Small Nuclear Reactors to Power Homesteads and Survival Compounds

Personal Power for the Coming Anarchy

Western societies are aging, losing expertise and internal cohesion, and allowing the foundations of their civilisation to crumble. To survive, modern societies need to make their vital infrastructure as robust as they can. Instead, thanks to a fashionable and corrupt political correctness, they are doing the opposite — making societal collapse more likely.

National and regional leaders fail to understand that reliable, uninterrupted supply of high quality electrical power is a matter of life or death. It is crucial that forward looking and competent people make plans for when the “politically correct” system of interlocking infrastructures — all reliant upon rock-steady and high quality energy supplies — begin to fail, due to top-down sabotage by leaders and political insiders.

Reliable forms of vital, life-saving power are being driven to failure and bankruptcy, while unreliable, low-quality energy from big wind and big solar is increasingly polluting power grids and making large-scale power blackouts and brownouts more likely.

We’re going to need a lot more backup.

NuScale vs Conventional PWR NuScale via Guardian

NuScale vs Conventional PWR
NuScale via Guardian

There is a growing need for micro-grid systems to use as backups for the politically mandated unreliability of national and continental grid systems across Europe and the Anglosphere. With their own dedicated power generation systems, city and community microgrids can drop off the macrogrid, and safely “island” themselves in case of a large-scale grid catastrophe.

At an even smaller scale of resilience, neighborhood and household microgrids can potentially maintain the same type of standby, backup robustness. But neighborhood/household microgrids will require reliable systems capable of generating ample high quality power (and heat) on demand.

Backyard Nukes

These mini-nukes generate between 45 and 300 megawatts of power (compared to 500 megawatts for the smallest thermal reactor now on the market), are built modularly (and, at roughly $1 billion per, relatively cheaply), then sealed completely at the factory, shipped via rail, and arrive at their destination “plug and play.” Once installed, they’re designed to run for years without maintenance. A number of familiar faces (like Toshiba and Lawrence Livermore Laboratories) and several nuclear newcomers (like New Mexico-based Hyperion Power Generation and Oregon- based NuScale Power) have gone into this area because SMRs are believed to fill a niche.

In places where water shortages are a problem, SMRs could be used to run desalination plants; in places too remote for other options, SMRs could be the best alternative to trucking in barrels of diesel. Much interest is centered around providing power for remote mining operations (like extracting oil from tar sands, which currently uses more oil than it produces), backing up intermittently plagued solar or wind facilities, or even —in the very long term —serving as hydrogen generators.

__ Source

Down Scaling Nuclear Reactors Source

Down Scaling Nuclear Reactors

In a Global or Continental Emergency, Why Use Nuclear for Small Scale Robustness?

Nuclear reactors are already being used in remote parts of Siberia for power & heat cogeneration, at a size of 11 MWe. Source Newer, advanced, scaled down integral reactors are, in fact, ideal for geographically isolated communities, if designed and built properly and if operated and maintained by qualified personnel.

Nuclear has much lower fuel demands, is safer, cleaner, more reliable, and over the long run less expensive than the alternatives.

For Training and Testing Purposes, NuScale Appears to Have an Advantage

Advanced operator training facilities are paired with state of the art testing facilities to make sure that all systems operate as advertised, and that all operators will be competent to keep the systems running.

NuScale has designed and built an exclusive access, one-third scale, state-of-the-art, electrically-heated prototype test facility, the NuScale Integral System Test (NIST-1) facility located at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. The NIST-1 facility provides NuScale with a tremendous advantage for modular prototype testing. The one-third scale prototype replicates the entire NuScale Power Module and reactor building cooling pool. It provides an electrically heated core to bring the system up to operating temperature and pressure. Stability testing ensures that throughout the expected operating conditions, natural circulation is stable.

The facility has demonstrated the viability of NuScale Power’s SMR, and provides an enhanced representation of NuScale’s current reactor design. NIST includes a new data acquisition and control system and extensive instrumentation additions which will provide the measurements necessary for safety code and reactor design validation.

what enables NuScale to truly stand out is its cutting edge testing at state-of-the-art facilities worldwide, including:

NuScale Integral System Test (NIST-1) facility located at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon
Critical Heat Flux testing at Stern Laboratories in Hamilton, Ontario Canada
Helical Coil Steam Generator testing at SIET SpA in Piacenza, Italy
Fuels testing at AREVA’s Richland Test Facility (RTF) in Richland, Washington
Critical Heat Flux testing at AREVA’s KATHY loop in Karlstein, Germany
Control Rod Assembly (CRA) drop / shaft alignment testing at AREVA’s KOPRA facility in Erlangen, Germany
Steam Generator Flow Induced Vibration (FIV) testing at AREVA’s PETER Loop in Erlangen, Germany
Control Rod Assembly Guide Tube (CRAGT) FIV at AREVA’s MAGALY facility in Le Creusot, France

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NuScale has been thinking and planning ahead for as many contingencies as can be anticipated. This should not surprise anyone who knows that giant engineering and construction conglomerate Fluor is the majority stockholder in NuScale. And not surprisingly, engineering/construction giant Bechtel is working in a similar fashion with Babcock and Wilcox to develop B&W’s small modular nuclear reactor system. Such partnerships are natural synergies in the capitalist world where competence and expertise are crucial.

