Home/neighborhood/town nuclear capability

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  • #1
DoggerDan

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This guy (Swedish) was trying to build a nuclear reactor in his home: http://news.yahoo.com/swedish-man-caught-trying-split-atoms-home-153341057.html

I think it's interesting the headlines say the police "caught" him when in fact he had "sent a question to Sweden's Radiation Authority" when he wondered whether it was legal to do so or not.

Aside from the issue of securing nuclear material, what's the technical feasibility of smaller thermic piles used for neighborhoods or subdivisions in lieu of buying electricity off the grid?

Is it inefficient to do so on a smaller scale, or is it countered by the line loss of sending current over the grid?

Would the cost of smaller, mass-produced units be cost-prohibitive as compared to a multi-megawatt plant?
 
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  • #2
Ryan_m_b
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There is a company called Hyperion Power Generation who are perusing this, trying to make small nuclear reactors with outputs on the order of 50-100MW for towns and city neighbourhoods.
 
  • #3
Astronuc
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This guy (Swedish) was trying to build a nuclear reactor in his home: http://news.yahoo.com/swedish-man-caught-trying-split-atoms-home-153341057.html

I think it's interesting the headlines say the police "caught" him when in fact he had "sent a question to Sweden's Radiation Authority" when he wondered whether it was legal to do so or not.

Aside from the issue of securing nuclear material, what's the technical feasibility of smaller thermic piles used for neighborhoods or subdivisions in lieu of buying electricity off the grid?

Is it inefficient to do so on a smaller scale, or is it countered by the line loss of sending current over the grid?

Would the cost of smaller, mass-produced units be cost-prohibitive as compared to a multi-megawatt plant?
It's not practical given the legal and regulatory compliance issues. Possession of special nuclear material (SNM) is restricted, as is possession of radwaste, which is an inherent by-product of the use of SNM for power generation.
 
  • #4
Astronuc
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There is a company called Hyperion Power Generation who are perusing this, trying to make small nuclear reactors with outputs on the order of 50-100MW for towns and city neighbourhoods.
HPG's site - http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/product.html [Broken] -
and it's not trivial.
 
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  • #5
Ryan_m_b
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HPG's site - http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/product.html [Broken] -
and it's not trivial.
Yeah I didn't expect it to be. To be honest the idea of the local neighbourhood nuclear power station sounds like fantasy to me. Firstly nuclear reactors are hugely complex and expensive and secondly the public outcry would be huge.
 
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  • #6
NUCENG
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Yeah I didn't expect it to be. To be honest the idea of the local neighbourhood nuclear power station sounds like fantasy to me. Firstly nuclear reactors are hugely complex and expensive and secondly the public outcry would be huge.
Admittedly unlikely, but... Actually, that is exactly how "THEY" reacted when Mr Edison and Mr Westinghouse started stringing wires and the Wright brothers got serious about kites.

All we need is Doc Brown, his flux capacitor, and Mr. Fusion. Jules Verne wrote fantasy about going to the moon and submarines. Even Sean Connery had to make a movie "Never Say Never Again." Funny thing about fantasy is that people keep making it into reality.
 
  • #7
jim hardy
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hmm i guess he could get uranium bearing rocks from a rockhound show,
Americium from a smoke detector,
and radium - who knows maybe there's still some of that old paint around.

i would guess there's not really a lot to the story but who knows?

anyhow as to neighborhood nukes:
the Navy and Army have run small modular reactors since the 1950's. There was one in Antarctica for the US base there.
so it can be done.
But if one has to man the place 24/7 with highly skilled people one might as well take advantage of "economy of scale". The cost, even just for salaries, needs to be spread out over a pretty large customer base to be practical, i think.

i wouldnt want to live next to an unattended one.
 
  • #8
DoggerDan
It's not practical given the legal and regulatory compliance issues. Possession of special nuclear material (SNM) is restricted, as is possession of radwaste, which is an inherent by-product of the use of SNM for power generation.
HPG's site - http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/product.html [Broken] -
and it's not trivial.
Are you saying Hyperion's efforts are pointless due to the technical or regulatory hurdles involved, or just that they face a daunting task? With today's technology, would the cost of neighborhood/city installations, if done on a large scale, be competitive with traditional nuclear, coal, oil, or gas power plants?
 
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  • #9
Ryan_m_b
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Are you saying Hyperion's efforts are pointless due to the technical or regulatory hurdles involved, or just that they face a daunting task? With today's technology, would the cost of neighborhood/city installations, if done on a large scale, be competitive with traditional nuclear, coal, oil, or gas power plants?
I highly doubt it considering the technical issues, the regulations they would have to conform to and public opinion on the matter.
 
  • #10
DoggerDan
Yeah I didn't expect it to be. To be honest the idea of the local neighbourhood nuclear power station sounds like fantasy to me.
Sounds more like Science Fiction to me, but I was raised in the 60s. Many things that were science fiction when I was growing up have become fact.

Firstly nuclear reactors are hugely complex and expensive...
The simplest forms of nuclear power generation are nuclear batteries the size of a large button and were used in space vehicles decades ago. It's size and complexity varies with respect to it's purpose.

However, what about a neighborhood solar array to offset grid power during peak hours? Or, for that matter, to offset it whenever?

...and secondly the public outcry would be huge.
I highly doubt it considering the technical issues, the regulations they would have to conform to and public opinion on the matter.
While I understand this, I've never understood how people could base their decisions on emotion rather than fact. Nuclear retains one of the best power safety records on a per-MW generated basis.
 
  • #12
Ryan_m_b
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Sounds more like Science Fiction to me, but I was raised in the 60s. Many things that were science fiction when I was growing up have become fact.
I make no distinction between science fiction and fantasy, the former is merely the latter with more plausible sounding words.

The simplest forms of nuclear power generation are nuclear batteries the size of a large button and were used in space vehicles decades ago. It's size and complexity varies with respect to it's purpose.
I think you're referring here to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator" [Broken]. I'm no expert but I'm fairly sure that the former is too inefficient for anything more than niché terrestrial use.

However, what about a neighborhood solar array to offset grid power during peak hours? Or, for that matter, to offset it whenever?
That would be great if solar panels were both cheap, efficient, durable and cost-effective in terms of the environmental cost of their production. I think solar power has far more promise than most other forms of renewable, it's getting better all the time and I hope to see the day where solar panels doubling as roof tiles are ubiquitous.

While I understand this, I've never understood how people could base their decisions on emotion rather than fact. Nuclear retains one of the best power safety records on a per-MW generated basis.
Tell me about it.
 
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  • #13
Astronuc
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Are you saying Hyperion's efforts are pointless due to the technical or regulatory hurdles involved, or just that they face a daunting task? With today's technology, would the cost of neighborhood/city installations, if done on a large scale, be competitive with traditional nuclear, coal, oil, or gas power plants?
It's a daunting task for small companies/startups. The regulatory process is pretty straightforward, but their could be hurdles depending one certain technical issues - how close the fuel is to technical limits.

Attracting viable capital stream is perhaps the biggest to startup nuclear companies - because of the risk. Those providing capital will want assurance of a return on investment.

Even if the reactor/plant viability can be demonstrated, there is the back end - the spent fuel that needs permanent disposition - either reprocessing or direct deposit into a final repository. Otherwise, a NPP supplier will not have any customers.
 

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