Take a Look Inside a Tiny Nuclear Reactor

This year Westinghouse will begin fuel tests for its Small Modular Reactor (SMR), a downsized system that puts out 225 megawatts.


On the tail of getting the go-ahead from the federal government to build the first new nuclear reactors in the U.S. in over 30 years, Westinghouse is aiming small. This year the company will start fuel tests for its Small Modular Reactor (SMR) in Columbia, S.C. With an output of 225 megawatts, the SMR is considerably smaller than traditional reactors and can be built in pieces and assembled on-site. All the critical parts fit within the 89-foot-high containment vessel, unlike full-size reactors, which can reach upward of 250 feet. The safety mechanisms differ too: Instead of relying on electromagnetically triggered control rods in a meltdown, the SMR uses natural convection and condensation—which don’t depend on electricity to work—to cool down. Plus, the SMR sits underground to minimize damage if radiation is released. Westinghouse must still get approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which the company hopes for in 2014.

via Popular Mechanics

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