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Power Technology

MIT Designs Tsunami Proof Floating Nuclear Reactor 218

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 CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @07:13PM (#46783853)

    They power nuclear subs, nuclear icebreakers etc. Stick a transformer on it and connect it to the grid, Bingo, floating nuclear power plant.

    More to it than that. The overwhelming majority of the power for a nuclear sub/icebreaker/etc is used to make the props go roundy-roundy.

    Only a very small part of that power goes to drive the generators (note that nuclear powered ships/subs HAVE been used to provide emergency power to shore installations, by the by).

    And since the generators are sized for the amount of power needed by the boat/ship, you can't just push more steam through them to get more power.

  • by cbhacking ( 979169 ) <.moc.oohay. .ta. ... isiurc_tuo_neeb.> on Thursday April 17, 2014 @07:19PM (#46783891) Homepage Journal

    Still, it's a reasonable proof-of-concept in many ways. Scaling it up and using a tethered platform instead of a mobile isn't a trivial engineering exercise, but we already know how to produce multi-GW nuclear plants. This gives us a good, safe place to put them. It also means they don't have to go sucking up precious river water for their heat exchangers and cooling towers; the ocean is as big a heat sink as we could hope for on Earth.

  • Re:Waste? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @07:35PM (#46784017)

    You missed it. Reprocessing.

  • by OneAhead ( 1495535 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @07:58PM (#46784159)

    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.

    Yeah, and then once the water came over the seawall, the inevitable mayhem was exacerbated by:
    * A lot of the electrical equipment needed to get the pumps up-and-running again being under the waterline and not sealed, so flooded and water-damaged
    * The backup generators being placed in a vulnerable position
    * The containment being an obsolete design, based on engineering principles that have long been discredited (but hey, there are many of those still up and running in the USA)
    * Common "bugfixes" to mitigate some of the known weaknesses of the design (valves and stuff) not being implemented
    * The spent fuel pools not being very well contained, and pretty full (endemic in the industry)

    Hindsight is 20/20, but my point is, the industry can be made a whole lot safer just with some simple fixes, not to even mention newer designs that have passive cooling capabilities. If it would not have been dismissing its critics for decades, something this accident would never have been this bad, and the industry's future would not be threatened by public outrage. In line with what parent said, Fukushima Daiichi comes close to a "man-made disaster".

    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.

    To be honest, TFA is a lot better thought-out than a nuclear-plant-on-a-barge, but even so, it remains a monstrosity that gives me the creeps just looking at the CGI.

  • Re:Waste? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @09:26PM (#46784659)
    And it is still a non-issue. When it is 30 years later and you can still store it on-site then it is not a lot of waste. Compare that to any other energy source, the amount of toxic waste, even solar panel manufacturing and you have your answer.
  • Re:Step 2. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday April 17, 2014 @09:33PM (#46784689)

    Make them finance the decommissioning at build time. I believe they did this in the 70s with Vermont Yankee, though clearly they screwed up. Presumably we can do better with the actuarial stuff now that some of these older plants are shutting down.

    The main problem is that no one can justify building one right now. Hell, it is hard to justify the _operation_ of one. Natural gas is cheap, and even coal plants are shutting down because they cannot compete.

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