SMRs to improve nuclear power safety
New research from the University of Lincoln suggests a new, smaller type of nuclear reactor might be a suitable candidate to meet the world’s growing demand for energy, while simultaneously reducing emissions and improving safety.
The Small Modular Reactors (SMR) – in particular the Light Water Reactor – is a simplified and compacted reactor that allows for improvements in safety and physical protection. The systems are passive, which reduces the effects of human error and perform well and predictably in extreme circumstances.
“Preliminary results indicate that SMRs perform better or at least as well as large reactors,” said Dr Giorgio Locatelli from the School of Engineering. “We expect that SMRs will play an important role in nuclear industry in the next decades.”
“With fusion-based power plants not currently being considered viable for large-scale deployment for at least 40 years, other technologies must be considered. Renewable and high efficiency combined gas-fired plants, along with nuclear power plants, are regarded as the most suitable candidates, with SMRs developing as the favoured choice,” he added.
SMRs’ small size makes them an ideal option for locations not suited to large-scale plants and requires limited upfront capital investment. Locatelli says that SMRs are a suitable choice if the power to be installed is in the range of 1-3 Gigawatt Electrical (GWe).
The reactors could be useful for newcomers to the nuclear market – such as Kenya – or private utilities; large reactors will still be preferable for areas requiring higher outputs.
The research – published in Progress in Nuclear Energy – aims to help policy makers decide on the best way to meet the growing demand for energy.
Small modular reactors: A comprehensive overview of their economics and strategic aspects