niall_shapero: Fox Mask (Default)
For reasons perhaps best left unsaid, I've spent a bit of time running around the Net trying to find data on small nuclear reactors. What's more, I've been trying to find something that's less than 50 tons, but has a decent power output. To no one's great surprise, I have NOT found any detailed information about the power plants on nuclear submarines ("funny" about that -- such information is likely classified). But there are some commercial reactors under development: in particular, the Hyperion reactor. The results of my (admittedly limited) research follow:

The Hyperion Reactor is a compact, sealed, self contained small nuclear reactor. It’s designed to be approximately 1.5 meters in diameter and 2.5 meters tall, which would give it a volume of roughly 4.4 cubic meters. If this reactor were the density of iron (7850 kg/cubic meter) then the mass of the reactor would be roughly 34680 kilograms, or about 34.7 tons. The projected output is 70 MW of thermal energy, roughly 25 MWe (megawatt electric). This boils down to a power density of roughly 0.72 Mwe/ton (and this assumes a fairly high average density for the reactor as a whole – so I would bet that this is likely a lowball figure). And I'd expect your 50 ton reactor to be able to put out at least 36 MWe.

More data on the Hyperion reactor can be found at:

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2009/11/hyperion-20091121.html

And a press release about the Hyperion reactor can be found at:
http://cleantechnica.com/2008/08/14/hyperion-power-generation-announces-first-customer-letter-of-intent/

Of some interest is the wikipedia entry on nuclear marine propulsion:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_marine_propulsion.

See also "Generation V+ reactors" under:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_reactor_technology

Toshiba is also working on a small reactor, but it's a 200 kWe reactor, and it's "20 feet by 6 feet" (height not given) so likely well outside the size limits I was asked to keep within. Such is life... See:
http://www.nextenergynews.com/news1/next-energy-news-toshiba-micro-nuclear-12.17b.html)

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