The nuclear industry is now dominated by giant electricity-generating power plants, but many of tomorrow’s nuclear reactors will be small.
BOISE – The nuclear industry is now dominated by giant electricity-generating power plants, but many of tomorrow’s nuclear reactors will be small-some as Lilliputian as a refrigerator. They will power entire towns or even individual ships. Daniel T. Ingersoll, a senior program manager who studies small modular reactors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, predicts rapid growth for these mini-nukes-and big investment opportunities. “Global demand could reach 500 to 1,000 reactors by 2040,” he says.
The potential of small nuclear plants has caught the attention of everyone from Bill Gates to giant Babcock & Wilcox. But perhaps the furthest along is Hyperion, a company spun out of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Hyperion is now working with Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc and the China National Nuclear Corporation to turn Hyperion’s innovative design into a tangible product that could be on the market by the end of 2011. “If we can pull it off, we will be the first to manufacture and sell a mini-reactor,” says Don Gillispie, CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings and a 45-year veteran of the nuclear industry.
Gillispie is now in China negotiating an agreement with the CNNC and its subsidiaries to assess and construct the Hyperion design-following up on an existing MOU with the Chinese.
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Photo: Hyperion Power Generation Inc.