Monday, February 22, 2010

General Atomics Launches Trailerable EM2 Fission Reactor Capable of Burning Nuclear Waste

Yet another large industrial corporation has announced its intention of developing and selling a small nuclear reactor, with the capacity to consume nuclear waste as fuel. General Atomics is announcing the EM2, or "Energy Multiplier Module."
The General Atomics reactor, which is dubbed EM2 for Energy Multiplier Module, would be about one-quarter the size of a conventional reactor and have unusual features, including the ability to burn used fuel, which still contains more than 90% of its original energy. Such reuse would reduce the volume and toxicity of the waste that remained. General Atomics calculates there is so much U.S. nuclear waste that it could fuel 3,000 of the proposed reactors, far more than it anticipates building...

...The EM2 would operate at temperatures as high as 850 degrees Centigrade, which is about twice as hot as a conventional water-cooled reactor. The very high temperatures would make the reactor especially well suited to industrial uses that go beyond electricity production, such as extracting oil from tar sands, desalinating water and refining petroleum to make fuel and chemicals. _WSJ
The project is expected to be hung up by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's huge and growing backlog for certifying safer, cheaper, more reliable nuclear reactors.

Since it has been 30 years since the last reactor was built in the US, one might wonder what the NRC has been doing with its time and budgeted funds the last three decades. But that is government for you -- if you depend on government for anything important, prepare to be disappointed.

Hyperion has already announced its intention of building its small scale modular reactors in the UK, to avoid the US NRC bottleneck. Expect more such announcements in the future, as an already slow and bloated NRC becomes even slower and more bloated under the Obama - Pelosi reich.



Blogger Chris said...

What was the point of the "Obama- Pelosi Reich" comment?
Also what does this reactor burn old, spent nuclear fuel INTO? Does it just come out completely safe? Not likely. More likely that its just developing more usable energy from the fuel that already exists- which is very cool.

5:29 PM  

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