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Underground nuclear powerplant

  1. Nov 29, 2012 #1
    Perhaps this is a very stupid question, but why aren't nuclear power-plants built underground?

    In a subterranean structure I'm thinking any natural disaster would at worst collapse the cavity without spreading radioactivity.

    Are subterranean construction really so intrinsically difficult that the costs would skyrocket compared to an "overground" plant?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2012 #2
  4. Nov 29, 2012 #3

    Astronuc

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    There are increased costs associated with building the structure underground, as well as seismic (coupling with the surrounding ground) and flood considerations.
     
  5. Nov 29, 2012 #4
    Has B&W sold one of the mPower designs yet?
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
  6. Nov 29, 2012 #5
    I'm not positive if they've "sold" one, but they did win that money from the DoE and are supposedly going to be working with TVA on building a site.
     
  7. Nov 29, 2012 #6

    Astronuc

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    mPower has teamed with TVA (utility) and Bechtel (A&E), so there appears to be intent on the part of TVA to purchase a unit. It would be constructed at the Clinch River site, where CRBR was supposed to have been built.

    http://www.babcock.com/products/modular_nuclear/generation_mpower.html [Broken]
    http://www.babcock.com/news_and_events/2012/20121120a.html [Broken]
    http://www.generationmpower.com/about/ [Broken]
    http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/11/20/bw-selected-as-winner-of-does-small-modular-reacto/
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-mPower_empowered_by_SMR_funds_121112a.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  8. Nov 30, 2012 #7
    In order to prevent meltdown, you need to cool the reactor. Just burying it won't help that much - it will melt there too, and very hot contaminated steam WILL find a way out.
     
  9. Nov 30, 2012 #8

    mheslep

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    There may or may no have been some commercial sales/funding for small modular, but there certainly has been no Combined Operating Licence issued in the US. Nor is a small modular COL likely in the next ten years.
     
  10. Nov 30, 2012 #9

    mheslep

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    Unless its a fluid fueled reactor, with gas cooling. If a commercial reactor is ever to be buried, I can't imagine it would be a pressure water reactor.
     
  11. Nov 30, 2012 #10
    If you bury some other reactor type, the decay heat will eventually heat up the atmosphere and pressurize it even without steam. This ultimately could lead to failure of the structure (if decay heat loads are high enough). It would likely take longer to occur though.
     
  12. Nov 30, 2012 #11

    Astronuc

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    Southern Company reports that the NRC commissioners voted to approve the COL for Vogtle 3&4 (twin AP-1000s).

    Construction is underway - http://www.southerncompany.com/nuclearenergy/presskit/home.aspx [Broken]

    http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/col/vogtle.html#col

    Issuance of Combined Licenses And Limited Work Authorizations For Vogtle Electric Generating Plant (VEGP) Units 3 And 4.
    Accession Number: ML113540620
    Date Released: Friday, February 10, 2012
    http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1135/ML113540620.html

    http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1133/ML113360395.pdf

    The DCD is up to Rev. 19
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  13. Dec 5, 2012 #12
    As Astronuc said, underground nuclear plants are much more expensive to build.

    And they aren't much safer.
    Crooked Swiss Lucens mountain nuclear plant made groundwater in its vicinity unusable because of high radioactive contamination.
    Soviet Union had a number of weapon plutonium reactors built in mountain caverns, but these were not used for electricity generation iirc.
     
  14. Dec 26, 2012 #13
    So it was as I feared, it isn't the superior concept it appeared to be at a glance.

    Thanks for all help!
     
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