# Do 2 Kilowatt Nuclear Reactor Still Exist

by average guy
Tags: exist, kilowatt, nuclear, reactor
P: 21,399
 Quote by Schr0d1ng3r Well, the research reactor at my school is rated at 5MW(t), and the reactor facility takes up MUCH less than half a block. I know there are SLOWPOKE reactors that run around 20kW(t), so there's no reason that I can see preventing one from making a 2kW(e) nuclear power station in half a block or less. There's just no point...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLOWPOKE_reactor

Note "The SLOWPOKE-2 uses 93% (originally) enriched uranium in the form of 28% uranium-aluminum alloy with aluminum cladding." More modern designs would have to use lower enrichment to comply with current anti-proliferation matter.

And " The Chalk River prototype went critical in 1970, and was moved to the University of Toronto in 1971. It had one sample site in the beryllium reflector and operated at a power level of 5 kW. In 1973 the power was increased to 20 kW "

See also - "AECL also designed and built a scaled-up version (2-10 MWth) called SLOWPOKE-3 for district heating at its Whiteshell Nuclear Research Establishment in Manitoba." That's not for electrical generation.

And finally - "SLOWPOKE reactors are used mainly for neutron activation analysis (NAA), in research and as a commercial service, but also for teaching, training, irradiation studies, neutron radiography (at the Royal Military College of Canada) and the production of radioactive tracers."
 P: 123 physics forum members is the gist of this that there's an 'economics of scale' where it is better to just build a full size one for generating electricity? Have A Nice Day!
P: 21,399
 Quote by average guy physics forum members is the gist of this that there's an 'economics of scale' where it is better to just build a full size one for generating electricity? Have A Nice Day!
Economics is a key part of it, and to some extent, when dealing with nuclear, so is safety.

When developing an electrical power generating system, one must consider the thermodynamic efficiency as well as cost. One has to consider choices like the thermodynamic cycle, e.g., Rankine (steam - or really 2 phase liquid/vapor), Brayton (gas), Stirling (gas), Kalina (steam/ammonia), thermoelectric, or combinations thereof, e.g. combined cycle such as Brayton/Rankine.

The objective of the designer is to develop a cost effective solution. If one can build a system for $500/kWe, it makes no sense to build a system for$1000/kWe or \$5000/kWe.

One has to consider the capital cost, the cost of interest on that capital, assuming one uses debt to finance construction, the operational and maintenance cost, the fuel cost, and the waste disposal cost (as distinct from other O&M costs).
 P: 106 Just how do you work out the cost of a statistically predictable catastrophic accident? Any loss adjusters out there?
 PF Patron Sci Advisor P: 2,917 the Army built one that goes on a flatbed trailer truck. its intent was to make power for mobile communications centers back in the vacuum tube days.. i am told one of them provided power for the early Antarctic research station. it had advantage that they didn't have to haul in boatloads of diesel fuel and dispose of the empty drums.. google words 'los alamos godiva flattop' and you'll fnd lots of infrmation about many very odd reactors that were built in the R&D days. Godiva was a low power unshielded (i.e. naked) reactor used for among other things studying effect of radiation on rats. (now there's one for political thread....) as to someone's question what is minimum power level for sustained chain reaction - practical limit would be enough neutrons arriving at your instrument to measure. anybody know how much power the Chicago pile made? my guess in milliwatts.
Mentor
P: 21,652
 Quote by Astronuc Economics is a key part of it, and to some extent, when dealing with nuclear, so is safety.
I would say that safety is an economic issue, including an economy of scale issue: the cost of dealing with regulations does not scale proportionally to the size of a reactor/plant. I suspect this is why coal plants in the hundreds of megawatts are common, but nuclear plants are all (?) in the thousands of megawatts.
P: 21,399
 Quote by russ_watters I would say that safety is an economic issue, including an economy of scale issue: the cost of dealing with regulations does not scale proportionally to the size of a reactor/plant. I suspect this is why coal plants in the hundreds of megawatts are common, but nuclear plants are all (?) in the thousands of megawatts.
The cost of safety is certainly an economic issue, and most of that is probably in the upfront capital cost - the cost of the structures and safety system with some redundancy.

In the US, there are NP plants in the 500-800 MWe range, 800-1000 MWe, and > 1000 MWe.

35 of 69 PWRs in the US have net electrical capacity > 1000 MWe.

