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A team of engineers have begun digging and drilling holes at a site near to the banks of the Clinch River in eastern Tennessee, as they prepare for the development of a prototype plant that could become the future of nuclear power.
National Geographic said that the engineers will be taking “core samples, documenting geologic, hydrologic, and seismic conditions,” as they determine the safety of the site which will hold the world’s first ever commercial small modular nuclear reactor (SMR).
The site was once to be used to build the US’s first ever fast breeder reactor, but those plans were abandoned after it was decided that the costs were too high, and safety too uncertain. SMR’s are considered the cheapest, and safest, new nuclear technology around, and Tennessee Valley Authority, the largest publically owned utility in the US, has teamed up with Babcock & Wilcox to build two prototype SMR’s by 2022.
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Nuclear power plants tend to be huge and expensive, costing around $20 billion, according to Bob Rosner, a nuclear expert at the University of Chicago, and not many utilities can afford this. Supporters of the SMR believe that building a number of small reactors is more likely than one giant facility.
The first ever commercial SMR plant in the US will have a capacity of 180MW.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com