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Submersed nuclear power plants

  1. Oct 15, 2011 #1
    Hello everyone, it's been a while since I posted here! Unfortunately, I've been away from the nuclear engineering scene and detoured to computer science. My job now is as a programmer for avionics. I enjoy it, but it isn't my first love.

    Recently, though, I got invited by my uncle to help out a friend of his that is trying to get an odd project off the ground. I volunteered, but looking over his ideas, I think they are a little baseless in their assumptions...

    Here is his website: http://txgroup.org [Broken]

    And his nuclear power plant proposal: http://txgroup.org/media/kunena/attachments/66/Nuclear_Power_Proposal.pdf [Broken]

    He is a nice guy, but I don't think this will work and I'd like him to not waste his time on it. What should I tell him is the biggest flaw with his idea? That if the ocean is used as an emergency coolant, the ocean is going to be contaminated? That a free floating plant is going to be an engineering feat of its own? That the enrichment needed for nuclear sub fuel would be economically inviable for a commercial plant?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 16, 2011 #2


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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  4. Oct 16, 2011 #3


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    Many plants located oceanside/seaside use seawater directly in the condensers.

    The Russians have proposed floating NPPs and their icebreakers use seawater cooled nuclear plants.

    There have been proposals in the past to place nuclear reactors off-shore, but not necessarily submerged.

    And Toshiba has proposed small sealed modular reactors for small municipalities, which would contain highly enriched cores that would operate for 10-20 years without refueling.

    However, it is very difficult for an individual to successfully introduce a nuclear reactor considering the effort (many man-years, usually by a team of dozens of engineers and hundreds of support staff) to design and license the plant, reactor and fuel.
  5. Oct 17, 2011 #4


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    Basic questions

    1. The reactor would be at a depth where thre are no effects of hurricanes and tsunamis. But the power transmission to shore will have to transit the zone where it could be affected. It is high energy underwater which is conductive and a signicantly different capacitance from dry air. Has the design accouted for that?

    2. The depth will require cooling water at depth. Commpared to a commercial plant this will be at a higher pressure requiring stronger piping. The typical commercial plant intakes (lower pressure are huge and are likely to be concrete. That is a safety issue for personnel versus a very expensive design issue.

    3. Submarines undergo periodic shipyard availabilities to inspect and maintain the hull. This is a political and technical issue for a submerged nuclear power plant.

    4. The plant will need to reject heat to the ocean. Has the effect of heating at depth on the surrounding ecosystem been considered? Greenpeace and the Sierra Club will likely want to know.

    5. Turbine air ejectors remove non-condensible gases from condensers. If this is a steam plant, how will the gases be released.

    6. If the plant is modeled on a scaled-up submarine it will be a PWR. Steam Generator venting is going to be interesting and if released outboard will be pretty violent and thermally exciting.

    7. How will spent fuel be handled? Where will you put it? What will be done with the plant at decommisioning?

    8. Will the plants be inside territorial waters? Based on maritime laws, how will security be maintained when even drug runners have submarines and potential enemies have right of innocent passage and freedom of the seas. How will trawlers and seine fishing vessels be excluded from the area? Is this a national defense issue or the utilities responsibility?

    9. With advanced land-based nuclear plant designs available, why would you increase the complexity and costs in this way?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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