R.E.Ginna          498 MWe
Fort Calhoun       500 MWe
Point Beach 1      512 MWe
Point Beach 2      514 MWe
Prairie Island 2   545 MWe
Prairie Island 1   551 MWe
Kewaunee           556 MWe
H.B.Robinson       710 MWe
Turkey Point 4     720 MWe
Turkey Point 3     720 MWe
Three Mile Isl. 1  786 MWe
Surry 1            799 MWe
Surry 2            799 MWe
Crystal River 3    838 MWe
St. Lucie 2        839 MWe
St. Lucie 1        839 MWe
ANO 1              843 MWe
Oconee 1           846 MWe
Oconee 2           846 MWe
Oconee 3           846 MWe
Beaver Valley 2    846 MWe
J.Farley 1         851 MWe
J.Farley 2         860 MWe
Calvert Cliffs 2   862 MWe
Calvert Cliffs 1   873 MWe
Millstone 2        884 MWe
Beaver Valley 1    892 MWe
Shearon Harris     900 MWe
Davis Besse        913 MWe
V.C. Summer        966 MWe
North Anna 2       972.9 MWe
North Anna 1       980.5 MWe
ANO 2              995 MWe
D.C.Cook 1        1009 MWe
Indian Point 2    1020 MWe
Indian Point 3    1025 MWe
D.C.Cook 2        1060 MWe
San Onofre 2      1070 MWe
San Onofre 3      1080 MWe
McGuire 1         1100 MWe
McGuire 2         1100 MWe
A.Vogtle 1        1109 MWe
Watts Bar 1       1123 MWe
Sequoyah 2        1126 MWe
A.Vogtle 2        1127 MWe
Catawba 2         1129 MWe
Catawba 1         1129 MWe
Salem 2           1130 MWe
Byron 2           1136 MWe
Sequoyah 1        1148 MWe
Diablo Canyon 2   1149 MWe
Comanche Peak 2   1150 MWe
Diablo Canyon 1   1151 MWe
Braidwood 2       1152 MWe
Byron 1           1164 MWe
Wolf Creek1       1166 MWe
Salem 1           1174 MWe
Braidwood 1       1178 MWe
Comanche Peak 1   1200 MWe
Millstone 3       1227 MWe
Callaway          1236 MWe
Waterford         1250 MWe
Seabrook 1        1295 MWe
Palo Verde 3      1335 MWe
Palo Verde 2      1335 MWe
Palo Verde 1      1335 MWe
South Texas 2     1410 MWe
South Texas 1     1410 MWe
18 of 35 BWRs in the US have net electrical capacity > 1000 MWe.
Vermont Yankee     510 MWe
Monticello         579 MWe
Oyster Creek       619 MWe
Nine Mile Point 1  621 MWe
Duane Arnold       640 MWe
Pilgrim            685 MWe
Cooper             830 MWe
J.A.Fitzpatrick    852 MWe
Dresden 3          867 MWe
Dresden 2          867 MWe
E.I.Hatch 1        876 MWe
E.I.Hatch 2        883 MWe
Brunswick 2        937 MWe
Brunswick 1        938 MWe
River Bend 1       989 MWe
Hope Creek 1      1061 MWe
Browns Ferry 1    1065 MWe
Clinton           1065 MWe
Browns Ferry 2    1104 MWe
Peach Bottom 2    1112 MWe
Peach Bottom 3    1112 MWe
Browns Ferry 3    1115 MWe
LaSalle 1         1118 MWe
LaSalle 2         1120 MWe
Fermi 2           1122 MWe
Limerick 2        1134 MWe
Limerick 1        1134 MWe
Susquehanna 2     1140 MWe
Nine Mile Point 2 1140 MWe
Susquehanna 1     1149 MWe
Columbia Gen Sta  1190 MWe
Perry 1           1261 MWe
Grand Gulf        1297 MWe
Source: US NRC
 P: 123 astro nuke i'll be with the living here in a moment. jim how about an 'Atomic Powered Bomber' ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_aircraft same idea as 'no diesel needed'. Have A Nice Day!
 PF Patron Sci Advisor P: 2,917 ""jim how about an 'Atomic Powered Bomber' ?"" now THAT was a crazy idea... i saw a photo of it in the bomb bay of a B36 - had they ever run it it'd probably have killed the crew and been unapproachable on the ground. if you find such history interesting you'd like Freeman Dyson's book "Disturbig the Universe" He was a Manhattan Project physicist who worked on experimental reactors of the fifties, including the rocket engine. He's still actively writing about science, must be in his nineties now, and remains as refreshingly logical and insightful as ever. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/arch...gination=false
PF Patron
P: 751
 Quote by jim hardy ""jim how about an 'Atomic Powered Bomber' ?"" now THAT was a crazy idea... i saw a photo of it in the bomb bay of a B36 - had they ever run it it'd probably have killed the crew and been unapproachable on the ground. if you find such history interesting you'd like Freeman Dyson's book "Disturbig the Universe" He was a Manhattan Project physicist who worked on experimental reactors of the fifties, including the rocket engine. He's still actively writing about science, must be in his nineties now, and remains as refreshingly logical and insightful as ever. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/arch...gination=false
Afaik, the B36 was only the carrier aircraft for a reactor mockup, not for a real one.
The idea was to test the ancillary gear in a flight configuration. The actual nuclear powered aircraft would have been materially bigger.
Oddly enough, the idea died primarily because the nuclear propulsion was not easily applied to supersonic flight, the USAF priority at the time. I believe the nuclear reactor was a classic steam generator, rather than something that heated air directly. A later concept did involve direct core heating of the air for propulsion in a mach 3 low altitude ramjet, but this would have been an unmanned vehicle, an early cruise missile.

