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US Plans "Disposable" Nuclear Batteries

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the putting-energizer-out-of-business dept.

Power 297

holy_calamity writes "A US government program is in the works to design small nuclear reactors for use by developing countries. The work continues despite fears about security and nuclear proliferation. Plans include having reactors supplied with fuel by the US and other trusted nations, or to build reactors with their whole lifetime of fuel packaged securely inside — like a giant non-user replaceable radioactive battery.' '"

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Whatever you do . . . (5, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 6 years ago | (#22744996)

. . . don't stick the terminals to your tongue to see if there's still a charge.

Re:Whatever you do . . . (2, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745022)

like this [radford.edu] ?

Re:Whatever you do . . . (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745122)

That guys eyes are creepy!

Re:Whatever you do . . . (1, Insightful)

agnistus (1005227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745536)

Nuclear Energy is good for everyone. So let everyone use it as long as they don't make atom bombs and kill lots of innocent people.

Re:Whatever you do . . . (3, Funny)

Clanked (1156473) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745568)

Tell that to people in chernobyl.

Re:Whatever you do . . . (3, Informative)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745940)

The problem with Chernobyl wasn't nuclear power. It was the government who built the reactor. Research some of the new technology being worked on to make nuclear clean and safe and you'll change your tune. Start by googling "pebble bed".

Re:Whatever you do . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22746104)

That's what they get for being commies!

Re:Whatever you do . . . (1)

solitas (916005) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745878)

Another link on the same topic, with many links in itself: http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=660 [damninteresting.com]

I've got an old-old still-sealed 2oz. bottle of radium paint from my Grandfather - still glows pretty well. And yes, it's kept in an appropriately-shielded container.

Re:Whatever you do . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22746190)

No, like this [imdb.com]

Re:Whatever you do . . . (1)

cybereal (621599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745186)

I think the fact that someone modded this informative is more amusing than the original joke.

Re:Whatever you do . . . (1)

ohxten (1248800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745532)

Don't short it out with a paper-clip, either.

Proliferation? (5, Interesting)

TFer_Atvar (857303) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745018)

Why worry about proliferation? They're not going to be sending these things to Iran -- if they're ever built -- and any financially and technologically stable nation can already build nuclear weapons. There's over 100 research reactors operating around the world, hundreds more medical reactors, and all the power-generating ones as well. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Did you read the "developing countries" bit? (2, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745154)

With very few, if any, exceptions, developing countries are governed by corrupt or easily corrupted leaders. A chance to "lose" a reactor and gain a few $M is really hard to pass up. May as well just bypass the bullshit and put them on the open market.

Re:Did you read the "developing countries" bit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745286)

"With very few, if any, exceptions, developing countries are governed by corrupt or easily corrupted leaders." I think that statement needs a slight correction. Take "developing" out and it should be good to go.

Re:Proliferation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745160)

These smaller nuclear reactors require much greater enrichment ratios than large scale reactors to operate efficiently over their truncated lifetime. These smaller reactors open up proliferation risks on three fronts: size, enrichment, and location.

Re:Proliferation? (1)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745656)

And remember, as the instructions on the reactor on Turkana IV remind us, you can never have too much water in a nuclear reactor.

Re:Proliferation? (5, Informative)

Kelz (611260) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745178)

Reactor grade uranium is 3-4% Uranium-235 (the dangerous kind), and weapons grade uranium is 90% U-235. It takes an order of magnitude more equipment to reach even a crude weapon's level at 20% 235. It even says in the article that the uranium enrichment and processing won't be done on-site.

Re:Proliferation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745290)

Why oh why have you been modded offtopic. This is about the tenth bad moderation I've seen today. Have the trolls found a bug in the moderation system or what?

Re:Proliferation? (-1, Offtopic)

robertjw (728654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745358)

Actually, the last couple times I've had mod points I noticed that it's really easy to click the wrong selection in the drop down.

Once you click it, there's no way to take it back.

Re:Proliferation? (0, Offtopic)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745570)

Once you click it, there's no way to take it back.

Unless you post a reply. Though admittedly the last time I moderated I was using illicit wifi in a holiday unit in Adelaide and the connection died before I was able to reverse the incorrect mod. Sorry about that whoever it was.

