current Global Energy Crises

    Europe – Bad Policies Leading to Crises

    Un-diversifying its base-load power supply away from dirty coal while also dumping nuclear, which has led to consequences such as:

      • Over-reliance on Russian natural gas
      • Frantic bidding wars with China for liquefied-gas shipments
      • Home-heating and electricity prices up 300% at the wholesale level since last winter

    Europe falls short of sustainability benchmarks:

      • Europe has adopted 1990 as its emissions baseline
      • Since 1990, Europe claimed 20% reduction in emissions
      • Yet, the world increased its total emissions 50% overall
      • Investors simply relocated their emissions-heavy processes to places outside the EU
    Europe Energy Crisis Goes Global
    • Asia – importers of liquefied natural gas are paying record prices for this time of year to secure supplies, with some starting to snap up dirtier fuels such as coal and heating oil in case they don’t obtain enough

     

    • Kazakhstan – protests about gas prices rapidly spread, turning into wider discontent about how the country is run. It is home to the world’s largest producer of uranium, Kazatomprom

    • USA – Rising crude oil prices and increased gasoline demand contributed to the average U.S. retail price for regular grade gasoline increasing to $3.01 per gallon (gal) in 2021, the highest average nominal price since 2014

     

    • Brazil – the lowest flows to the Parana River Basin in almost a century have slashed hydropower output and forced utilities to rely more heavily on gas

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