×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Toshiba Builds Ultra-Small Nuclear Reactor

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the a-reactor-in-every-home dept.

Power 683

DeusExCalamus writes "Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

683 comments

A slogan (5, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763304)

Have a fallout, closer to home. Toshiba Micro Nuclear.

Sony (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763386)

Have a fallout, closer to home. Toshiba Micro Nuclear.
Hopefully Sony doesn't get into this business. If you thought exploding laptop batteries were bad, wait until you get a Sony exploding nuclear reactor.

Re:Sony (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763606)

Now, now, I'm sure they replace it without a hassle. It's all in your warranty.

No, why should they be liable for the collateral damage? You get a new reactor, dammit, greedy bastards those customers...

Re:Sony (5, Funny)

Poltras (680608) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763730)

No, why should they be liable for the collateral damage? You get a new reactor, dammit, greedy bastards those customers...
That's Mr. Mutant Customer to you, sir.

Re:Sony (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763682)

Hopefully Sony doesn't get into this business. If you thought exploding laptop batteries were bad, wait until you get a Sony exploding nuclear reactor
Too late. In related news, Sony [sony.com] has stepped up to the plate with it's own ultra-small nuclear reactor, tentatively called the Sony ChernobylMan(tm).

In more Sony-related news, a large explosion accompanied by unusually high levels of radiation were reported near a Sony testing facility outside of Tokyo on Tuesday. No word yet on casualties.

A sign on the street (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763396)

"Do not park by the shaft hatch, uranium delivery expected!"

Re:A slogan (3, Insightful)

randuev (1032770) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763434)

there's no cleaner way to generate electricity than nuclear. shame that brainwashing of oil pushing pimps have been so successful.

Re:A slogan (5, Insightful)

cozziewozzie (344246) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763508)

There are many cleaner ways to generate electricity than nuclear. Hydro, geothermal, tidal and wave, wind and solar energy are all cleaner.

Re:A slogan (5, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763598)

Sure, but there are plenty of areas where none of the above apply. I live in an area where that is not near any water, has only intermittent sun and wind so another power source is necessary. Geothermal looks great on paper but AFAIK there are still tech barriers involved. Nuke power is certainly better to coal or oil/gas. Coal spews more heavy metals and radioactive material into the atmosphere than nukes ever did. With fossil fuels the mess gets spread all over the planet, with nukes it all stays in one place.
If you took all the toxins, etc., from coal and condensed them on one place, the greens would have a fit no matter where you tried to bury it.

Besides, did you turn YOUR air conditioner off last summer?

Anyway, this will never fly in the US - I can guarantee that the big utilities will lobby congress and FUD it to death.

Where we live ... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763726)

>I live in an area where that is not near any water, has only intermittent sun and wind so another power source is necessary. One question: why? Everyone will need to think harder about the cost effectiveness of their living situation in the future. Google is thinking about this now, and setting up data centers near large sources of hydro power. I suppose you could grow trees and burn them, like my parents did in the 1970s when heating oil got expensive. Not environmentally friendly because you still get CO2 out. There are very efficient stoves that burn corn products now.

Re:A slogan (2, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763608)

but are inconsistent and require large land area's worth of stuff, to generate the same mount of power as just one of those little nuclear reactors.

Wind doesn't always blow, tides come and go, Hydro requires large damns, Solar requires land area in the square mile range, geothermal is limited to areas which have large geothermal activity(iceland, yellowstone).

Though personally Solar has the best bet for the future. just two technologies need to be perfected. Crank up solar cell effeciency to 30-40%, and ultra Capacitors. Then Each home built could be designed with a roof for solar power. The cells recharge the ultracapacitors, and the excess goes out the line.

You literally build a solar farm from the very homes that need the power. One would still need nuclear, for the primary source, but you would need a lot less of it, and could turn off the coal plants.

Re:A slogan (1)

Ulven (679148) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763632)

The point of the OP was that there are alternatives that are greener. Maybe less practical, but greener nonetheless.

And just to be picky, the whole point of tidal power is that tides come and go. The more they come and go, the better!

Are you kidding? (5, Insightful)

professorguy (1108737) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763802)

Why don't you come out to my house and install your solar panels on my roof? I'm sure it will be no problem that they are under a few feet of snow for 4 months a year. Or that we get 50 sunny days (on average) a year, half of which are when we have snow. Or that at 44 degrees north, even at the solstice at high noon we have low wattage/area.

