Radiant’s microreactor can be deployed anywhere and used by both the military and civilians – a new era in energy. One of the most interesting trends in the energy sector lately has been micro-reactors or nuclear batteries (NB). Microreactors reflect a completely new approach, as the tendency so far has been to build huge and expensive power plants capable of generating a lot of energy, and then deliver it to the consumer. The next stage is modular reactors, which can be built more quickly from prefabricated components but deliver slightly less energy than conventional reactors.
After modular reactors come microreactors, which take the idea of factory production and modularity to the extreme. A microreactor delivers ~10 megawatts of energy (compared to 100-300 megawatts for modular power plants), but is so small that it can be produced in a factory and fit into an average container. And installation does not require lengthy construction: a single NB can be installed in weeks.
And now we are close enough to making such a reactor a reality,” reads the press release. The microreactor is being developed by Radiant, a company set up specifically for this purpose, and not only have they managed to secure $1.2 million in investment, but they have also had two provisional patents accepted: one of these allows for faster reactor refuelling, while reducing costs, and the other allows for more efficient heat removal from the reactor core. The company’s founder, Doug Bernauer, was formerly an engineer at SpaceX, where he worked on developing a power source for the Mars colonies. Bernauer saw the greatest potential in the microreactor, but also realised that it could be a great need on Earth.
Even though nuclear energy is under attack, there are still areas of the world where renewables are not an option because of the environment and where fossil fuels have provided the energy needed. In these places, a zero-emission microreactor can be a great help, without the need to worry about continuous recharging. Moreover, in the case of the military, the transport of fuel for generators is a logistical exercise that is highly risky.
In comparison, the microreactor needs to be refuelled at the earliest every 4 years, which is still a simple process, provides clean energy and works even where there is no wind and no sunshine, and even underground. Even for microreactors, Radiant’s reactor is on the lower end of the scale in terms of power output, at just 1 megawatt, which is enough to power 1,000 homes for 8 years. Several microreactors together can power an entire city or military base. As mentioned above, the issue of transportability and deployability is in contrast to less power, and Radiant’s microreactor meets this requirement: it fits in a single container and can be easily transported by any route (water, air, land). Thanks to the advanced fuel used by Radiant, the reactor will not melt down, and this fuel can withstand temperatures higher than those used in conventional reactors. The helium used for cooling also reduces the risk of corrosion and boiling.
And the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) has already announced that it will start testing the microreactor in collaboration with Radiants.