The nuclear industry and the U. S. Department of Energy are promoting the development of SMRs, supposedly to head off the most severe impacts of climate change. But are SMRs a practical and realistic technology for this purpose? To answer, two factors are paramount to consider – time and cost. These factors can be used to divide SMRs into two broad categories: Light water reactors based on the same general technical and design principles as present-day power reactors in the U.S., which in theory could be certified and licensed with less complexity and difficulty. Designs that use a range of different fuel designs, such as solid balls moving through the reactor core like sand, or molten materials flowing through the core; moderators such as graphite; and coolants such as helium, liquid sodium or molten salts.
On both counts, the prospects for SMRs are poor.
EWG 25th March 2021 read more »