The Savannah River site could host the first Hyperion small reactor after a siting deal intended to allow rapid development of the new power generator.
A memorandum of understanding signed by Hyperion and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions "envisions collaboration with [site owner] the Department of Energy (DoE) on an array of technical and policy issues." Hyperion told World Nuclear News that as a DoE site, there is leeway to develop nuclear facilities at Savannah River without having fully completed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's usual licensing procedures. Nevertheless, the company stressed that the regulator still be closely involved.
The company told WNN the demonstration would cost "less than $50 million" and that it would hope to source this from the private sector. Hyperion declined to elaborate on a timeline for the development.
Installed underground, the unit would be small - "about the size of a refrigerator" - with a thermal capacity of 75 MW. From this is should be possible to generate 25 MWe, which Hyperion said is "enough to power a US military base, university or government complex."
The fast reactor design uses lead bismuth coolant and uranium nitride fuel enriched to almost 20% uranium-235. It would need refuelling only every ten years and this would be done by removing the entire power module, which includes the reactor core and primary coolant loop. At Savannah River the plan is to remove these in standard nuclear transport containers to a specialist facility so that no high-level radioactive materials are stored on site.
Hyperion CEO John Deal said, "Transportable, permanently sealed small reactors providing localized distributed power can be ideal for isolated locations that require an uninterruptible source of power, but they also have the potential to give utilities greater flexibility to add generation in a way that's comparatively inexpensive." He noted, "About 70% of the countries in the world don't have the capability to transmit electricity any appreciable distance and 25% of the planet's population has no electricity generation at all."
Signing the agreement for Savannah River Nuclear Services, pesident and CEO Garry Flowers said, "This is a another logical way to maximise the nation's return on 60 years of investment at Savannah River."
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News