Gee, I guess I'll be selling all my extra power to the grid.

I love it when someone from Arizona tells me that solar power is going to solve all my power problems here in northern New Hampshire.

Re:A slogan (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763648)

Sure. You run your PC from Hydro, geothermal, tidal and wave, wind or solar, and see what sort of uptime you get.

Re:A slogan (1)

duggi (1114563) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763700)

There are many cleaner ways to generate electricity than nuclear.
I wonder what research is going on into these other ways. Is it "green" hype that is causing articles like these to emerge? I think we need better and practical "green" solutions(like that boat with a sail thing a few days ago). Or else, there is bound to be a demand for such mini generators. If it is cheap, and properly maintained, the reactor will be up and running, (I can clearly see a power hungry nation like China or India setting up slightly bigger versions under Govt. control). History has shown us that we give much priority to our present comforts than environment.
If any organization is interested in doing something for the world, They better innovate. Till then, people who don't care to put it on themselves to start a change(like me) are going to be pleased with what they get.

Re:A slogan (5, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763804)

There are many cleaner ways to generate electricity than nuclear. Hydro, geothermal, tidal and wave, wind and solar energy are all cleaner.

Depends how you define "clean" - hydro power is usually environmentally quite damaging. Tidal power can also be quite damaging if done inappropriately (I'll point at the proposed Severn Tidal Barrage as an example of how do do a lot of damage to the environment through harnessing the tides). Thermal solar based systems are probably pretty clean, but photovoltaic systems use quite a lot of rather nasty chemicals in their manufacture which must be handled carefully (kind of like fission products in fact...)

Re:A slogan (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763558)

There's also no more sure-fire way to increase the power of the police and military. Well, except a terrorism scare.

Moores law of nuclear physics. (1)

Deadfyre_Deadsoul (1193759) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763488)

Im here patiently waiting for the stereo sized one that can secretly power my house so I can tell Ameren CIPs and there vastly monopolized pricing to kiss off.

Re:Moores law of nuclear physics. (0, Flamebait)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763536)

Wait till you try to buy uranium to fuel it, and you get labelled a "terrorist threat seeking to buy yellowcake", and then they shock and awe your block with the 101'st airbor... no wait, they're still "freeing Iraq", guess they'll schock and awe you with the SWAT team.

Re:A slogan (1)

cozziewozzie (344246) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763526)

Good luck purchasing the enriched uranium needed to run your private building block reactor.

Or operating the thing yourself.

It's an interesting technology, but the chances of having one of these for your apartment are not very good.

Re:A slogan (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763772)

This is so cool.

The monopoly Power Company in Jamaica has very low capacity now with no spare capacity at all. (I.e. Every time a plant goes down so dose a portion of the grid).

That Power company (JPS) was sold to a Japanese Company (Mirobeny[SP?]) a few months ago.

This puts the odds of Jamaica getting one of these early at around 2:1

Someone should have told the students (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763306)

Someone should have told these [computerworld.com.au] students that they could get one of these and not have to peddle.

Incredible. (5, Funny)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763310)

How did they manage to shrink a nuclear reactor to only two dimensions?

Re:Incredible. (5, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763412)

20 feet high, 6 feet in diameter.

Oh, and this is old. I believe it was around 3 years ago that I first heard of this. They were talking about installing one in a remote village up in Alaska that gets all it's power from diesel because it'd be too expensive to connect it to the grid it's so far away.

Then the greenies* heard about it and killed it. The villagers were pretty much all for it.

*Can't really call them NIMBY, unless they count the entire planet their backyard in this case.

Re:Incredible. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763620)

About 30 years ago, I'd have cracked the joke that probably they sent it to Japan. They build everything smaller and more efficient and I'm sure they can even reduce it by a dimension.

Today, I guess that joke would have to be made about China. With the exception that you somehow have to add a crack about lead paint.

Re:Incredible. (1)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763780)

They must have used one very large anvil, and then followed up with a few pianos on top of that.

Yup (4, Insightful)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763330)

I'm sure the US government would have no problem with people buying these, no problem at all.

Re:Yup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763752)

Speaking for the 95% of people in the world who are not subjects of the US Govt., I'd like to announce that I couldn't give a shit what the US Govt. thinks about this or any other technology.

The USA might be able to force whipped states like Japan to not adopt this kind of tech. Good luck telling China the same. It's only a matter of time.

Eh... (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763340)

...and how how many security guards to keep the terrorists away?