The Safe Scaling of Nuclear Power Takes Time

What you see in companies such as NuScale is an intermediate step in the scaling down of nuclear power from its current large scale versions to future backyard and remote location versions. The amount of supervision needed in a 4 GW nuclear power plant is necessarily much larger than what is needed for a nuclear submarine. Likewise the amount of human supervision in a nuclear submarine is larger than what will be needed for some of the smaller NuScale driven power plants. At the end of the timeline of development in scaled-down nuclear reactors, will be systems that do not require real-time human supervision at all.

The evolution of reliable downsized nuclear power will take time, but the sooner it begins, the sooner safe backyard and neighborhood nuclear-powered microgrids will arrive.

The nuclear power industry is experiencing the highest level of construction in 25 years, with 60 reactors under construction worldwide, she noted. In the last 12 months, 11 reactors were put online, of which China accounted for eight.

In addition, the IAEA’s PRIS Database shows that “existing reactors are operating very well”, she added. “In the 1980s the average capacity factor – how much electricity you get out from a plant compared to what it is designed to deliver – was around 60%. Now it’s about 80%. Furthermore, a 40-year-old reactor has the same average capacity factor as a new one. That means we are managing the technology very well.” __ Source

It is good that nuclear power is doing better on the world stage, but in Europe and the Anglosphere, politically corrupt backers of big wind and big solar have much louder voices than do the more rational and thoughtful backers of nuclear power systems evolution.

The Next Ice Age Has Not Been Cancelled

Global Breadbaskets Set to Freeze Source

Global Breadbaskets Set to Freeze

There is a reason why the global breadbaskets of North America and Eurasia are so fruitful. Past glaciations repeatedly replenished soil micronutrients, setting the stage for later human societies to develop the rich agricultural systems that flourish on those lands today.

This is the story of glaciers and Illinois soil, the southern limit of the most recent North American great glaciers:

The first glacier inched its way into Illinois about 300,000 years ago. The fourth and last glacier melted slowly away about 13,000 years ago. The glaciers flattened the land and left behind rich deposits that became the soils on which Illinois farmers have grown their crops for the last 7,000 years. The Illinoan glacier reached into southern Illinois as far as Carbondale. Only the southern tip and the northwest corner of the state were untouched by glaciers. __ Source

The Next Glaciers Will Sweep Away Everything That Now Exists Over Huge Areas

As global climates naturally and inevitably cycle back toward colder temperatures, our easy way of life will come under severe stress. Growing seasons will shorten, cycles of flood and drought will likely worsen, and the time of onset and end of each year’s growing season will become more erratic and less predictable.

The only type of energy — natural or manmade — that will allow earthbound civilisations to survive the more extreme periods of glaciation, is advanced nuclear — fission and/or fusion. Consider the energy density of nuclear fuels vs. other fuels:

Energy Density Comparison from Wikipedia Fusion, Fission Orders of Magnitude Better than Chemical and Other Energy Sources

Energy Density Comparison from Wikipedia
Fusion, Fission Orders of Magnitude Better than Chemical and Other Energy Sources

Nuclear fuels contain many orders of magnitude higher energy density than any other type of fuel. This will allow the storage of centuries-worth of fuel in a relatively small volume, compared to what would be needed for other fuels.
Fuel Requirement Comparison

Fuel Requirement Comparison

We will need better methods for storing fuel, refueling reactors, and storing the very small quantities of waste that will result from newer and cleaner nuclear technologies. We will need reactors that will operate well for hundreds of years, with only minor maintenance requirements. And we will need methods of building replacement reactors and microgrid components, using technologies from advanced 3D printing to molecular manufacturing.

But with advanced nuclear generation of heat and power, humans will not need to huddle together in caves to keep warm, resorting to barbaric methods of population control and suffering from community-ending plagues over time.

Ice Ages are Inevitable, but the Threat from Human Stupidity is Much Closer at Hand

The abrupt political compulsion to overbuild big wind and big solar projects — for the benefit of politically connected elites and their friends — constitutes a considerable threat to a prosperous and abundant human future. The people who are promoting such a dangerous and wasteful overbuild and dependency on unreliable energy sources are well known, and should certainly be held to account for their actions. But by then it is likely to be too late.

