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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Tomorrow at the Barbican Centre in London Hyperion will unveil its design for small nuclear power plants.
CEO John Grizz Deal to present at several Masterclasses at the Powering Towards 2020 Event, The Future of Power Generation in the UK. Held at The Barbican, London
November 19th
Register to attend!
Al Fin reports
Hyperion's 25 MWe reactor is factory built and factory fueled and re-fueled. It can be shipped by truck, train, or ship. It provides enough power for 20,000 modern homes. A single fueling is good for 5+ years. They are designed for burial underground, for additional safety. All for a mere $25 million -- or about $1,250 per household in a 20,000 home community. For over 5 years of baseload power and heat, a $1,250 investment is minimal.
$25 million puts it at $1 bn per Gigawatt which is less than the purchase price of the Westinghouse AP1000 ($1.2-$1.8bn) & without the running costs. I assume they are expecting this because of the economies of scale in mass producing these. That comes to 42p a day though the price of $25 million does not include the power conversion and other "balance of plant" costs. So the price needs to be doubled to $50 million to get more of an all in price. I'd go for that - I think almost everybody would.

Previously I wrote of Hyperion's intent to make 1 of their 3 worldwide factories in Britain, thereby scooping the entire British media which is more interested in reporting, at least when feeding at the trough of government spin doctors, that the government is going to put £50 million into refurbishing 10 railway stations in Labour constituencies.

Before that I expressed doubts about this on the grounds that at that time it looked more expensive than normal sized reactors & that it was therefore an example of the political advantages of small engineering trumping the marginal cost disadvantage. This appears no longer to be the case while the political advantages remain.

Because the units are as interchangeable as cars & not much bigger, the service they provide will be exactly the same anywhere in the world. That means that it will be absolutely clear to voters that any difference in price or in installation time will be entirely due to government parasitism. This transparency will be a very strong factor minimising such regulatory parasitism.

Another effect Al discusses is that it will allow small communities to maintain easy power off the national grid. The social effects of this could be immense since it will make seasteding viable or economic independence for small communities. Just as Victorian mass industrialisation created big political units so technology like this makes small communities, competing on economic & technological freedom rather than economies of scale more viable. An Islay community as an independent state becomes more viable. There is also a psychological advantage in small local generation - indeed Hyperion have had enquiries from windfarmers about getting one of these so they can supply windpower when it isn't windy, which shows how cynical the entire eco-fascist thing is.

Next Big Future goes into the technology of these "nuclear batteries" here.

Al Fin also has this listing of small, though mostly not as small, nukes coming up.

The Age of Cheap & Available Power, far from being over, has barely begun as we see that nuclear generator technology generally improving & equally important, the ability of eco-fascist parasites to stop it has just been sharply reduced.

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Al Fin put this response to a comment of mine on his blog:

"Neil, I recommend you read a couple of informed postings critical of the Hyperion approach here and here . I am beginning to become a true convert to the LFTR approach.

Like I mentioned before to Neil, I'm beginning to see how much better the LFTR approach is likely to be -- even for small modular reactors. Cheaper, more plentiful fuel. Far less toxic waste at the end."

LFTR is Liquid Fluorine THORIUM Reactor. The first of these sites contains:

"LFTRs could be designed to be as small as the Hyperion, but LFTR cores, and other major parts are truck transportable in much larger size. In fact a 400 MWe LFTR can be truck transported in several sections. Like the Hyperion, the LFTR is quite simple, in fact the LFTR is simpler. Indeed the manufacturing cost of a 400 MWe LFTR might not be higher than the manufacturing cost of a 25MWe Hyperion."

That sounds pretty damn good. On the one hand we don't have it yet but on the other when you know several theoretical engineering solutions to a problem you have definitely got it licked. It is clear that the only thing that can prevent us having VERY cheap & plentiful power is politics - actual technological progress has never been as fast.
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