“Hyperion Nuclear Power Generator”

I got the scoop from a post at NextBigFuture.com. This looks very cool:

Hyperion Power Generation, Inc., (HPG) with the assistance of Los Alamos National Laboratory, is developing and commercializing a small, factory-sealed, mass-produced, transportable nuclear power module that is uniquely safe and proliferation-resistant. The technology utilizes and builds upon similar features of the 60+ TRIGA training reactors that have been safely operated for years in universities and laboratories around the globe.
[…]
Three factories, spread across the globe are planned by the company to produce and ship the approximately 4,000 units of the first design.
[…]
Each unit produces 70 megawatts of thermal energy, or 27 megawatts of electricity when connected to a steam turbine. That amount is enough to provide electricity for 20,000 average-size American-style homes or the industrial equivalent.

I would like to see safe distributed nuclear power around the globe to power the grids.

Attention Entrepreneurs: More of this, and faster please!

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8 Responses

  1. Cost of the reactor – $1400/kW, right? Prospective manufacturer Hyperion Power Generation says it will deliver 25MW of power, that is 25,000kW.

    That leads to reactor cost of 25,000 x $1,400 = $35 million.

    It will supply 25MW, ie. 25,000kW of energy 24 hrs a day. That is 600,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) a day, 365 days a year. That is 219 million kWh a year. For five years. That is 1,095 million kWh over five years, or just over 1 billion kWh. For an outlay of 35 million dollars.

    That is approx. 3.2 cents/kWh. OECD electricity generating cost projections for year 2010 are 2.7-5.5c/kWh for coal fired. 4.3-6.4c/kWh for gas fired, 3.7-6.8 c/kWh for full scale nuclear. So the Hyperion power module comes out reasonably competitive – when you count the cost of the reactor modukle alone. So is this a reasonably good idea, given that it does not emit anything?

    Perhaps, maybe. Depends on whether it is still competitive when you add the cost of shipping the reactor from factory in New Mexico, USA to (for example), the city of Wagga Wagga, Australia (and back again every 5 years for refueling). And the cost of reactor reinstallation every five years.

    This reactor is an excellent and elegant solution to the non-polluting heat source problem. But you still must add a steam turbine. “Just hooking up a steam turbine” just does not cut it. You will need a steam plant with large pumps and larger heat exchangers to produce steam for that turbine.

    Unless you know how to produce steam without water, you will need a local source of water, and quite conceivably a cooling tower and a water treatment plant to reuse that water.

    Last but not least, you will need an industrial size 25 MW generator coupled to the shaft of that turbine.

    All this will cost in the vicinity of $20-30 million over and above the cost of the reactor. Not including the building to house the whole thing. Plus the costs of maintenance, the local distribution grid, an alternative power supply for when the turbine is down for repairs etc. etc.. Factor it all in, and your electricity is soon at 10c/kWh and your bottom line is disappearing rapidly.

    Rural and remote locations, absolutely – as long as you are able to get in your heavy transport, cranes and earthmoving machinery to dig in the reactor, erect a turbogenerator shed, bring in and install about 100 tonnes of heavy machinery.

    You are not suggesting by any chance that a 25MW steam turbine with a generator and a steam plant weight next to nothing?

    Neither a plant to feed a 25MW turbogenerator with high pressure steam, nor a turbine hall for it are an enclosure the size of a 20kW diesel generator at an idyllic thatched hut African village that graphic artists are imagining.

    For urban power loads, forget it, unless you can scale this reactor design up to about 500MW and have the larger model as a retrofit heat source for existing coal and gas fired power stations.

  2. For urban power loads, the steam cycle and distribution network is already in place. Same for much of eastern Europe and Asia and all of Oceana (where they pay over 40 cents/kw today).

    Also, even if adding steam and distribution infrastructure doubles the cost, you are putting every warlord in Africa out of business by providing energy for clinics, water purification, waste treatment, etc.

  3. “Also, even if adding steam and distribution infrastructure doubles the cost, you are putting every warlord in Africa out of business by providing energy for clinics, water purification, waste treatment, etc.”

    I like that.

    This has to be for the world, not just the US.

  4. 60+ TRIGA training reactors that have been safely operated for years in universities and laboratories around the globe.

    So regular Americans must pay through the nose for electricity and energy while college professors get nuclear power to fuel their pet projects?

    Interesting pyramid scheme here.

  5. Attention Entrepreneurs: More of this, and faster please!

    obama knows what is best for his family in Africa, Purple. He won’t be cruel and require people to use nuclear energy with the attendant risks of Chernobyl and radiation.

    That’d be bad for PR and votes, ya know.

  6. Ym…I am pretty sure that nuclear power can be made affordable and wide spread through better product and reduced regulation.

    I am not in favor of “green” energy for the sake of being “green” (trust me).

    It has to make economic sense. If the solution can be deployed globally even to gap nations so much the better!

  7. Early models always cost more and are less efficient. Think of the university reactors as part beta test and part apprenticeship program.

  8. To make electricity from heat you need the steam and electric generators mentioned above. A steam condenser is also needed and what has not been mentioned is the cost associated with the type of coolant used for the steam condenser.
    The coolant can be ambient air driven by expensive, motor-driven fans blowing ambient air across large finned tube condensors.
    The alternative is to cool using water but in some cases the use of water can introduce significant environmental problems.

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