Feeds

MIT boffins moot tsunami-proof floating nuke power plants

What could go wrong with that?

The Power of One Infographic

Boffins at MIT have mooted a new concept for nuclear power plants which would see the entire facility towed several miles out to sea and moored in a similar way to offshore oil and gas platforms.

The proposals would see nuke power plants built in shipyards and then moored or anchored a few miles off the coast, linked to the electric grid with a "transmission line".

In the video below explaining the concept , associate professor of nuclear science and engineering (NSE) Jacopo Buongiorno, said the design would “revolutionise” the industry in terms both of economics and safety.

The safety benefits include the fact that the plant could use the ocean as an “infinite heat sink” in the event of Fukushima-style problems to avoid a meltdown, he said.

“The decay heat, which is generated by the nuclear fuel even after the reactor is shutdown, can be removed indefinitely,” explained Buongiorno.

Secondly, tsunamis and earthquakes would no longer be a “source of risk” as they were in north-east Japan in 2011 because “essentially the ocean shields the seismic waves, and the tsunami waves in relatively deep water … are not that big”, he argues.

Finally, if the floating nuclear plant did encounter problems its location would ensure that no nearby residents would need to be evacuated from their homes. Any radioactive gases released could also be “vented” underwater to further reduce risk, he claimed.

Japanese officials last year admitted that some of the 160,000 evacuees displaced by the Fukushima nuclear disaster may never be allowed to return home because of high radiation levels.

Buongiorno said that MIT is currently working with other universities and industry to develop the concept.

He referenced the fact that Russia is currently developing a floating nuclear power plant of its own but said it was not designed to be moored miles offshore.

There's also a floating nuclear plant in the US, although the MH-1A reactor was formally deactivated in 1978.

This week it was announced that the Sturgis, the vessel it sits on, will be towed to Galveston, Texas, where the dismantling and decommissioning will begin in earnest.

Buongiorno says offshore platforms used for oil and gas exploration and extraction are a good technology platform for floating reactors. That offshore rigs sink from time time to time isn't discussed. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.