Added: 26.11.2009 14:36
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Portable Backyard Nuclear Reactors

"Backyard" reactor is a small self-regulating reactor design that can be buried and left alone to produce enough power to run 25,000 homes for several years

There are many who think that nuclear power has a major role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions; there are others who say that the cost and size of nuclear plants and the risks involved outweigh the gains. But what if there was a small, self-regulating and safe reactor design that could be buried and left alone to produce enough power to run 25,000 homes for several years before you have to change the battery?

The New Mexico-based startup, Hyperion Power Generation, is trying to turn an old idea into a novel technology—a nuclear reactor small enough to be shipped by train or truck but powerful enough to supply electricity to a small city or a large industrial operation.

The Santa Fe Reporter describes the product: “The portable nuclear reactor is the size of a hot tub. It’s shaped like a sake cup, filled with a uranium hydride core and surrounded by a hydrogen atmosphere. Encase it in concrete, truck it to a site, bury it underground, hook it up to a steam turbine and, voila, one would generate enough electricity to power a 25,000-home community for at least five years.”

One reactor is expected to cost about $25-$30 million each, depending on options and will yield about 70 megawatts thermal, and, depending on your steam cycle and how you're generating electricity, about 30 megawatts electrical, at the turbine.

The fuel for the reactor is uranium hydride. Low-enriched, about 10 percent [uranium isotope]-235, the rest is U-238. By comparison, bomb-grade fuel is about 98 percent enriched. According to the company producing the reactors, it’s not possible to turn that fuel into a bomb.

The company has already signed up first customers in Romania and the Czech Republic. The first customer installs are due in June of 2013.

References:

Millett, Stephen M.: Personalized Energy: The next paradigm. The Futurist July-August 2004, s.44-48
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/09/portable-backyard-nuclear-reactors-ready-by-2013.php
http://www.techrockies.com/story/0017490.html

Opportunity: maintanance free, co2 free electricity

Threat: leaks of radioactive fuel in residential neighbourhoods

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