Frequently Asked Questions
6) I don't care about climate change, so why should I support a dangerous energy just because it's "clean"?
7) What about plans for 100% renewable energy grids that claim to be viable without a base load like nuclear?
9) What about all the nuclear waste? You say it's safe but radioactive waste will be dangerous for centuries.
15) Have you considered the corrosive effect salt water has; from the sea or ocean a submarine nuclear plant would be in?
17) What kind of recovery and clean up will be done if a submarine nuclear power plant is damaged at sea and unable to return? How will you ensure the safety of local and global populations?
20) Why modify the existing electrical grid and transportation networks just to use nuclear power for cars?
21) Is it reasonable for a nuclear power plant to constantly generate hydrogen, through hydrolysis, rather than follow demand changes? Doesn't this mean that it will be constantly running at a high capacity?
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It's been decades since the last nuclear facility was built in the U.S. and yet it still accounts for a major part of clean energy in the nation. Many facilities represent capacity that can't be replaced, despite their age, causing them to remain in operation longer than they were ever meant to.
Aside from local pollution, like that in China, caused by intense growth of fossil fuel energy; major fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) will not last long on a global scale. With reasonable growth in developing nations (far below per capita energy use of the U.S.), known global stockpiles could run out in as little as
The possibility of a nation wide renewable energy grid, which doesn't need to purchase power from other nations (and as such, wouldn't put the cost of the nation's base load power on them), is promising. Mark Jacobson of Stanford University proposes
Some of the reactor designs looked at in the
Along with centralized production and maintenance, is central storage (facilities either at or near maintenance dry docks).
Being near a nearly inexhaustible supply of water can provide as many opportunities as it does risks. Excess energy from low load parts of the day (or night) can be used for processes like desalination and hydrolysis. In addition, there is potential in using this water for cooling -- either as a baseline (as MIT's floating nuclear power plant proposes) or in emergency conditions (particular danger of using salt water would have to be considered). These power stations are also inherently more safe from accidental collision, natural disasters, and terrorist attack.
Yes. The U.S. navy has achieved over
These instances were tragedies, and nothing will change that. The number of people who die each year due to air pollution resulting from carbon intense energy is also a tragedy. In the article a number of newer reactor designs are investigated as ways to avoid ever seeing the first kind of tragedy again.
These reactors would never be anchored permanently. The Submarine Nuclear Power plants would lie on the ocean floor (attached to a small anchor, landing pad, or power dock built for interchangeable grid integration) for a few months at a time. Remaining mobile will be essential for keeping the facility and crew safe in the event of major natural (or unnatural) disasters. Mobility also means that crews aren't trapped in the facility for longer than would be healthy; and that the SNP can be maintained in facilities designed for complete safety.
Before it can become useful, or even safe, being surrounded in sea water poses the risk of salt corrosion--and it is something that we want to look into more. The materials used in a reactor already need to take into account embrittlement, and damage caused from normal operation. Incorporating salt and other minerals into the mix would logically add to the risk of materials damage. Some reactors use what is called
The submarine nuclear power plant would be designed, as a naval nuclear submarine is, with multiple layers isolating the reactor and it's fuel from the crew and ultimately the open waters. Specific measures need to be investigated, but the principle is to follow naval supervision or to create systems and protocols comparable to those referred to in accessible information on nuclear powered warship safety.
While clean up and recovery should be handled with the utmost care and expediency, the proposal does not yet have a clearly defined clean up procedure. Some considerations that will be made include safe timelines given different scenarios, measures the crew can take for its own safety and for preventing leaks, and so on.
As much as we need to reduce carbon emissions in power station generation, transportation is an even more pressing matter. With sufficient clean energy, it's possible to build electrified highways that overcome the perpetual range limits of purely electric cars. Electrified highways can also make self-driven cars even safer and easier to develop.
Considering the time scale that these nuclear power plants would operate under, itís important to consider that some functioning submarine nuclear power plants could be unneeded for conventional grid power. Some ways to make use of this excess energy when demand is low are hydrogen generation (electrolysis), water distillation, and with modifications to some roadways, highway electrification (which would recharge electric cars while driving).
The intention of Smart Highway Electrification is to eliminate the last, most troubling forms of pollution. It's not just the greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels, but the range limitations and pollution risk that batteries pose for electric cars. Eventually, these problems need to be resolved and electrified highways could offer an elegant solution.
One of the possibilities we want to investigate more is the use of hydrolysis as a means for nuclear power plants to always make use of its generating capacity, especially since nuclear is slow to increase or decrease generation. But this isn't something that we have thoroughly researched yet. We try to make a clear distinction between researched and less certain content.