Technology

Rolls-Royce will build the mini nuclear reactors that will revolutionize energy in the United Kingdom

A few days ago the British Government specified the future energy course of the United Kingdom confirming that nuclear energy will be its central piece. The country, which thus aspires to increase its energy independence and dispense with fossil fuels, intends to build eight new large reactors so that nuclear energy has a weight of 25% compared to the current 15%. But perhaps the biggest novelty are the mini nuclear reactors (small modular reactors or SMR) that will help achieve this objective: the United Kingdom is one of the countries that wants to sign up for this “energy revolution” by installing dozens of these “small” reactors in its country, which, as already explained LMThey have advantages over conventional ones because they are easier to install, they are safer in part due to their smaller size, cheaper and with more possibilities of use, even in remote places.

Although SMR is already underway in Russia and China, its definitive emergence is expected to be in the 1930s. By then, the more than 70 projects they are working on around the world will likely be ready to go. Among them, there is the minireactor in which he works rolls royce, an engineering company most popular for its luxury cars but which has been working in the energy sector for years. It is also an important manufacturer of aviation engines, both civil and military, including the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet, in service in several European countries such as Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Austria.

The head of the Rolls-Royce SMR division, Paul Stein, announced a few days ago that they hope to receive the approval of the regulatory authorities in 2024 and that their mini-jets will be ready to supply energy to the United Kingdom in 2029. “We are trying to work with the British government” to start supplying power “by mid-2029,” he announced in statements collected by Guardian. Rolls-Royce wants to have ten built by 2035.

The disseminator Alfredo García (@NuclearOperator) highlighted this Wednesday some of the characteristics of the Rolls-Royce SMR: the reactor will have dimensions of 16 meters long by four meters wide and the construction and factory assembly, in a modular way, of up to 90% of its components It will allow speeding up the times to lift the plant. It is estimated that it will only take 500 days.

The company has been refining the design of the standard plant, which will occupy a space of about two football stadiums. In terms of power, you can generate 470 Mwe, with a capacity to power more than a million homes a year. The company estimates that the energy it generates will cost around 50 pounds per megawatt, comparable, it defends, to those of wind energy, another of the pillars of Johnson’s energy strategy, which wants to install a huge wind farm in the sea from North. In his report to defend his SMR design, he underlines another of the great advantages of mini-reactors: their versatility to generate, in addition to electricity, energy for desalination plants or to power large industrial plants, among other uses.

Rolls-Royce also defends that the initial SMR will cost 2.2 million pounds but that it will be reduced to 1.8 after the sixth reactor. Regarding the exploitation time, they estimate that operate for at least sixty years and that the used fuel is stored in the same facilities.

The Rolls-Royce mini-reactor will use an already known technology: it will be a pressurized water reactor that will use uranium oxide as fuel. will employ passive security systems that could keep the plant running for 72 hours, minimizing human action and the need for energy. It will feature a steel containment vessel to protect key systems, a special vessel to confine the molten core in the event of a major accident, and barriers resistant to external assaults such as aircraft strikes and tsunamis to protect essential equipment.

The company, which has made SMR one of its main projects, wants to bring this technology to countries other than the UK.

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