I think using a touch pad makes using the moderation popup less reliable.

Re:Proliferation? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745300)

Why worry about proliferation? They're not going to be sending these things to Iran -- if they're ever built -- and any financially and technologically stable nation can already build nuclear weapons. There's over 100 research reactors operating around the world, hundreds more medical reactors, and all the power-generating ones as well. Sounds like a good plan to me.
Nuclear reactors of this size scale will have hundreds of thousands to millions of curies of activity left over when they decommission. In a day where we worry about a 5 or 10 Ci dirty bomb being able to be made, this would be intensely idiotic.

Re:Proliferation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745418)

Why worry about proliferation?
Even though the U.S. currently doesn't care too much about the United Nations, it has signed a Non-Proliferation Treaty which has the main goal of reducing the overall availability of nuclear weapons, not only for supposedly 'evil' nations like Iran.

Re:Proliferation? (2, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745866)

Why worry about proliferation?

It has been happening anyway and really is not related to devices like this. We don't have to worry about the Iranians wanting them either. Iran would also most likely be able to do something as good or better by this point since nuclear power research in the USA stalled long ago and is far behind the South African (pebble bed), Chinese and Russian technology that is available to the Iranians.

Local Compliance Enforcement (Re:Proliferation?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22746006)

So you don't think that this might've crossed the Pentagon's desk at which point someone stamped the request with the "approved with remote self destruct pre-requisite" stamp? Missile silo's with your allies seems so much harder than an armed warhead inside the enemy's walled city .. (There was a case study done, in Chernobyl I think)

It probably makes more sense than you think (2, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745042)

Having nuclear reactors with a lot of common parts opens up a lot of possibilities. Never mind hassling Iran for having nuclear power, train their guys to use Western reactors and if they start getting a bit too good, steal the talent.

Re:It probably makes more sense than you think (4, Insightful)

MouseR (3264) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745224)

The Candu reactor is a good export for Canada. AND it can use depleted uranium and other non-weapon-grade fuel.

Re:It probably makes more sense than you think (1)

MouseR (3264) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745278)

My link didn't work. My bad. here's Candu info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CANDU [wikipedia.org]

Re:It probably makes more sense than you think (1)

laxsu19 (1256044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745578)

AND its the worst possible reactor design type for proliferation concerns.... you can load and unload fuel without turning the reactor off. Which means you can take out spent fuel when it is at juuust the right plutonium enrichment, and noone would know.

btw, they cant use depleted uranium, i think you meant natural uranium (0.72% uranium-235)

Re:It probably makes more sense than you think (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745936)

Well if you can make a reactor that can use depleted uranium then you really have something.
Last time I read up on the Candu it used natural uranium not depleted.

Re:It probably makes more sense than you think (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745948)

Need a way to get plutonium for your developing militaristic nation? CANDU!

The things are very popular. Even Australia breifly considered buying one of them when it was flirting with the idea of a nuclear weapons program a bit over 30 years ago (cabinet papers released under the 30 year rule).

Good use of taxpayer money? (1)

tick_and_bash (1256006) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745044)

While this is in theory a great way to help other nations develop much more quickly and better the lives of their populace, why is it at times that it just seems like the US's own citizen are treated like third class citizens? (I'm so getting modded to hell for this one...)

Re:Good use of taxpayer money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745422)

Tis so refreshing to see the moderation system abused by rampant overrated mods.

Re:Good use of taxpayer money? (5, Informative)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745506)

You are just misinformed. USA foreign aid as a percentage of the GDI is the lowest of just about any developed country:

http://markc1.typepad.com/relentlesslyoptimistic/images/foreign_aid_chart1.GIF [typepad.com]

Most of that aid goes to (semi)developed countries like Colombia, Israel and Egypt for political reasons, or to Iraq and Afganistan (which we fucked up in the first place), instead of to the poorest countries in the world:

http://static.flickr.com/51/189662626_257b15004f_o.jpg [flickr.com]

Re:Good use of taxpayer money? (5, Insightful)

bxwatso (1059160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745802)

Let my split hairs here. The USA is by far the most generous nation regarding giving to the world's poor. The US Government donates less as a percent of its economy than does any other developed nation's government.

The US Government is not the USA.

FFS (4, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745060)

The work continues despite fears about security and nuclear proliferation.

Fer crying out loud. It's bad enough that we're running out of fossil fuels, but between the hardcore environmentalists and paranoid first world countries, we're not making much traction on the nuclear issue, which is a shame. Talk up your fave green project all you want, but all of us need to get on the nuclear power plant bandwagon sooner rather than later. cheap fusion's not going to be here for a while.

Re:FFS (3, Insightful)

abqaussie (1250734) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745298)

Or we could just focus on improving the efficiency of solar and wind power generation. And lowering the power consumption of the everyday devices we use. Oh but I forgot, reducing the amount of power we use doesn't make anyone money. So silly of me.

Re:FFS (5, Insightful)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745460)

The silly part of you is assuming that you could somehow make consumption reduction a priority over improving generation facilities. It's a simple issue - one requires the cooperation of everybody, while the other requires changes that can be made without that cooperation. There's a pragmatic decision to be made there.

Re:FFS (2, Informative)

abqaussie (1250734) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745782)

Actually neither the silly nor the unsilly part of me is assuming that reducing consumption should be a priority over improving generation. Re-read my post. First thing I said was we should improve generation facilities. I just specified two forms of generation that aren't nuclear. Improving efficiency and reducing consumption was the second point in my previous post. I'm not making some environmentalist, or hippie anti-materialist argument. Consumption is going to increase as population increases, and because people, in the US anyway, want more stuff. But that doesn't mean you can't dump research money into improving energy generation forms like solar and wind. The improving efficiency curve for generation on either of those hasn't hit the plateau yet, and we should keep pushing it.

Re:FFS (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745478)

Glad you realized that we need to focus on practical solutions to our power problem, and not just fantasize on how we'd like it to be.

Re:FFS (1)

abqaussie (1250734) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745874)

So the implication there is that nuclear is practical and wind and solar are not? And neither of the things I said in my original post were fantasies. They just take different strategies for realization than throwing a bunch of nuclear reactors at the problem.

Re:FFS (1)

byron036 (178130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745534)

I know just how to start, turn off your computer.

Reducing energy consumption at best only gives us the time to develop other sources. People running around demanding others reduce consumption never seem to do so themselves. But then again its always easier to make some poor family in the 3rd world do without.

Re:FFS (0, Offtopic)

abqaussie (1250734) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745840)

Awesome assumption. Every light in my house uses a CFL. I've replaced all the windows in my house with efficient ones just this past year and am in the process of improving the insulation in the roof and walls. After that I'll be replacing the furnace with a more efficient one, or going with solar heat. I still have to figure out the cost/benefit on that one. I participate in my local power company's alternative energy program, where I pay a premium to that a percentage of my power is purchased from "clean" generation sources. I ride the train to work about 3 days a week in the winter, and ride my bike in the summer, rather than driving a car. I still drive it when it's "necessary" but I try not to. On the whole the short term costs to me for all of the above will take decades to recover. So on the whole I have cut my consumption. I could cut it more. But I also never specified HOW people should reduce their consumption. I said more efficient devices. So you still use your stuff the same time you do now, it just uses less energy.

Re:FFS (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745554)

Your dodging the point.

Nuclear is a reality right now.
If governments wanted to, they could switch over to nuclear + renewable in a couple of years.
Add electric cars and bye bye a *lot* of CO2.

Re:FFS (4, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745918)

So silly of me.
Indeed it is. Conservation doesn't work for many of the same reasons that communism doesn't work. It is human nature to be greedy so why should I cut back when I can be a free rider [wikipedia.org] on your conservation? Are you going to create new regulatory agencies and energy police to seek out and punish people who don't conserve? Conservation, rationing, dividing up existing wealth, socialism...it just doesn't work and it has never worked. Either you use the gun (ala Stalin) or you have to offer people incentives and conservation is all stick and no carrot.

Re:FFS (4, Interesting)

nbert (785663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22746130)

Or we could just focus on improving the efficiency of solar and wind power generation.
At the current growth rate of the technologies you mentioned it simply isn't going to make a significant difference. Of course there is the possibility that improvements in efficiency will make up for it (by some miracle invention), but that's like betting on the slowest horse in a race because it offers the highest win - wouldn't do it with anything else but with some spare change I keep for entertainment.

