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Open-source blueprints for a tiny nuclear reactor (open-100.com)
25 points by vo2maxer on March 7, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 7 comments

These are artistic 3D models of different parts of a fictional miniature nuclear reactor, right? Am I missing something here?

Can any knowledgeable person comment on the accuracy / balance of this claim? I distrust promotional materials, but to an ignorant lay person this is intriguing:

Standard light water reactors are proliferation-resistant by their very physics. As with uranium, plutonium is only a proliferation risk in a highly enriched form; but in a light water reactors, plutonium-240 (isotopically diluting) accumulates in a manner which renders the plutonium-239 (weapons-grade) useless. This characteristic differentiates Power Reactors (Light Water, Boiling Water) from Production Reactors (RBMK, Heavy Water Reactors). OPEN100 is based on a standard Pressurized (Light) Water Reactor.

I've just finished watching the Chernobyl mini-series.

This strikes me as equal part fascinating, equal part terrifying.

I know that Bezos is betting on fusion, but dropping a couple billion on implementing this would be a game changer and would be a PR coup for him.

"Ah yes, let’s build a park around a nuclear reactor"

Are they wrong, here?

Irrespective of plant location there is no hazard to public health from the meltdown of a light water reactor. In the case of any nuclear accident there are two possible paths for radionuclides to affect humans, direct physical proximity or biological uptake; in the case of a light water reactor accident, neither apply. The potential of being directly exposed to a dangerous level of radiation outside of the reactor facility is negligible due to the distance based fall-off rate of radiation (the inverse square law).

People who are outside of the nuclear reactor building itself would be a sufficient distance to prevent exposure. Regarding biological uptake, for radionuclides to reach concentrations high enough to pose a hazard to human health, they must pass through several stages of environmental re-concentration: deposition across a farm field, followed by cow grazing, followed by milk ingestion. As demonstrated by Fukushima, the quantities of radiation released in the case of a light water reactor accident are so low, less than 30 grams of I-131, even environmental concentration isn't sufficient to cause harm.

Thus, whether this type of nuclear reactor was in the middle of a city or a country field, as long as there are no humans in the reactor room itself, there is no practical means by which a person could be affected. This is of course to be differentiated from a graphite reactor that can catch fire, increasing the distribution of radionuclides to the environment. Given this understanding, OPEN100 visualizations and models do not preclude siting near population centers. While many countries have regulatory restrictions on nuclear plant placement, we challenge this counterproductive restriction to show a vision of what is possible.

There is no consensual definition of a "negligible" radiation, as, for example, some induce solid cancers 10 to 15 years after exposition. Risk calculus is heavily tainted by hypothesis, mainly about https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hormesis

The amount of victims of the Chernobyl disaster may be up to 965,000, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl:_Consequences_of_the...

Think also of radionucleides in groundwater, drank by millions during many years... Nuclear waster repositories must, by law, be sealed for 1 million years.

AFAIK all Fukushima's plant reactors were either inactive or scramed (shut down) when the disaster happened, the outcome with fully active reactors may be different.

Fuku cleanup is not neglectable, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_disaster_cleanup

Don't forget nuke hot waste, left as a gift for future generations. Officially 'managed', yet there is no exploited repository.

Add combustible dependency (not so much known uranium reserves, no mastered way to obtain it w/o mining, in a not-so-distant future some may have to wage war in order to obtain some...), and nuclear proliferation (weapons).

Add the NIMBY effect.

Then consider that many other approaches alleviate all those burdens while showing an IMHO much better and more realistic vision, for example: https://www.cell.com/one-earth/fulltext/S2590-3322(19)30225-...

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