Feeds

MIT promises safer, more efficient nuclear plants

Tubular hells

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Researchers at MIT have developed technology they say will boost the power output of nuclear power plants by 50 per cent, and make them safer to run.

The technology applies to pressurised water reactors. In these, water is used as a coolant, and is kept under pressure to prevent it from boiling. The uranium is also used to heat water, stored separately from the coolant system, generating steam which in turn is used to generate electricity.

By modifying the shape of the uranium pellets used to fuel the plants, the researchers say they can lower the operating temperature of the plant, and increase heat transfer, Reuters reports.

On the face of it the technique seems very simple, although as it took three years to develop, it's probably actually quite complicated.

Normal uranium dioxide fuel is made into solid cylindrical pellets. The MIT researchers' technique works instead with hollow tubes of the fuel. This increases the surface area of the uranium exposed to the water, improving heat transfer.

It also means the plant can run at 700°C, less than half the standard operating temperature of 1,800°C, and much lower than the melting point of uranium (2,840°C).

Pavel Hejzlar, a principle research scientist in MIT's Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, and his colleague Mujid Kazimi worked on the project for three years, in conjunction with the US department of energy.

Hejzlar says there was no time to patent the concept before he published his first paper on the work, and notes that it could take up to 10 years to commercialise the project. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.