#AceNewsServices – UNITED STATES – April 19 – A group of American engineers proposed bringing nuclear power generating facilities out to sea, to secure them from earthquakes and tsunamis, and prevent a possible meltdown threat by submerging a reactor’s active zone.
A report by American scientists to be presented at the Small Modular Reactors Symposium, hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, suggests that a nuclear power plant could be built in a form of standardized floating offshore platforms similar to modern drilling oil rigs and anchored about 10km out into the ocean. Electric power would be transferred to land by underwater cables.
Jacopo Buongiorno, associate professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who led the research, believes the project has a number of crucial advantages.
The main peculiarity of the new project is that a reactor is put into the underwater part of the facility, where it would be securely cooled by seawater in case of an emergency.
“The ocean itself can be used as an infinite heat sink. The decay heat, which is generated by the nuclear fuel even after the reactor is shut-down, can be removed indefinitely,” Buongiorno said, adding that “The reactor containment itself is essentially underwater.”
Such NPP would be safe from earthquakes and also from tsunamis inflicted by aftershocks. Back in 2011, a combination of these two devastated the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, which led to breakdown of the reactors’ cooling systems and eventually ended with meltdown of two reactors’ active cores. Radioactive fallout from that catastrophe is set to contaminate the Pacific Ocean for many years to come.
Positioning the plant should also be a simple process: just tow the station to wherever it is needed and moor it to the sea-floor. No need to look for a seismically safe place with plenty of water, a sea or lake, nearby as with traditional nuclear power plants.
“The ocean is inexpensive real estate,” Buongiorno said.