"An academic reactor or reactor plant almost always has the following basic characteristics: (1) It is simple. (2) It is small. (3) It is cheap (4) It is light. (5) It can be built very quickly. (6) It is very flexible in purpose (’omnibus reactor’). (7) Very little development is required. It will use mostly off-the-shelf components. (8) The reactor is in the study phase. It is not being built now."
Link to the other thread here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22851622
Link to the recent HN discussion of said letter by Admiral Rickover here:
In this context, Oklo uses private funds. Simple, small, cheap, light, quick to build, flexible, little development are all irrelevant. Safety is the only relevant thing as far as the NRC approval is concerned.
If it turns out NRC deems this reactor safe, and Oklo manages to work out the economics so they make a profit, Rickover for once will not have the last lough.
The 80% renewables feasibility study will quickly be out of date, and we will get to 90% or 95% with pure renewables and short term storage. That's because we haven't even really considered much demand side management, and most of the studies vastly underestimate the pace of price decline. And when we have a grid powered by 70%-95% renewables we will find an energy market with a ton of electricity that's getting curtailed--ie energy that is essentially free.
IMHO more promising climate bets would likely be: 1) low capital cost hydrogen production that is cost effective when used highly intermittently, 2) atmospheric carbon capture and conversion to carbon chains for synthetic fuels. The second route is already being pursued by some startups, and they think that they will be able to match the current cost of gasoline with gasoline made from atmospheric CO2 and solar power within 5-10 years.
Atmospheric carbon capture is going to be necessary in a few decades, so we need to start developing the tech now and make it as cheap as possible.
If nuclear could be no mode than 2x the cost of solar, I think there may be some use cases for it, but I don't think there will be much of an economic case for it. If we could site it right next to residential or offices, we could perhaps use the waste heat for space heating, but I can't see that being popular.
The question in mind is whether there is product-market fit for a small/reliable nuclear reactor that competes directly with mature diesel generators. It sounds like interesting technology; I hope they succeed.
Imagine mach-6+ flights carrying 20K passengers at a time going NYC --> South Asia within an hour or two. Entire town populations commuting to a diffefent continent every day!
More seriously, if you want to learn more about the history of aircraft nuclear propulsion research, the HTRE reactivity excursion report contains quite a bit of design overview in it as background for the rest of the report.
But I am forced to admit that airborne aircraft carriers like in Sky Captain would be very cool. (I guess some people like to call those "helicarriers", but I can't get past the busted etymology.)
A helicopter or balloon with an unshielded nuke reactor hanging below it, that never needs to land, seems pretty cool.
Then later they butchered/removed that too - so all you get now is some generalized garbage for results that is not really relevant to your specific problem.
I guess the problem they wanted to combat is that Google would deliver no useful results at all for overly specific queries, so they made it "generalize" always.
Software development is not really the only sector that has this problem with Google now though, it's just that devs can usually tell that Google is the problem.
Searching for anything specific and technical has become hard.
Google used to be great at finding stuff you needed for work in your field, and sometimes bad at finding everyday everybody stuff. Now it's reversed.
Silently depricating bolean operators and quotes was definitely bad for power users but let's be realistic these queries are probably the most resource intensive for google and equally not likely to bring ad revenue.
The bigger issue to me is that even a company like google, with near unlimited resources, seems to be unable to fight off SEO/spam/bots in order to show content with substance to end users. In the last 10 or 15 years this has become scaringly noticeable. The spammers have won the war.