The power consumption of devices is really important to me. For idealistic reasons I buy devices featuring high energy efficiency. Plus there is an economic dimension: In my country one kWh costs around $0.31 and one gallon is aroung $7.5. I must admit that the current dollar/euro ratio inflates these prices, but even if the exchange ratio was 1.30 the numbers would still look rather high. But even when I give preference to low-power devices I have no doubt that anything saved by me (and the western world in general) will be compensated by higher demand in emerging markets.

Btw: A high share of the prices mentioned above go into subvention of biofuel, wind- and solar-power. But even with high subventions the market share of regenerative energies is around 5% over here. In my very greenish opinion the best way to archive sustainability is the following: Tax energy consumption, but use the money coming from it for something else than subvention. This will make sure that demand is reduced on the customer side. On the production side legislation should regulate: Install a emission trading system like in Europe (but better) and sign international treaties like the Kyoto protocol. Producers could still use coal plants, but the economic benefit would strongly favor other sources of energy. I strongly believe that any other system will result in billions spend in nonsense.

Excellent (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745068)

Don't forget powering desalinization plants.

If you can build desalinization plants around the nuclear device, it would be easier to secure, and immediately noticed if someone started tampering with it. i.e. the loss of power.

Re:Excellent (2, Funny)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745108)

Nuclear reactor and the corrosive power of salt: a match made in heaven!

Re:Excellent (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745152)

It's a SEALED UNIT. Plus your not running the salt through the reactor, in fact the treatment doesn't even need to be near it, moron.

Re:Excellent (2, Interesting)

Gertlex (722812) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745246)

Nuclear reactors have a lot of waste heat. Might as well use that heat directly for desalination, rather than using the generated electricity.

Not that I've ever bothered to look at how modern desalination is accomplished.

Re:Excellent (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745832)

Calm down. It was mostly a joke, hence the subsequent moderation. But some part of the electrical distribution system that's near the rector would be exposed to the very corrosive salt.

There are two things that I DO NOT underestimate: The extent of God's mercy, and the corrosive power of salt.

what do you think ships use (3, Informative)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745250)

What do you think nuclear powered ships use for cooling? Seawater.

Re:what do you think ships use (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745426)

Most modern reactors use a sealed coolant system, where the coolant that circulates through the reactor is in a sealed loop.

A heat exchange device is used to transfer heat from the sealed coolant system to another system using ordinary methods to dissipate.

No salt water every actually goes into the reactor, or even near it. That would be idiotic.

Re:what do you think ships use (5, Informative)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745670)

Why the AC modded down? He's absolutely right. In a nuclear submarine, the coolant loop within the reactor is completely sealed. It pulls heat from the reactor, goes through a heat exchange where it dumps the heat into a second loop, which then flashes into steam to drive a turbine. The steam is then cooled again (presumably with seawater at that stage), across yet another heat exchange. Sea water doesn't even come close the reactor. The only time it ever does is when you seriously need to stop the reactor and dump all your heat. My understanding that this type of scram will basically fuse your entire reactor into a solid radioactive lump.

Re:what do you think ships use (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745770)

the AC isn't modded down. ACs are -1 by default.

Re:what do you think ships use (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22746052)

Sure there are things that are not seawater involved in cooling, such as heat exchangers and primary cooling loops. But you've still got sea water running through the system to do the cooling at temperatures hot enough to boil water at atmospheric pressure, and you could easily use this for desalination.

Re:what do you think ships use (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745602)

no they use a heat exchanger that transfers heat from 'light water' and cold sea water. there are 2 big problems with sea water. 1. it has salt 2. it has 'heavy water' particles, particles in almost every body of water, unless processed to not have any... particles that can in fact initiate fusion, just by being close enough to a fission reaction. how do you think they made the hydrogen bomb in the First place? put a lot of heavy water next to a fission reaction...

All atomic reactors use heat exchangers. the fact that people used 'light water' instead of liquid metals or liquid sodium in the first place is rather bizarre, because of how bad water is at etching metals, and because normal water can react to a uranium reaction.

Re:what do you think ships use (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745772)

I believe that both the Americans and Soviets had a lot of problems getting their liquid sodium coolant to work properly. Something about it being much harder to contain, corrosion in the coolant system, and the fact that liquid sodium adds the complexity of having to keep it liquid. Makes certain aspects of maintenance trickier.