Re:Eh... (2, Insightful)

gambolt (1146363) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763552)

I don't buy it.

There are two possible explanations for why middle eastern nations might want nuclear technology. One is that they want to blow us up. The other is that there are vast areas of their counties that don't have electricity. We accuse them of wanting to destroy the planet and we're the ones who ordered 300 new coal plants this year, knowing that industrial coal is the single largest contributer to greenhouse emissions. We should be helping Iran build nuclear power plants, not encouraging them to keep burning oil for power when peak oil and global warming are looming in the future.

Re:Eh... (1, Interesting)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763698)

This is blatant trolling and yet is moderated 4, interesting. If you believe the crap around about greenhouse emissions (apparently they are bad), you might also remember the eco-warrior campaigns against Nuclear Power (apparently that is also bad). Only now of course nuclear power is considered good, coal bad. Even then they aren't satisfied. If you say you are going to put up 1,000 windmills then the bird tweeters and BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) brigade will be up in arms. What about the environmental effects of hydro projects? The eco-loonies will be there too. So it goes.

Re:Eh... (1)

cs02rm0 (654673) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763704)

We should be helping Iran build nuclear power plants, not encouraging them to keep burning oil for power when peak oil and global warming are looming in the future.

It's almost as though it could be of benefit to the US when peak oil occurs if they can stop any other countries developing nuclear power because they'll own the majority of the reliable supply.

Re:Eh... (3, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763708)

I broadly agree with your sentiment, if the Iranians' wish for civilian nuclear power was genuine. But the UN has already offered to supply them with all the fuel they need for their reactors, as long as they shut down their enrichment program. Iran has so far refused to accept this offer, and enrichment is the only important technology that nuclear power has in common with nuclear weapons. So it's unclear what their true intentions are.

Re:Eh... (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763774)

Only Iran is not going to be in enrichment now, that Russia agreed to supply the nuclear fuel to them. It should have been the US, at least then they could have monitored the usage.

Re:Eh... (2, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763748)

Option number 3 :

They've run out of oil and don't want to collapse entirely. Despite all their high towering, and despite their supposed "faith" they know very well their economies will collapse in months if the oil runs out.

Which is going to happen in no more than 15 years (probably less). (and their incomes from oil will drop exponentially during this period). They need fuel. 60 years worth of fuel and they need it in storage containers now. And they need money. Thousands of times more money than they have.

Re:Eh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763776)

Do you think Iran would accept the kind offer of nuclear power plants?

Good thing I am not a kid anymore (1, Funny)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763344)

Growing up I always loved to take things apart. Everything... My Toys, my parent's stuff like the Kaypro we had, and the Apple II... After I saw this over at engadget earlier and now here, I must say I am glad I am not a kid anymore. I would have taken this sucker apart if we had one and probably set myself on a course to be my own nightlight. Although I do like the cost associated with these things, I always like lower electric bills. However, I fear the kid that wants to see how it works or the hick who decides to take it apart cause they "can fix anything!"

Re:Good thing I am not a kid anymore (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763532)

Yes, because the people that design these things are morons and make them easily openable with tools that a kid can find laying around the house or garage. And what makes you think it would be in an accessible place, for starters? FFS, why do people always assume everything is either designed or run by complete idiots?

Perfect for a Fire Sale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763346)

This is perfect if Die Hard 4 happens in RL. If it does, can we please not shove the hot Asian chick down the elevator shaft?

WTF? (1)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763352)

From TFA

Toshiba expects to install the first reactor in Japan in 2008 and to begin marketing the new system in Europe and America in 2009.

Now THAT should get interesting

Re:WTF? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763418)

Yeah my problem with this concept is what percentage of the world doesn't have to potential for SOME kind of natural disaster? Japan has earthquakes and typhoons, most of the world has at least some chance of tornado's, etc. Unless these thing are designed to take 300mph hits by large object and a large building falling on them I can't see how regulators can possibly allow them to be sold.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763498)

Simple solution, bury the thing underground.

Re:WTF? (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763644)

If you bury the thing any soil movements will exert enormous forces on its outer shell and it would probably crack. The thing would be safer on the surface where the only nasty thing that can happen on a earthquake is something heavy falling on it.

Re:WTF? (1)

link-error (143838) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763738)


    Yeah, thats why the basement of my old house in Chicago was crumbling in all around me. Those soil movements may be the end to civilization.

