Feeds

MIT promises safer, more efficient nuclear plants

Tubular hells

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
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?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.