Also, heavy water itself as very little to do with fusion bombs. Heavy water is used as a neutron moderator, which basically means it slows down neutrons, giving them a better chance of interacting with whatever fissile material you have lying around. Initiating fusion requires heavy hydrogen isotopes floating around close enough to the fission reaction (as in literally next to it).

Re:Excellent (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745742)

um actually it's "the corrosive power of water, highly magnified by the catalyst salt" liquid sodium is about as corrosive as nitrogen, but add a little bit of salt to water, and most metals corrode even faster than they do in just plain water.

Let's hope it works (3, Insightful)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745094)

In many countries their is a severe need for cheap plentiful energy to do things that we take for granted like water purification. It's a given that before a country starts receiving these reactors that they will have to ratchet up a lot of the infra-structures to distribute the energy and maintain security. I can't help but see this has the potential to help everyone involved.

Can't resist urge to make puns (5, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745104)

The Energizer Nuclear battery, it just keeps glowing, and glowing, and glowing....


I apologize profusely.

Unfortunately... (1)

ClaraClayton (1243172) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745106)

...we require something with a little more kick- plutonium!

Re:Unfortunately... (1)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745524)

Nice BTTF ref!

At Last! (1, Insightful)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745110)

I'll be able to take my N95 away for a weekend without the charger.....

CopperTop Size Dx10^238 (2, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745124)

I like the Nuclear Batteries idea. It at least tries to solve a difficult, but important, problem with a creative solution that might help create a compromise between our needs for energy secure neighbors and want of nuclear non-proliferation. Sadly, we have people in our own country who protest and actively try to stop transport of our own nuclear wastes. I imagine, sadly, that the uproar of transporting "live" material in this form will be even greater. It is not at all about the actual hazards of the "batteries," but it is all about the perception of hazards. I like the direction, but there are elements missing in the formula.

Re:CopperTop Size Dx10^238 (2, Insightful)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22746122)

You say nuclear, they think Hiroshima. You say reactor, they think Chernobyl. I think the misinformed greenies out there should do their homework as to the benefits of nuclear power versus their preconceived notion of risk to personal safety. I've lived near a nuclear facility my entire life and really haven't seen much merit to what people like Greenpeace have to say.

Why reinvent the wheel? (4, Interesting)

irregular_hero (444800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745130)

Toshiba has already developed this as a viable technology and is in the process of deploying something like this in Alaska as part of an NSF-funded replacement of a diesel-fired powerplant.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshiba_4S [wikipedia.org]

And Toshiba's not the only game in town as far as micro-reactors go. Why would the government spend a boatload to develop something that already exists commercially? Why not just allow countries to select the best commercial design that fits them and ease the regulatory barriers to permit easier US fueling of self-contained sub-50 megawatt reactors? Seems like the AEC is just caught flatfooted in response to new technology, that's all -- no need to develop anything, just rework the regulations to take into account new technologies.

Re:Why reinvent the wheel? (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745256)

First, this is in the range of 250 MW to 500 MW. Second, Toshiba has done nothing with theirs. Finally, the idea of these is to make it difficult to have a country use these for bomb making. Every country has no choice BUT to persue nuclear power plants. The reason is that EU and much of the west is about to slap a carbon tax on (there is no way around this; it is the only way to protect their industry AND drop their own carbon). But we can not have more NKs, Pakistans etc. running around. As it is, American republicans sold our nuke secrets to Turkey and Pakistan and that is why we have issues from the middle east in the first place.

Re:Why reinvent the wheel? (3, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745390)

Toshiba hasn't done anything with theirs yet because it hasn't been licensed yet by the NRC. Once licensed, they're going to install it free of charge (proof of concept). That should offset a fair amount of fuel costs for Gurnee, AK.

Re:Why reinvent the wheel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745622)

Furthermore, it's actually required by the Non-Profilation Treaty that the recognized nuclear powers (US, USSR-->Russia, et al.) assist any desiring non-nuclear states to develop their nuclear power industries.

Iran's publicly stated reason for its nuclear research is that the nuclear states are not helping it to develop nuclear power, so it has no choice but to run its own enrichment program. I think that's just a fig leaf of an excuse, but certainly opinions may differ, especially seeing as this is /.

