The next generation of nuclear power?

“South Africa and China are moving forward with nuclear energy based on what scientists believe is a safer design.”

Charlie Schmidt in Environmental Science & Technology:

Cs_nuclearpowerClimate change is just one of the problems linked to carbon-based fuels that have sparked a renewed interest in nuclear power. While stakeholders debate the merits of this approach, the nuclear industry and its supporters are exploring next-generation reactors that might be safer and less expensive than the ones used today. The pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR), which is based on a decades-old German design, ranks among the top contenders.

PBMR’s supporters describe the technology as inherently safe and appropriate not just for rich, industrialized countries but also for developing nations. “The beauty of the pebble bed reactor is that you don’t need an MIT Ph.D. to run it,” muses Andrew Kadak, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s department of nuclear science and engineering. “That means you can use it even in countries that don’t have the degree of history or background in nuclear technology that we have in Western Europe or here.”

PBMR proponents point to another advantage: Each reactor module generates about 170 megawatts of electrical power (MWe), far less than the 1000 MWe produced by a standard light water reactor. PBMR can thus be scaled according to need…

More here.