Debate and innovation define nuclear energy’s present and future

This article was originally featured on Knowable Magazine.

In an online video from Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, a cartoon simulation shows a tsunami wiping out one of their future nuclear power stations and cutting off power. What happens next? Not much: The reactor quietly shuts itself down. “It cools off just by sitting there, no moving parts or fluids, no operator actions,” says the reassuring video. “We’ve designed a reactor that is inherently safe no matter the events.”

The Seattle-based Ultra Safe and dozens of other companies like it are at the forefront of a global nuclear energy revival. As the world urgently needs to wean itself off fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and get the planet’s temperature under control, policymakers, companies and researchers are reexamining nuclear energy as a green alternative that can help bolster the power produced by renewables like wind and solar. Today the industry is emerging from a period of stagnation, with a promise to double or triple its capacity by 2050.

That revival is undergirded by two hot technology trends. Companies like Ultra Safe are aiming to build small modular reactors (SMRs) designed to be just a fraction of the size of former plants, to reduce both building costs and the scope of possible disasters. And many are aiming to utilize new technologies designed to make meltdown accidents impossible and to create less long-lived waste.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top