Re:Why reinvent the wheel? (1)

Cloud K (125581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745598)

Toshiba... aren't they the ones with the exploding batteries or am I thinking of another manufacturer?

Either way, with the industry's track record with lithium ion I think making nuclear batteries will have to be done with a wee bit of caution :)

Why reinvent the language? Above is misleading (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#22746128)

Toshiba has already developed this as a viable technology and is in the process of deploying something like this in Alaska

While it is a habit lately to redefine words at whim to win arguments the old meaning of viable is a bit different to this and the old meaning of deploying is something other than very early design stages. The old meaning of "already exists" is also something that I'm a little happier with than the redefinition where ideas can be described that way instead of physical objects. While the thing is promising it DOES NOT EXIST YET and you can not buy one. You could get second hand submarine reactors that are similar but they were orginally very expensive to build.

Maybe they can just grab Russia's lost RTGs (1, Flamebait)

chrishillman (852550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745164)

Nuclear batteries have been in place for a long time, resulting in bad things: http://www.bellona.no/bellona.org/english_import_area/international/russia/navy/northern_fleet/incidents/31772 [bellona.no]

But maybe that is because Russia lost so many of them and people broke into them to get warm.

I need one! (0, Offtopic)

spazoid12 (525450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745242)

"non-user replaceable radioactive battery"

Sweet! Now, finally, I'll take the iPod plunge...

Non-user replaceable battery? (2, Insightful)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745266)

Is Apple going to be building these things?

(Not that I don't like Apple products, I just wish the batteries on iPods were replaceable.) :)

Bad Idea! (1)

Bushido Hacks (788211) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745282)

The last time a big country had a bad idea for developing countries was when the United States gave WEAPONS to Afghanistan to push out the Russians.

If we are going to give them a "mini-nuclear reactor", why not give them instructions on how to weaponize it while we are at it?

OLPC (0, Troll)

that_itch_kid (1155313) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745292)

Finally, we can get rid of those cranks in the XO....

In Soviet Russia.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22745352)

....Nuclear batteries dispose of you!

I can't wait till these get smaller (2, Funny)

Prototerm (762512) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745364)

Then when your laptop battery explodes, it'll take out a whole city block.

Cool!

What's wrong with running undersea cables? (1)

t0qer (230538) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745398)

What are they going to do, encase the entire reactor in a giant epoxy glob? Humans have a knack for being able to open things (opposable thumbs, reasoning, abstract thinking)

I understand AC has it's transmission limits, so lets backpedal a bit here.

Put the reactor under the ocean at some insane depth near the 3rd world country, and run undersea cables to the shore.

Re:What's wrong with running undersea cables? (2, Insightful)

EricB504 (1256040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745544)

Ohm's Law

Re:What's wrong with running undersea cables? (1)

laxsu19 (1256044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745684)

and that whole corrosion thing... even with some magic epoxy... materials engineering isnt exactly cake.

Tagged: (1)

I Like Pudding (323363) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745412)

iNuke

Proliferation and security (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745526)

The work continues despite fears about security and nuclear proliferation.


I think TFA misses the point entirely: the main reason for the work is to address security and nuclear proliferation fears. Packaging reactors that are not particularly useful in an arms program with a complete lifetime of fuel and making them available to developing countries is intended as a minimize both the reality and the appearance of a legitimate need for developing countries to have their own civilian (or merely "civilian") nuclear programs, which could more easily be converted to (or covers for) military programs.

Clearly, they aren't proliferation proof, but traditional reactors, especially built and developed locally (even if with outside assistance) are even less proliferation-proof, and those are spreading in the absence of any effort to provide an alternative. This is an attempt to lessen the both the actual need and the political viability of the claim of a need for those kind of independent programs.

The alternative to this program is not that the developing world gets no nuclear material and no reactors.

This is bad (3, Interesting)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745538)

Have you noticed that it is the US that is planning the "solution" to a foreign problem? Did anyone ask for help in the first place? Or they are mandating it?

What if, say, Peru plans a solution to US health care problem and decides unilaterally to deploy that solution to the US?