Modern Leaders of Europe and the Anglosphere are Corrupt and Cowardly Fools

Barack Obama is a prototype for such politically correct and corrupt groupthinkers, but Hillary Clinton would certainly follow closely in his footsteps, if given the chance. Canada’s Trudeau is cut from the same cloth, as are the greens who wield so much influence across Europe and the rest of the Anglosphere. They had best hope to be well and truly out of the way — enjoying their ill-got gains — before their house of corrupt energy cards comes crashing down.

The Idea of Backyard Reactors and Personal Microgrids Will Require Work

It is rare for anything worthwhile to come about on its own, without a lot of help. Powerful elites will continue to attempt to control the emergence of potentially disruptive innovations, but such control is not always possible. For those who would like to forge their own path outside the control of busybody elitists, clever development of parallel infrastructures will be necessary in a step by step, low-profile manner.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. It is never too early or late to have a Dangerous Childhood.

Important reading:

Wind and Solar can never replace more reliable nuclear and fossil fuels

Download full MIT report here

Matt Ridley scores a coup de grace at the Royal Society last night, against politically correct saboteurs of the human future

This entry was posted in Electrical Power Grid, Nuclear Power, Survival Prepping, Technology, TEOTWAWKI and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Small Nuclear Reactors to Power Homesteads and Survival Compounds

  1. Joe Wooten says:

    I have to take exception with the “no maintenance” quip on SMR’s. Anything with moving parts will need regular maintenance, especially turbines and pumps. All SMR’s contain both. They need constant attention on oil levels, and regular preventative maintenance. Moving parts wear out, and wear out fast at a load following plant due to constant temperature swings to match grid loading.

    The staff at a SMR is smaller than a regular nuke plant, but you still have to have one. It will not quite be a “backyard” nuke plant. A SMR will be staffed a lot like the modular gas fired combined cycle power plants currently popular in the US and Europe.

    Westinghouse, Areva, B&W, and the other small vendors offer SMR designs that are very much alike.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Thanks for the comment, Joe. You are quite correct when discussing SMRs as they exist now and will exist over the next decade or few. But if you re-read the section of the article to which you refer, it is talking about future generations of small reactors that will have evolved considerably beyond what we have today.

      The future SMRs will not be “nuclear batteries” exactly, or “cold fusion” reactors probably. But the ability to learn how to better utilise nuclear forces to provide heat and electric power with minimal maintenance over periods of years and decades, is certainly within the reach of human ingenuity if given a fair chance.

      We may, of course, need a lot more guillotines before humans are given such a chance. 😉

      • Joe Wooten says:

        It will take a lot of time. I have been involved as an engineer in the nuclear power field for about 36 years. I have seen steam and gas turbine efficiencies and maintenance requirements go down dramatically in that period. back when I started at Comanche Peak, our steam turbine required periodic disassembly for inspection to make sure everything was still good. We had to totally take it apart on the first outage and then had scheduled on 5 year rotations afterwards for inspection. Skip a year, then inspect the HP, next year the LP1, then LP2, then the generator, skip a year and repeat.

        Siemens sold us a new turbine that was more efficient, and what was even better, was better built and could go on condition based maintenance, which means that we put in a lot of instrumentation to monitor turbine/generator performance and make decisions on work based upon how it was working. Not having to take apart the turbine saves at least a couple of weeks of refueling outage time. The same has happened to gas, oil and coal fired plants too. I never thought I’d see a power plant that achieved the ~62% thermal efficiency maximum of a Carnot cycle, but both GE and Siemens sell combined cycle plants that do just that.

        Capacity factors have climbed from the low 60% to 85% to 90% in nukes. Coal and gas fired plants have seen similar gains, but all these gains were a long time in coming and were incremental.

  2. Matt Musson says:

    A focus fusion aneutronic fusor would be the perfect local grid option since it produces electricity directly instead of using a steam turbine. But it will take $10 million to prove the concept.

    • Joe Wooten says:

      Matt, I assume your aneutronic fusor will sue a MHD generator to extract energy from the Helium plasma. MHD systems have so far not proved reliable at the lower temperatures of a fossil fired furnace or HTGR reactor. It will take much more than $10 million to develop just this small portion of your machine. The only reason we are still using turbines to generate nearly all our electricity is that nothing else has proven as efficient and reliable as gas/steam turbines. I know General Atomic spent a lot of time and money in the 1960’s and 1970’s on MHD generators to put on their HTGR’s without much to show for it.

      Also, fusion has been just around the corner ever since I was in engineering school back in 1975-1979. That has been one very big corner for the last 40 years.

      • Matt Musson says:

        Actually aneutronic fusion gives off electricity as a byproduct of the reaction.

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