A group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology presented the concept of a modular low-power nuclear reactor. Reactors such as “batteries” can be shipped on demand to generate heat and electricity locally. The capacity of the system does not exceed 10 MW, and it can be deployed within a few weeks or months.
The US continues to seek alternatives for a carbon-free economy. More precisely, nuclear energy continues to be regarded as vital for the decarbonization of industry and the life of mankind. An important step along this path was the transition from the design of small reactors with a power of 100 to 300 MW to the development of small reactors with a power of up to 10 MW. Such reactors can be manufactured in factories as a completely ready-to-use product and transported in standard 40-foot containers (12-meter).
The MIT scientists’ concept assumes the use of steel structures for complete protection from penetration into the reactor area and from harmful emissions. The system is equipped with passive cooling. For the operation of such power plants, special knowledge will not be needed. The company will bring the reactor, install it, and in 5–10 years will pick it up for disposal or repair. Additional protection against penetration can be considered the proposed installation of reactors below the earth’s surface, which will take most of the time during the deployment.
Such power plants can be installed both in the most remote parts of the planet and in densely populated areas. Commissioning will be quick and commercially available. In the near future, prototypes are expected to be tested at one of the US national laboratories. The prototype will first be tested under normal operating conditions and then subjected to extreme crash testing. If the tests are completed normally, compact micro-reactors can be put into mass production very quickly.