Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gas Cooled Small Nuclear Reactors -- The Slayer of EROEI, The Death of Peak Oil

DOE ORNL Small Modular Reactors PDF

In an earlier article, we detailed several incredible energy breakthroughs which would be made possible by abundant, cheap, high temperature process heat from nuclear reactors. We demonstrated how the concept of EROEI would be made obsolete and how peak oil could be turned into a distant sour memory.

Industry is doing its part to develop scalable generators of heat and power (PDF via Brian Wang), at increasingly affordable prices. It is the US government -- in particular Obama's NRC under Jaczko -- which is gumming up the works. By delaying the licensing of safe, advanced, world-changing nuclear technologies, the Obama administration is adding to its damnable record of overall energy starvation.
Short List of SMRs from World-Nuclear

It is impossible to overstate the importance of cheap and abundant process heat for the transition to a more abundant society -- in terms of energy, fuels, food, chemicals, materials, and more.
With plentiful process heat provided at temperatures between 700 C and 950 C, a person could kill peak oil and have plenty of energy left to power industry and a broad spectrum of industrial processes.   Specifically, one could:
  1. Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in oil sands (PDF)
  2. Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in coal to liquids and gas to liquids (PDF)
  3. Unlock the trillions of barrels oil equivalent in shale oil kerogens 
  4. Provide abundant industrial process heat for production of fertilisers, refining fuels, making plastics, etc 
  5. Split CO2 into CO to use as a hydrogen carrier 
  6. Overturn conventional fears of EROEI and Peak Oil 
Those things, and many more, will be accomplished by next generation gas-cooled high temperature nuclear reactors. Helium gas coolant will run gas turbine generators at high temperatures, which provides electrical power at higher efficiencies than older steam cycle generation systems. And as mentioned above, the higher temperature process heat will find a wide range of practical uses in industrial processes and energy production. _Source
With combined heat and power, versatile, portable gas-cooled SMRs can go to where the resource is in a timely fashion. Instead of requiring ten years to build and implement -- like conventional nuclear reactors -- the smaller, cheaper, safer, and more versatile SMRs can be built and installed in under 2 years.

With all of these advantages, one has to wonder why any benevolent government would stonewall the development of this technology.

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