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Small salt-liquid nuclear reactor to provide electricity for 3 cents per kilowatt-hour

Small salt-liquid nuclear reactor to provide electricity for 3 cents per kilowatt-hour


A team of physicists in the USA wants to develop a new type of molten salt reactor that is very cheap. Electricity Without risks and with some additional benefits. The system fits a truck and can be used flexibly.

The new reactor concept was created at Brigham Young University (BYU), where nuclear technologist Matthew Mimut and his team are conducting the research. Their new small reactor is based on a molten salt system: nuclear fuel is not in the form of fuel rods containing uranium, but as the salt of a radioactive element. This is a liquid due to the heat generated repeatedly during operation, and thus ensures heating of the water, with which the turbine can then be turned on.

This has undeniable advantages — especially in terms of reactor safety, according to a report by local radio. KSL He appears. Not enough heat could be kept outside the primary circuit for the salt to drop below the required 550°C and solidify. All of the radioactive material will then be in a solid form, which prevents it from spreading into the environment.

Advance like a microchip

“For the past 60 years, people have felt that nuclear power is bad, big and dangerous,” Mimut said. “These perceptions are based on potential first-generation problems, but a molten salt reactor is equivalent to a silicon wafer (versus the previous electron tube, dR). We can get smaller, safer, cheaper reactors and eliminate those reactors problems.”

The small reactor, Memmott envisions it, should be able to power about a thousand homes. In order to be able to supply the city with electricity, a number of such systems will be necessary. Developers are counting on relatively very low production costs of 3 cents per kilowatt-hour – nuclear power is currently one of the most expensive options for generating electricity. In addition, valuable fission products such as molybdenum-99, which is used for medical imaging and is expensive, must also be extractable from the salt.

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All these advantages sound exciting, but this reactor is still far from ready for serial production. Other variants of molten salt reactors have also been studied for a long time, but have never progressed beyond research systems, since there are many problems that have not yet been sufficiently resolved. In this regard, it is also clear here that this technology could possibly contribute to the supply of electricity in the distant future, but it does not provide any answers to the currently pressing questions raised by the energy transition.

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Research, science, stock photos, atom, physics, scientist, science, chemistry, nuclear power plant, atomic energy, atomic nucleus