Apart from the aircraft speculation, it still seems to me that a small reactor for supporting remote sites would be a very good idea. The fuel convoys across Antarctica drecking up the worlds cleanest landscape are an ongoing scandal, imho, when a small reactor could supply all the heat and light needed. Could a standard Navy reactor not be used instead or is the lack of liquid cooling water a deal killer?
 PF Patron Sci Advisor P: 2,917 you know more about it than i do. i had an older friend who'd worked on airp;ane reactor, said it heated air for the turbojets but didnt say whether direct or via intermediate heat transport medium like water. AFAIK the Army plant in Antarctica was a scaled down Navy style plant. no reason it couldn't reject steam cycle heat to an air cooled condenser and distill its own water needs. if you parked it adjacent a lake it could cool itself from that. ""Afaik, the B36 was only the carrier aircraft for a reactor mockup, not for a real one. The idea was to test the ancillary gear in a flight configuration. The actual nuclear powered aircraft would have been materially bigger."" Bigger than a B36?? Now that's something. My earliest memory is from ca 1948 - i was about two, living not far from OpaLocka Airfield near Miami.. We kids heard this terrifying roar and shriek and a HUGE airplane flew over at treetop level, the wings seemed horizon to horizon and had their propellers on wrong side. We all high-tailed it for the bushes. Still a vivid memory after 63 years.
PF Patron
P: 751
 Quote by jim hardy you know more about it than i do. i had an older friend who'd worked on airp;ane reactor, said it heated air for the turbojets but didnt say whether direct or via intermediate heat transport medium like water. AFAIK the Army plant in Antarctica was a scaled down Navy style plant. no reason it couldn't reject steam cycle heat to an air cooled condenser and distill its own water needs. if you parked it adjacent a lake it could cool itself from that. Bigger than a B36?? Now that's something. My earliest memory is from ca 1948 - i was about two, living not far from OpaLocka Airfield near Miami.. We kids heard this terrifying roar and shriek and a HUGE airplane flew over at treetop level, the wings seemed horizon to horizon and had their propellers on wrong side. We all high-tailed it for the bushes. Still a vivid memory after 63 years.
The waste heat issue should not be a problem in a place such as Antarctica, simply because even the residual hot water would be a desirable resource. The heat exchanger would need to be specified with some care though, because it would need to function equally well at 50 below in a 100 mph wind as on a quiet sunny above freezing day. Lakes are a temperate zone luxury, unfortunately not found in Antarctica.

The projected atomic plane would have been at least twice the gross weight of a B-36. My guess is a 30+% increase in wingspan, perhaps someone who knows could add detail.
I'm surprised by the input about using the reactor heat for the engines directly.
The problem with using heat directly from the core is that a jet engine performance is constrained by the materials, which have to withstand the heat produced by compression of the incoming air. Superheating that air with a reactor rather than feeding it through the combustors would really be wonderful, but currently requires unobtainium to be workable.
Did they find a deposit of it back in the 1950s? Or maybe Powerpoint engineering has a longer history than we appreciate.
PF Patron
P: 2,917
interesting times those must have been.

