The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves the design of the first small modular nuclear reactor for use in the US, reports Vice. It is only the seventh reactor design approved for use in the country, and the first of a new generation that promises to make nuclear power more widespread.
Traditional nuclear reactors are an incredible source of clean energy, but they are also expensive and take years to build. Recent attempts to build nuclear reactors in the US have not been successful. Small modular reactors (SRMs) can be built faster, cheaper, and take up much less space than the giant plants typically associated with nuclear power.
Smaller reactors produce less energy, but can be quickly manufactured in a custom factory. As the community’s energy needs grow, more reactors can be added. On paper, they are also more secure and have far fewer points of failure than traditional ones.
Dozens of companies have been working on the technology, but Oregon-based NuScale was the first to receive approval from Washington. The company was founded in 2000 with money and research from the Department of Energy. It previously cleared a major regulatory hurdle in 2020.
“We are thrilled to announce the historic rulemaking from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for NuScale’s small modular reactor design, and we thank the Department of Energy (DOE) for their support throughout this process,” NuScale President and CEO John Hopkins said in a statement.
Nuclear power is an emissions-free form of electricity generation that is generally more efficient than renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. The Chornobyl disaster in 1986 and several accidents in the 1970s and 1980s made the public wary of the technology. Small modular reactors, if proven to be as safe and cheap as advertised, could be a breakthrough in carbon-free electricity generation.
We will remind that Ukraine and the USA have already agreed on the implementation of a pilot project, which should demonstrate the production of pure hydrogen and ammonia using small modular nuclear reactors.