Re:WTF? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763600)

Even to transport the waste you need cannisters that can survice things like high speed collissions with trains and similar impacts.
Oh and good luck getting planning permission to build one of these suckers.. there's a reason they're all situated miles from populations - it's not just what would happen if they went boom (the tiny distances involved wouldn't save you anyway) it's the fact that nobody wants one around them.

Re:WTF? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763570)

"Marketing" isn't the same as "installing".

That said, there are good reasons why such systems would be easier to license than a full sized reactor. For one thing, they can be leased, and when they're at the end of their useful lifespan the company takes them back. It doesn't solve the nuclear waste problem, but it at least identifies who is responsible for clean up (although I'd make them post a bond to make sure disposal/recycling is paid for).

In any case, I don't think we'll see every apartment block with a nuke -- at least not at first. It's more likely that large industrial/commercial power users will be interested in this as a way of locking in energy prices in a known range, and possibly to ensure consistent power supplies.

I can imagine this as an attractive option for providing ultra-reliable, predictably priced power for data centers. It's a particularly nice match for the "data center in a shipping container" idea. Find a remote site, run some fiber to it, set up an air conditioned warehouse, and order as many data center and nuke modules as you need.

Lifetime cost (2, Interesting)

tomalpha (746163) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763356)

40 years x 365 days x 24 hours x 200kW x $0.05 = $3.5bn

Ok, so I guess it wouldn't run at full capacity all of the time, but even if you half it, or quarter it, it's still a big number.

Slightly more silly: if you were to use the MIT students from the previous article [slashdot.org] and you assumed they worked 24 hours a day to produce 200kW, and you paid them $10 an hour you'd need 1600 of them and it would cost $5.8bn over the same time period.

I guess that's why we have nuclear power.

Re:Lifetime cost (4, Informative)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763500)

40 years x 365 days x 24 hours x 200kW x $0.05 = $3.5bn

I think you're off by a factor of 1000. I get $3.5 million. That's far more practical. You're numbers come out to $50/kWh.

Re:Lifetime cost (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763520)

> 40 years x 365 days x 24 hours x 200kW x $0.05 = $3.5bn

No, $3.5m , but whats 3 orders of magnitude between friends?
$3.5mil spread over 40 years equals a lot less up front .. is there an accountant in the room?
I'll believe it when I see it.

You were right on the billions for cyclists though. If a cyclist produces 200W at 5c/kWHr,
thats 1 cent per hour, not $10.
Hamsters are cheaper, but don't scale well - best stick to draught horses.

Re:Lifetime cost (1)

tomalpha (746163) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763592)

Ack, I never was good at maths - that does seem a lot more reasonable. I probably shouldn't be allowed to buy one of these things, otherwise I'll end up wiring it up wrongly to a hairdryer.

Re:Lifetime cost (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763590)

Huh, I only come up with 3.5 million.

I thought your figure looked wrong because a full scale gigawatt nuclear reactor would be expected to cost around the same amount during that time, depending on figures ($1B-3B in construction, some for more for overhead).

I think you multiplied by 200,000 instead of 200. Remember it's .05 per kilowatt hour. This nuclear plant produces 200 kilowatts, so it cancels out.

It's about double the cost of a conventional nuclear plant, but as noted, it's extremely small scale, so you can potentially save transmission costs.

To potentially put the size of this thing more in scale, a good, but standard, electric water heater can use 6.7 kilowatts while operating. A standard incoming panel size is 200 amps@240V, equaling a maximum of 48 kilowatts of draw. So 5 houses would theoretically be able to bust this thing's breakers. Figure a more reasonable maximum draw of 12 kilowatts(50 amps), that's 17 homes.

Like most nuclear reactors, it's best for base load, in that capacity it should power ~100 energy efficient homes and businesses that remember to shut their lights and such off when they leave*. Say their electric bills are $1k each over the course of a year, that's 100k per year, or 4 million over the course of the life of this reactor. For peak demand, go back to more traditional sources like NG turbines or even diesel generators.

*And use something other than electricity for heat.

Re:Lifetime cost (2, Interesting)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763630)

There's the waste disposal cost and the decommissioning cost to add to that as well. Nuclear waste is hellishly expensive to transport and dispose of... offseting the gains you get from the cheaper power generation. Decomissioning can eat up more money than building the thing in the first place.