internet is just amazing:
http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/...chapter3.shtml
 The Bulk Shielding Reactor and Tower Shielding Facility were designed to test materials that might be used on a nuclear-powered aircraft. For the U.S. Air Force, improved materials represented a means toward an end: a nuclear-powered engine that could drive long-range bombers to takeoff speeds and propel them around the world. To achieve this goal, the Laboratory designed an experimental 100-kW aircraft reactor as a demonstration. Mock-up of ORNL's "Fireball" reactor designed for sophisticated experiments. This small reactor, operating at high temperatures, used molten uranium salts as its fuel, which flowed in serpentine tubes through an 18-inch (46-centimeter) reactor core. A heat exchanger dissipated the reactor's heat into the atmosphere. In 1953, the Laboratory constructed a building to house this experimental reactor. To contain molten salts at high temperatures within a reactor, the Laboratory used a nickel-molybdenum alloy, INOR-8, designed by Oak Ridge researchers and fabricated at the International Nickel Company. Able to resist corrosion at high temperatures while retaining acceptable welding properties, the alloy was commercialized as Hastelloy-N by private industry (an early example of technology transfer) to supply tubing, sheet, and bar stock for industrial applications. The aircraft reactor also compelled Laboratory personnel to learn how to perform welding with remote manipulators and how to remotely disassemble molten-salt pumps. In addition, Laboratory researchers also devised two salt reprocessing schemes to recover uranium and lithium-7 from spent reactor fuel. The first test run of the Aircraft Reactor Experiment took place in October 1954. The reactor ran at 1 MW for 100 hours. Don Trauger and other observers of the reactor's operations recall that the reactor core, pumps, valves, and components literally became red hot. Completing the design, fabrication, and operation of such an exotic nuclear reactor in five years was considered a noteworthy event, and dignitaries such as General James Doolittle, Admiral Lewis Strauss, and Captain Hyman Rickover visited Oak Ridge to see the red-hot reactor in action.
unobtanium ? Wow, i coulda had INOR-8 !

that tower shielding facility was still visible just outside Knoxville, along I-75, until late 80's.
PF Patron
P: 751
 Quote by jim hardy interesting times those must have been. internet is just amazing: http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/...chapter3.shtml unobtanium ? Wow, i coulda had INOR-8 ! that tower shielding facility was still visible just outside Knoxville, along I-75, until late 80's.
Wonderful information. I did not know that. Thank you.
Only quibble is that red hot (maybe 600 degrees C) is not enough for a good engine.
A good jet engine today has a compressor exit temp of about 1000 degrees C, with turbine inlet temperatures a few hundred degrees higher. ( The turbines don't melt because cooling air from the compressor is pumped through the turbine blades.) So the reactor would need to run at about 1500 degrees C to be an adequate substitute for a contemporary fossil fuel burner.
That said, I'm sure that engineers could make a 600 degrees C heat source work pretty well. It might be horrendously inefficient, but with nuclear we have fuel to burn, so it could work.
How reliable it would be would need to be demonstrated rather carefully of course.
 PF Patron Sci Advisor P: 2,917 ""A good jet engine today has a compressor exit temp of about 1000 degrees C,.."" wow i have a good friend at Pratt-Whitney who specialized in blades. i recall his amazement at materials progress in 80's. I suspect 1950's temperatures were more modest, at least until SR71.. still,,, even in humble world of power production, when our turbine arrived on site the old timers said: " I never thought i'd see another 550 degree saturated steam turbine. And surely never any turbine this big! " thanks for your kindness, old jim
 P: 123 jim this happened to be on front page of website i was looking for for other post. 'Energy Department Takes First Step to Spur U.S. Manufacturing of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors' Have A Nice Day!
PF Patron
P: 751
 Quote by average guy jim this happened to be on front page of website i was looking for for other post. 'Energy Department Takes First Step to Spur U.S. Manufacturing of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors' Have A Nice Day!
These are fairly chunky units afaik, minimally 50 megawatts.
But they are small compared to gigawatt beasts such as the AP 1000.
P: 21,399
 Quote by average guy jim this happened to be on front page of website i was looking for for other post. 'Energy Department Takes First Step to Spur U.S. Manufacturing of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors' Have A Nice Day!
http://www.grants.gov/search/search....W&oppId=138813 (The DOE is proposing a 50% cost share with industry)
http://www.ne.doe.gov/newsroom/2012P...int.htmlCached

http://www.ne.doe.gov/pdfFiles/factS...heet_final.pdf