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General Atomics Hopes to Sell Small Reactors Within 12 Years

EEI Daily Energy News

General Atomics said it intends to develop a small, helium-cooled nuclear reactor that will use nuclear waste as its fuel within 12 years, the Wall Street Journal reported today. General Atomics called it the Energy Multiplier Module and estimated that there was enough waste to fuel 3,000 of the 240-MW reactors. The reactors' operating temperature would be up to 850 degrees Centigrade, which could make them well-adapted for industrial use. They would be one-fourth the size of traditional reactors.

General Atomics hoped to use its experience in building more than five dozen small reactors to make a simple reactor with passive safety systems. However, the estimated $1.7-billion cost of development, along with the need for NRC certification of the unique design, loomed as significant obstacles. Company Senior VP John Parmentola said that "we know we're in the very early stage with a lot of work ahead of us." David Matthews, head of new reactors at NRC, noted: "We anticipate that [reviewing the reactors] will take a great deal of additional effort because of the uniqueness of the designs."

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 22.