Friday, November 5, 2021

Miniature Nuclear Power Boats, Stations

 So Russia and Sweden are trying out an interesting new system. They are putting small nuclear reactors (like the kinds in submarines of aircraft carriers) off shore from smaller cities, where power is difficutl to transmit.

Barge, in distance, with small nuclear power plant

One difference from traditional nuclear power plants is the release of steam. If you've driven by the giant cooling towers with steam pouring out, you know what I mean. Nuclear plants use cool water to reduce temperatures of the reaction, and this gets vented as steam; this is one reason why so many power plants are near the coast, large lakes or rivers.

But in these cases where the weather is very cold, this steam is captured and turned into hot water for the city as well. This means the energy released as steam is captured. Therefore, it is more efficient in this locations. The ability to do this is helped by the small size of the generation.

Uncaptured Steam from large plants

So what's the problem? It has some bugs to work out. Military power plants are regulated and watched over very carefully. These barges less so, and there have been small accidents and breakdowns. No radiation has been released. 

It is a great idea that might mitigate Climate Change since no greenhouse gases (like carbon dioxide or methane) are released. And, as with all technology, it will get better as it becomes more common and standardized.

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