Apr 29, 2010

Hyperion - The real Deal In MicroReactors?

NextBigFuture: The first model is a uranium nitride reactor that will sell for $45-70 million "all in" and provide 25 MW of electrical power. The company was told teh NRC will start evaluation February of 2011. (Inc Magazine)
Deal gives a quick sketch of how his nuclear plant works: A room-size reactor is buried underground, where the uranium fuel heats up metal, which in turn heats up water sent to a conventional electricity-generating steam turbine above-ground.

"The top question you'll get from your customers," he continues, "will be about safety and security." And that just happens to be Hyperion's strong point. He goes on to describe how the more conventionally designed mini nuke offerings from other competitors resemble "big teakettles," in which boiling water around the nuclear core provides cooling and heat transfer, with a "real potential for failure." (No turbine water runs through Hyperion's metal-filled reactor.)
Hyperion- "Our reactor is more like a battery," Deal says. Bad guys can't get at the sealed core, he says, and even if they could, they wouldn't be able to do anything with the molten, non-weapons-grade mess. "We're not quite as efficient as the others," he admits. "But who cares? We're about safety and security, and we make our price point."

Related from NextBigFuture
The Berrylium fuel research project at Purdue University has developed a new fuel pellet, which includes beryllium oxide in addition to uranium oxide. The result is a pellet with superior heat conductivity and longer service life aimed at increasing power output, reducing pellet degradation and lengthening the time period between fuel recharge cycles. The pellet can be used with existing fuel rod and reactor designs.

This "skeleton" of beryllium oxide enables the nuclear fuel to conduct heat at least 50 percent better than conventional fuels. Because uranium oxide does not conduct heat well, during a reactor's operation there is a large temperature difference between the center of the pellets and their surface, causing the center of the fuel pellets to become very hot. The heat must be constantly removed by a reactor cooling system because overheating could cause the fuel rods to melt, which could lead to a catastrophic nuclear accident and release of radiation – the proverbial "meltdown."