THE NEW FIRE follows young engineers who are developing next-generation nuclear reactors that are a fraction of the size and cost of today’s nuclear plants. Unlike the current reactors, their main components can be built in factories and delivered to the site by truck, rail or barge.
These Advanced Reactors are inherently safe and cannot melt down. Unlike today’s Light Water Reactors, Advanced Reactors use coolants that cannot evaporate, such as liquid metals or molten salts. If they overheat, Advanced Reactors automatically shut themselves off and cool down passively without operator intervention or pumps. And, since they don’t use high-pressure water for the coolant, they can operate at much higher temperatures while remaining at atmospheric pressure.
Advanced Reactors come in a variety of sizes, with different features to serve different needs and applications. Small Modular Reactors, or SMRs, are a fraction of the size of today’s reactors and can be used alone or scaled up by adding more units to a site. Micro-Reactors are smaller still, designed for applications like providing power for an isolated village of 1000 or so people, while their largest cousins can power big cities.
These next-gen reactors are much more efficient that today’s reactors, producing more power per unit of fuel and leaving less waste behind. Some Advanced Reactors are “waste negative” which means they can take the spent fuel that’s currently in storage from today’s reactors, and use it as fuel.
Electricity only accounts for around a third of total world energy consumption, and thankfully, Advanced Reactors can replace fossil fuels in areas other than electricity. For example, some of the new designs can achieve temperatures of 700C and higher, so they can provide a carbon-free source of industrial process heat in applications where today, coal is the only option. Other Advanced Reactors applications include:
-Synthetic Fuel Production (using atmospheric CO2 and Water)
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