Re:This is bad (1)

laxsu19 (1256044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745752)

The difference here is that energy is everyones problem. We all are pulling energy from the same pool. Also, developing the technology does not mean that the President will force it somewhere. BUt it does give another country a nice option while also giving our nuclear engineers practice with brand new designs.

Re:This is bad (4, Insightful)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745762)

Ahhh the good ol' double standard.

Do nothing and a hue and a cry goes up for leadership. Do something and a hue and a cry goes up because we're insufferable bastards forcing or will on the rest of the world.

You don't get it both ways. Either we lead the way or we don't. I haven't seen a plan like this put out by any other first world nation, though I suppose I could be lacking information.

Re:This is bad (1)

Gideon Fubar (833343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745836)

Peru 'suddenly' becomes a rogue socialist state after the AMA lobbies congress to stop their illegal free medicine.. citizens are aided more than they would otherwise be, but still find things to complain about.

I knew it. (2, Informative)

ultramk (470198) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745596)

like a giant non-user replaceable radioactive battery

The iPod Yotta cometh. Steve's gonna be pissed that it leaked.

(The news, I mean. If the battery leaked, you would have to evacuate the city.)

Brilliant (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745702)

It's a brilliant idea, especially if they can miniaturize it!
Stick one in a car! How about torch batteries! Laptops etc etc!
Even remote controls!!!!

Trusted? (4, Insightful)

The Mgt (221650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745714)

Plans include having reactors supplied with fuel by the US and other trusted nations

Trusted by who?

Nukes NOW (3, Insightful)

bxwatso (1059160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745718)

Here are some facts as I see them:

1. In today's economy, energy availability is one of the keys to economic growth and a reasonable standard of living, especially for developing nations.

2. The general consensus is that carbon fuels are harming the environment.

3. "Alternative" energy sources such as solar and wind are much more expensive per unit of energy than carbon, and developing nations have little interest in them.

Therefore, AFAIK, the only feasible source of energy that can lift people to western standards of living without burning huge amounts of fossil fuels is nuclear. Even so, developing nations have no interest in nuclear (except Iran and DRK) because it is still more expensive than coal. To spread nuclear power will require incentives and R&D taylored to small nations.

Nuclear power is by far the safest source of energy that can be deployed anywhere in the world (sorry hydro and thermo), and I think a program such as this one could be one of the greatest developments for the world's poor. Even the US could use 100 new nuclear plants today to achieve its environmental goals.

Re:Nukes NOW (1)

laxsu19 (1256044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745814)

Well said.

that's mighty fine idea you got there, Porky (0, Offtopic)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745790)

1. Bomb Iran
2. Disposable Nuclear Reactor
3. ...
4. Profit!

I'm John McCain, and I approve this message.

I have only one question: (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745894)

Since when, in the last few decades anyway, has the U.S. been a "trusted" nation? Any by whom? I sure as hell don't know, and I live here.

Adapting Steven Wright (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 6 years ago | (#22745916)

"Anyplace is walking distance, if you have the time."

Any reactor is disposable, if you have the place.

As for arguments that the design precludes abuse and proliferation, never underestimate those of persistence, regardless of intent (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_boy_scout). They tend to take explanations of supposedly difficult things (like http://science.howstuffworks.com/uranium-centrifuge.htm [howstuffworks.com] ) and hack an easier method, such as using the "centrifuge" part but not the "gaseous diffusion" part. I thought up one just writing this. Any uranium enrichment process might work, if you have the time.

Nuclear landmines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22746098)

Hmph. Reactors that could "accidentally" go into meltdown at the touch of a remote button. Essentially, the USA wants to landmine the developing world with nuclear bombs. How helpful and charitable. Thanks, but if the developing world has any sense they'll stay the fuck away from "gifts" from the regressing world nations, particularly the USA.

Here first please. (2, Insightful)

macz (797860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22746100)

Why would we give away free power to the rest of the world?

They are realy NAQUADAH REACTORs (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22746142)

They just say nuclear as a cover and if any one digs deep they will find the name homer simpson.

I hard that homer simpson is working on this (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22746174)

I hard that homer simpson is working on this.

al-Qaeda plans Battery Recycling Plant (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22746180)

Isn't it great when people work together?

I can see it now - we make nuclear disposable batteries and al-Qaeda recycles them out of the kindness of their hearts ...
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