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Mini-Nukes opening move

 
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brian-hansen
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:17 pm    Post subject: Mini-Nukes opening move Reply with quote

In a different topic, jabailo posted the following:

jabailo wrote:
Don't like hydrogen?

Then go nukes...they're coming down in size and can provide more off grid power for small neighborhoods of 20,000:

Quote:
http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/36758

This nuclear reactor or "battery" as the firm calls it is not much larger than a hot-tub and could supply thermal energy at a rate of about 70 MW. That could be converted into about 27 MW of electricity, which would be enough to supply about 20,000 US households.

http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/



This article provides enough information to do an economic analysis,
which I will get to in a moment.

The article suggests, and the follow-on commentary explicitly
describes vulnerabilities of this technology, to which I will add
that the system appears to be vulnerable to water being introduced
past the seal. Burying it might not be such a great idea.

**************************************

So, how much would we be willing to pay today for 5 years use of
a 27 Mw power plant?

I like to start my assumptions with $0.10/kwh, because it is fairly
representative of what people currently pay, and is such an easy
figure to work with.

A 5-year, 27Mw system generates:

27Mwh/h * 24h/day * 365days/year * 5


about 1.2 million Mwh. or 1.2 billion kwh. I rounded up, so this time
I'll round down and say 1 billion kwh.

That translates to $100 million.

Can I buy, site, operate, and decommission this thing for $100,000,000?
If so, then there is a business case.

**************************************


Incidentally, this analysis would seem to apply to any technology.
$100,000,000 seems like it could buy a lot of other ways of getting
energy... I'm just sayin'...
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

According to the Physics World article

Quote:
The firm says that it started the process of getting the reactor which is expected to cost about $25m


I realize that says nothing about maintenance, etc, but it sounds its designed to run fairly hands off, so if it's really 25 million that's a quarter of what your estimate is for it being practical.

This article here reconfirms that number:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/nov/09/miniature-nuclear-reactors-los-alamos

Quote:
The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. 'Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a kilowatt hour anywhere in the world,' said John Deal, chief executive of Hyperion. 'They will cost approximately $25m [16m] each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $2,500 per home.'
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brian-hansen
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 712
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This appears to be quite different. It is for 10,000 homes, not 20,000, and
they claim 7-10 years, not 5. They give no figures for operating expenses.

The original article said that these were not cost competitive except in
remote applications, and this article echoed that by its list of orders.
However, considering low distribution costs (using the power locally)
$0.10 / kwh would be pretty competitive, especially if you factor in
rising electricity costs over the course of the next few years, and the
benefit of constant supply, so there's still some missing pieces to the
puzzle of figuring out the economics of this technology.
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jabailo



Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a good point about distribution. Less loss through lines...also less infrastructure to maintain.

My main disappointment with Hyperion though is that its still a traditional nuke in the sense that it's thermal. It heats water to send to a steam turbine, yet they use the term "nuclear battery" which in this case is a misnomer.

Nuclear batteries turn radiation directly into electricity in a fashion similar to solar cells.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13545-nanomaterial-turns-radiation-directly-into-electricity.html

Quote:
Materials that directly convert radiation into electricity could produce a new era of spacecraft and even Earth-based vehicles powered by high-powered nuclear batteries, say US researchers.


So an ideal "battery" would be something the size of Hyperion -- or smaller, but which produces electricity without further conversion.
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