Why Small Modular Reactors?

What is causing current interest in SMR nuclear reactors and what are their main benefits?

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What has caused interest in SMRs?

What spurred this investigation was the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant being built in Finland. This is a third generation nuclear reactor design which was supposed to be the future of Europe. Yet it has instead exposed what a failure the current trend in Nuclear reactor design is.

The problem with Large Scale Reactors

Current nuclear reactors are typically based on using water inside the reactor. That creates a lot of problems. The water has to be under high pressure because very hot water will turn into gas. Thus light water reactors (LWR) which is what we commonly use today are basically highly unstable systems. We make them safe through tons of sophisticated engineering.

  1. Should the cooling fail the water will get so hot that it splits into hydrogen and oxygen gas which is explosive.
  2. Radioactive elements are turned into gasses inside the fuel rods.
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SMRs — Back to the Drawing Board

The premise of SMRs is that instead of engaging in this carousel of ever larger and more complex reactors, we go back to the drawing board and design reactors which are simple and inherently safe. That typically means designing them around the idea of passive safety.

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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