The reactor down the street

Powering your town with nuclear energy. Small reactors for small towns. Today. On Engineering Works!

Usually, when we build nuclear power plants, we build them big. The largest nuclear plants produce more than 1,400 megawatts of electricity, enough power for about 1.5 million households. That could be changing. The Department of Energy is studying smaller power plants that would produce about 300 megawatts. Enough to power, say, Jackson, Mississippi. Other researchers are looking into power plants that could serve even smaller communities.

Experts estimate that a 50 megawatt reactor about the size of a garden shed could provide electricity for small towns or even individual work sites away from the power grid. Even better, these small reactors could be linked together as the town grows and electricity demand increases. There could be another benefit to these small power plants, too.

Since the generators would be located close to where the electricity is used, there would be less loss as it moves along transmission lines. Now, with large regional power plants, between four percent and 10 percent of electricity is lost before it gets to where it is used.

And there’s more. Odd as it sounds, people who live near a nuclear power plant are exposed to less radiation than if they live near a coal-fired plant. In either place, the amount of radiation is so small that there’s no real danger.

In any case, it’s going to be a few years before the first of these mini-reactors is built. See you next time.

Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU- FM in College Station. Learn more about engineering. Visit us on the World Wide Web. http://engineeringworks.tamu.edu

Start the discussion: nuclear energy is still a controversial idea, although it shouldn’t be. What do you think of spreading out nuclear generator plants like this? Let us know.

For more:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/13/AR2010091304026.html

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_22/b4180020375312.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/06/10/10greenwire-company-calls-new-small-nuclear-reactor-a-game-45123.html


Source: Engineering

The reactor down the street

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