This is heavy, Doc. (2, Funny)

DJ Katty (1195877) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763364)

I'll wait for the eventual smaller form factor in a year though. Gives me time to save for a Delorian. Those flux capacitors [shopneo.co.uk] don't seem so extraneous right now.

Re:This is heavy, Doc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763426)

"I'm sure in 1985 plutonium is available at every corner drugstore, but in 1955 it's a little hard to come by."

Liquid Li? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763366)

Am I the only one that gets nervous at the idea of liquid lithium/sodium?

Re:Liquid Li? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763420)

I can't wait for the lithium to leak into groundwater... no more bipolar disordered people!

What's on the inside? (2, Funny)

rhyre417 (919946) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763642)

If you take it apart, does that void the warranty? As usual, I'll wait until I can read the reviews on amazon.com Someone needs to tell me if it comes with a cheap plastic housing.

Fuel (2, Interesting)

ChowRiit (939581) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763394)

How are they planning on fuelling these reactors? I somewhat doubt, with current paranoia about terrorist "dirty bombs", that they'll be willing to use uranium, which seems to me to somewhat defeat the point of a nuclear reactor...

Re:Fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763496)

A hyperlink, is a reference or navigation element in a document to another section of the same document or to another document that may be on a (different) website.

Now that you know what a hyperlink is, you can put your new knowledge to work and RTFA.

Re:Fuel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763534)

TFA says it'll use lithium-6.

Re:Fuel (3, Informative)

Total_Wimp (564548) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763628)

"TFA says it'll use lithium-6."

I don't think that's what it said. I think it said the lithium was a replacement for control rods to absorb neutrons and keep the nuclear reaction under control. I don't think the article specified the fuel at all.

Now I am not a nuclear reactor engineer nor a physicist, so if you know more about how this works it would be great to get a better explanation than the one the very short article gave.

BTW, never trust anyone who says "nothing can go wrong with it." Something can always go wrong. If they say "these are the risks, but we've assessed them and their mitigating factors and we ultimately believe the ristks aren't big enough to cause concern," you can start paying attention again.

Re:Fuel (4, Informative)

AtomicJake (795218) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763712)

TFA says it'll use lithium-6

But Lithium-6 [wikipedia.org] is stable, i.e. not radioactive. It can be used to produce Tritium [wikipedia.org] by neutron activation, which in turn is used in thermonuclear weapons. But for Neutron activation [wikipedia.org] you need another radioactive source. So, what's this source? Or is Toshiba using a totally different process?

I doubt that these are properties of an export hit ...

Self contained (3, Insightful)

olman (127310) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763402)

I wonder if their cost/kWh figures includes Greenpeace terror campaign against nuclear anything..

ominous (4, Funny)

mincognito (839071) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763404)

The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors
I think that's the worry.

Cannot Find (4, Informative)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763416)

I heard about this yesterday, and searched the Toshiba's main website for a press release or anything. I found nothing beyond the article. If Toshiba are really doing this, i thought it would at least be a headliner on their website.

Anyone?? I'm wondering if this is even real.

my search here [google.com] (you may have to filter for medical results)

MOD PARENT INSIGHTFUL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763582)

Rumors for nerds?!

Super-safe,small and simple (1)

oddmake (715380) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763646)

The article's image seemed to be borrowed from <a href="http://www.toshiba.co.jp/nuclearenergy/jigyounaiyou/4s.htm">this page</a>.
<br>Although Toshiba 4S reactor is really small,not small enough to fit the described in Next Energy News.

My Apartment (1)

hey (83763) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763444)

Wow, now its not-in-my-backyard but not-in-the-basement-of-my-apartment.

It's about the lithium (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763446)

They seem to have been able to shrink the reactor because they use lithium. Just the other day there was an article on /. about scientists with a revolutionary new battery technology that would increase the capacity of batteries many fold. It used lithium. Lithium seems to be a bit of a hot item now and in the future.

Lithium isn't particularly rare, it is the 33rd most abundant element on the earth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium [wikipedia.org] On the other hand, I can't see it getting cheaper. I wonder if this is a good time to buy shares in companies that produce it?

Think Rutherford (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763460)

This is actually a spinoff of Rutherford's 'spinning proton' research. A simple concept that has far-reaching capabilities. [dwarfurl.com]

No more just in one size. (4, Interesting)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763464)

Lots of advocates for solar/wind/other renewables oppose using nuclear power to help against global warming because "They come in only one size: Extra large". This one pretty much mitigates that argument. Of course, Toshiba has done this before, with the Galena project [wikipedia.org]...looks like they are really pushing miniaturization of nukes.

