Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

> 3 times as much heat energy can be released into the local environment

Or used for desalination, hydrogen, syngas, ammonia, methanol, ethanol production [1] etc.


Also, your estimation is incorrect. The thremal rated power of a nuclear reactor doesn't mean it releases 3x as much heat in the environment. At least 1/3 of the thermal energy is converted to electricity, and part of what remains is fed into a new cycle. The overall efficiency of a nuclear reacor is 33-37%. Gen IV reactor projected efficiencies are above 45%.

Waste heat cant simply be used for this and that, or else we would see all existing thermo-electric powerplants already doing so. Efforts to make thermo-electric plant more efficient and use waste heat are ongoing, but full use of waste heat would be a more game changing development than practical fission reactors !

Its rather rhetorical for us to quibble with my statement "about 3 times.." But in my readings on the matter 33-37% is the theoretic optimal running efficiency of most existing nuclear plants (depends on the kind and expense of turbine cycle and cooling system employed).

Combined heat and power (CHP) is a thing, though mostly in colder climates where there's a need for heating in the winter.

In principle you could do the same with nuclear, but there's challenges in siting a reactor close enough to a big city, and also current reactors tend to be too big. SMR's might help, and there's active research in this area.

SMRs likewise require generators and cooling plant, 2 or 3 times as much cooling as electricity produced, perhaps even more if its to be done most economically. So if CHP is justification for such release of heat into cool environments - they should be categorized as mainly a source of heating, not high value electrical energy. An ability to make continuous heat on this planet is not a futuristic energy supply in its own right, it falls well short of the "game changer" goal.

Thermal nuclear reactors have their MWt rating 3x of their MWe. All of them produce heat.

Generators? Cooling Plant? I don't know about others, but NuScale Power's SMR has natural circulation an passive cooling.


That's internal passive cooling which they mention briefly in their faq (transferal of heat from their reactor to their output loop). These units take in water and output steam, and they need attached to thermo-electric plant to produce electricity. They are water boilers.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact