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MIT Designs Tsunami Proof Floating Nuclear Reactor 218

Posted by samzenpus
from the riding-the-waves dept.
First time accepted submitter Amtrak (2430376) writes "MIT has created designs for a nuclear plant that would avoid the downfall of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The new design calls for the nuclear plant to be placed on a floating platform modeled after the platforms used for offshore oil drilling. A floating platform several miles offshore, moored in about 100 meters of water, would be unaffected by the motions of a tsunami; earthquakes would have no direct effect at all. Meanwhile, the biggest issue that faces most nuclear plants under emergency conditions — overheating and potential meltdown, as happened at Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island — would be virtually impossible at sea."
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MIT Designs Tsunami Proof Floating Nuclear Reactor

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  • by The123king (2395060) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @07:09PM (#46783819)
    They power nuclear subs, nuclear icebreakers etc. Stick a transformer on it and connect it to the grid, Bingo, floating nuclear power plant.
  • by muecksteiner (102093) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @07:16PM (#46783867)

    Compare the relative frequency of major hurricanes/typhoons to that of major earthquakes. Add to that the various potential problems that any floating structure has (springing a leak and sinking comes to mind here).

    Then, consider that in Japan, the nuclear plant closest to the quake epicentre actually survived unscathed. Because the people designing it did not stick with the minimum legal specs for the seawall height like the geniuses at Fukushima had, but did some research on their own. And simply made the seawall much higher.

    Conventional plants are not that bad, if they are designed by competent people. If you put them on barges, though, as these dudes are proposing, you are just adding to the potential failure modes, while not avoiding any that are impossible to handle. Not a good thing.

  • Re:Step 2. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @07:18PM (#46783877)

    Convince the career politicians. Step 3. Convince the tax payers. There is no step 4.

    Convincing the taxpayers gets rather easy when it is career politicians ensuring alternative (or traditional) fuel costs continue to rise by placating lobbyists. They sure as hell aren't getting cheaper over time as resources continue to be depleted and we refuse (for whatever illogical or corrupt reason) to accept nuclear power in its place.

  • by mmell (832646) <> on Thursday April 17, 2014 @07:27PM (#46783949)
    She was unsinkable - right up until she sank. So when this platform gets floated off its mooring by a tsunami or whatever, how will we be sure it doesn't sustain damage sufficient to cause it to sink?

    Of course, it might save a couple hundred square miles of land from being contaminated - but contaminating thousands of square miles of ocean doesn't seem preferable to me.

  • Agreed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @08:37PM (#46784411)

    Objects floating in the ocean are EXPOSED, they are easily damaged by weather, can be attacked easily, are hard to secure, and VERY expensive to operate.

    On top of all this the article is silly. Nobody at MIT has 'designed' a reactor, they just made a proposal that is barely more than just saying "build it on an oil rig!" with a few pictures. They talk about reactors anywhere from 50MW up to 1000MW which means basically "Gosh, you could float almost any nuclear reactor!". However it is not AT ALL clear that a 1,000 MW reactor would be made safe by passive seawater cooling in the event of say the whole thing sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Consider the effects of Fukushima COMBINED with the McCondo well blow-out... Its not a pretty picture to imagine a meltdown in 100 meters of water not too far offshore. Yes, the ocean would probably make this less totally disasterous than on land, but it might also be IMPOSSIBLE to quell or clean up. Statements on the lines of "it must be safe in the ocean" are exactly what goeth before a fall in engineering.

    Anyway, it will seriously have to be studied, though I suspect others have done so already. As they said, the Russians have been working on this concept for years. That's one of the interesting things about it though, working on it for years, but where's the beef? Its probably not quite so easy as it sounds.

  • Re:Step 2. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17, 2014 @08:57PM (#46784505)

    People are so terrified of previous generation nuclear technology that they're not willing to even look at what an actual modern reactor would offer. It's like dragging up the combat specs of a Sopwith Camel and claiming that there's no place for aircraft in modern warfare.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @09:03PM (#46784541)

    Like, say, placing the emergency generators on the hills right next to it, nothing bad would have happened. Of if they had spend the extra $100.000 that would have cost for hydrogen valves, the buildings would not have exploded.

    The problem is not that nuclear cannot be made safe. The problem is that the people doing nuclear cannot make it safe. And as these are also the people doing waste storage, this will remain a serious issue for the next, say, 1 million years or so. The combination of greed and stupidity found in nuclear planners is absolutely staggering.

  • Re:Step 2. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by psyclone (187154) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @09:12PM (#46784585)
    While that sentiment is accurate, no one wants to pay for decommissioning old reactors []. Say we build a bunch of modern reactors, in 50 years will anyone want to pay for decommissioning them?

One picture is worth 128K words.