This article discusses advanced reactor technologies that are now getting renewed attention after the Fukushima nuclear plant accident. Interest in smaller reactors has been growing in recent years. Some of these designs have advantages over the traditional large light water reactors (LWRs) for certain applications. The smaller designs carry less of an inventory of nuclear material, so there is less material at risk in an accident involving a release. Proponents of small modular reactors (SMRs) point to cost savings due to the factory fabrication and shorter construction times. They have significant advantages for countries with small grids, where a current 1500 MWe reactor would exceed demand and threaten grid stability. Other designs that are getting the most attention at present are small or medium LWR concepts. In addition to their smaller size, these designs differ from current large, light-water designs in that most of them use an “integral” design. Most major reactor components are inside the reactor pressure vessel, thus significantly reducing the threat of a major loss-of-coolant accident.
Nuclear Power after Fukushima
Gail H. Marcus is an independent consultant on nuclear power technology and policy. Marcus previously worked as deputy director-general of the Nuclear Energy Agency in Paris and as principal deputy director of the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science, and Technology at the U.S. Department of Energy. She also has served as president of the American Nuclear Society and as chair of the Engineering Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
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Marcus, G. H. (December 1, 2011). "Nuclear Power after Fukushima." ASME. Mechanical Engineering. December 2011; 133(12): 27–29. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2011-DEC-2
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