The United States allowed NuScale’s small nuclear reactor, which is the first one to get the country’s approval. The state can benefit from the reactor’s small size since it can help with economics and safety.
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On Friday, Aug. 28, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission provided a design certification for the first small modular reactor. This means that it passed the safety requirements and could be chosen by future projects seeking approval and licensing.
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NuScale, a company built from research at Oregon State University, developed an impressive design. Its project has received fundings from the Department of Energy.
NuScale’s nuclear reactor is a 76-foot-tall, 15-foot-wide steel cylinder (23 meters by 5 meters) capable of producing 50 megawatts of electricity, powering around 50,000 houses. The company is planning to deploy 12 of its small reactors in a large pool, just like those used in existing nuclear plants.
The standard design uses uranium fuel rods to heat water in an internal, pressurized loop, making it convenient. The water’s high temperature is transferred to an external steam loop through a heat exchange coil.
Its steam would then run to a generating turbine, cool off, and circulate back to the nuclear plant’s reactors. No pumps or moving parts are required to keep the reactor operating safely because of the passive cooling system.
The small nuclear reactor can prevent overheating since it is designed to manage its heat automatically. It can also block neutrons and stop the fission reaction in the event of a power outage or kill switch using its control rods by encasing the fuel rods.
These control rods will drop down on the fuel rods because of gravity. On the other hand, the reactor’s valves can dump hear through the steel exterior, which is submerged in the cooling pool, by releasing the pressurized water loop into the vacuum inside its thermos-like double-wall design.
Another benefit of the small modular design is that it only has a small amount of heat since each unit holds a smaller amount of radioactive fuel.
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Written by: Giuliano de Leon.