Small-Scale Nuclear Manufacturers and Technology Options

While the Toshiba 4S is one example of a small nuclear reactor and the one closest to commercialization, there is a large variety of technologies with many proposed systems of a size appropriate for Alaskan applications.

Worldwide, over 40 small reactor concepts are being pursued, but with the exception of the 4S, they are all far from commercial. Below are some examples of developers and manufacturers who have received attention in recent years:

PBMR The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor is a modular, high-temperature gas reactor that uses helium as its coolant. Its total output from 8 modules is 1320 MW. The PBMR is a reactor that has received significant attention. At a scale of interest for some of the larger mine sites or communities, this product is further away from permitting (and thus commercialization) than the Toshiba 4S technology.
Hyperion Hyperion Power Generation also touts a small, portable nuclear reactor (‘the size of a hot tub’) that would produce 27 MW worth of thermal energy. The system uses technology originally developed at Los Alamos National Laboratories, and now licensed by Hyperion for commercial development. The suggested $25 million price tag is considered too low by many following the technology, and Hyperion is far from development of a commercial product.
NuScale Power NuScale is another company that has licensed a design developed by the University of Oregon. This reactor is essentially a scaled-down version of a standard reactor, sized at approximately 40-50 MW. It is also in the early stages of development.
S-Star Lawrence Livermore National Lab has designed a small, contained nuclear reactor as part of its S-Star program, with a 10 MW prototype and expected final product size of 50-100 MW. This reactor is nowhere near commercialization.
IRIS The ‘International Reactor Innovative and Secure’ is a medium power (335 MW) reactor that has been under development for several years by Westinghouse in coordination with an international consortium. The most recent information is that the planned submittal of a design certification application for IRIS has been pushed back from 2008 to 2010. In addition, Toshiba is now the majority owner of Westinghouse so the future of the IRIS reactor is not clear.

Conclusions & References

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