Re:No more just in one size. (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763660)

No, they oppose it as they don't thing the risk/benefit equation stacks up. You might disagree.. but that's the crux of the argument, not 'if I had suitcase sized ones they'd be fine'.

I've *never* heard the size used as an argument.

I suspect the ones in nuclear submarines aren't that big either, compared to your average power plant.

Re:No more just in one size. (1)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763696)

A little google searching found one rather prominent global warming figure using the size argument: Al Gore [theage.com.au].

be wary (1)

wes33 (698200) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763476)

I'd be wary of any story from this source, what with all its links to "overunity" and "free energy" sources. Where's the corroboration from Toshiba?

Hasn't this idea been floated before? (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763480)

I seem to recall reading an article in Wired several years ago about pebble-bed reactors, and building them small enough that each town could have their own. Maybe even small enough that you could run one just for your house, or yourself and a few neighbors. I think someone wanted to pilot such a program in China.

How about nanoscale reactors? (1)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763486)

I always wondered whether a nanoscale reactor is possible - it's be great, too small and complex to be unloaded and the fuel spent elsewhere, but possible to generate quite a bit of power, especially if lots are coupled together.

IANANPh, but I'd guess there'd be problems with shielding as I don't think radiation scales very well, but I could be wrong... anyone know?

Thanks, but I'll settle for Solar Power and saving (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763494)

Would you have one of these in your cellar? I wouldn't. I'd rather tune down my power consumption by a magnitude and switch to solar energy or something. I don't think this will fly.

Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763554)

lol. I'd love to have one of these babies, personally. But then, I went to school for nuclear engineering...

Re:Thanks, but I'll settle for Solar Power and sav (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763594)

Would you have one of these in your cellar?

Have one myself? Not likely, but possible. Wanting my dumb-ass neighbors to have one? No way.

Re:Thanks, but I'll settle for Solar Power and sav (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763684)

You must be american. Letting unscientific fear rule your opinion.
It's actually quite safe. Here safe meaning in the same sense that cars are safe, even though their engines are in a near constant state of explosion.
We have come quite a far way since the days when nuclear reactions where unstable accidents waiting to happen.

It's funny that today, all you have to do to make something unpopular is put Atomic in front of it, and all you have to do to make it popular is to put nano in front of it.
Had they called this a nanoscaleparticleenergyconverter instead people would be flying off their chairs screaming "What a wonder!"

Move along, its just a local meltdown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763650)

"The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities."

That's probably putting it mildly. I can just see the US targeting communities around the world. "Give us your resources or we will bomb you into the stone age.", takes on a whole new meaning when the community has such a death multiplier like this sitting around. Perhaps they need some short of radar and laser attachment.

On the other hand any terrorist group with a small crane could load one of these babies on a flatbed (I assume the reason for the dimensions is the transportation restrictions on a prefab unit.) and away we goooooooooooo. (or is that gloooooooooow).

If I were toshebia I would be marketing it to chineese shipping companies. The world uses a whole not of energy shipping blowup snowmen and such to the US.

Moon or mars (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763662)

Something along this design could be used on the moon or mars. It would be nice to have guarenteed power there with 40 years lifespan. But it would be nice to see MW, rather than KWs.

A interesting thought (5, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763686)

The claimed cost of power is $0.05/kwh.

A gallon of gasoline has something around 35kwh. 35kwh from this thing would cost you $1.75. If you had a fleet of electric vehicles, you could continually charge batteries off this thing and swap them out.

A 200kw reactor would produce the equivalent of almost 140 gallons of gasoline per day. Effectively this is more energy, if your vehicles operate in the city, because you don't expend energy idling the engine. You could operate a fleet of electric cabs, locking in the equivalent of a $1.75/gallon energy cost for the next forty years.

The Japs like it small (-1, Flamebait)

CrackPipePls (1205568) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763732)

It's amazing what a nation known for it's people's small penis size can do to justify their tiny feature.

Everything from this country is small and automatic.

Shrink it further (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#21763792)

Shrink it further so I can have a micro nuclear reactor in my cellphone. This way if my phone bursts into flames I can have my own little Chernobyl incident.

Good to know (1)

shoptroll (544006) | more than 5 years ago | (#21763794)

Good to know we're one step closer to Mr. Fusion. Next step, flux capacitors and getting the DeLorean's back on the street.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...