OT: small modular reactors

This isn't a bad summary of the current position
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It's the last in a six part series, the others may be of interest to
some too.
Reply to
newshound
I'm sure everyone has decided what great idea these are, except those who will have one by the river they live next to. ahem.
I'm assuming water cooling but you can use sodium and other stuff, makes for a better explosion if hings go wrong. grin. Brian
Reply to
Brian Gaff (Sofa 2)
There are some small sodium-cooled reactors but AFAIK this technology has not been considered for small modular reactors. That's not really because of problems with the sodium-water reaction (although the Russians managed to have one at one of their research reactors).
One historical problem with reactor designs, in my view, is that the initial concepts are developed by nuclear physicists and materials scientists, then it is up to engineers to make them work. A subtle problem with "pool-type" sodium cooled reactors is that you get waves on the surface of the sodium pool. Because of the highly effective heat transfer, these waves give you very high cycles of temperature fluctuations for the sodium container at the sodium / cover gas boundary. This causes thermal stresses and ultimately fatigue. When you talk to fast reactor chemists, the nasty aggressive fluid that causes all sorts of problems with materials is, in fact, the water in the steam generators.
For the UK gas cooled reactors, on-line refuelling turned out to be much more difficult than originally expected because of the environment for the mechanical equipment, and also because faults like stuck elements present a challenging safety case. But engineering and safety cases tend to come along after the basic design concepts have been frozen.
Declaration of interest, 50 years of working on nuclear engineering might have given me some prejudices. And that is as a physicist turned materials scientist.
Reply to
newshound

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