Researchers weigh in on Sask’s small modular nuclear reactor idea

SaskPower has narrowed down the place a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) will go if Saskatchewan strikes ahead with know-how.

The websites in query are within the areas of Estevan and Elbow, that are each near water sources, have current energy transmission infrastructure and have the capability to assist a workforce.

SaskPower stated the sphere could be chosen by 2023, though a choice on whether or not to make use of SMR know-how as a part of the province’s electrical energy era combine wouldn’t be made till 2029.

If permitted, SMR could possibly be operational by 2035.

Researchers Esam Hussein and Susan O’Donnell have each studied small modular nuclear reactors. they talked blue sky of cbc radio Thursday, visitor host Stephanie Langnegger solutions questions from the general public.

The next questions and interviews have been edited and summarized for readability:

asam hussain

Essam Hussain is a nuclear engineer and retired Dean of Engineering on the College of Regina.

What precisely is a small modular reactor?

Hussain: There’s a small a part of it, which implies the ability degree is lower than 300 MW. What’s new [technology] Right here is “modular”.

There are a couple of definitions for modular. Certainly one of them is constructing an influence plant from smaller modules, so an influence plant could be constructed from smaller items, relatively than having to speculate capital and take monetary dangers, to supply massive quantities of electrical energy. Different definition of modularity is constructing reactors and modules from web site.

The concept right here is to scale back development time and value and this has been a problem for nearly any megaproject. As you recognize they’re all the time over stipulated time and over finances.

How does know-how work?

Boiling-water reactor (the kind of know-how chosen by SaskPower for potential SMR) is a really nicely established, examined know-how. The brand new factor right here is that it’s small in energy and quantity, and it’s modular.

In a approach, it is much less dangerous than going with a brand new know-how, or know-how that did not show to be very efficient up to now. candu system Has been a really dependable know-how. It has served the nation nicely. It makes use of pure uranium so we do not have to import enriched uranium, which is utilized by boiling water reactors.

Nonetheless, growing the price of know-how has been a problem.

How can this slot in with renewable power sources?

The best way I see it’s that having SMR will truly encourage extra use of renewables, photo voltaic and wind, as a result of you’ve a dependable base load you’ll be able to rely upon.

How can the situation of the SMR have an effect on tourism for the folks dwelling in or across the space?

I spent 25 years of my profession in New Brunswick. The Level Lepreau Nuclear Energy Plant is within the Gulf of Fundy.

It is a stunning space. Persons are nonetheless dwelling within the locality. In reality, research present that individuals dwelling close to nuclear reactors are very supportive of nuclear know-how.

Nothing actually important has been launched that impacts water high quality. The water is being monitored. The one factor is that you’re releasing some water, not radioactive water, strange water, which is barely hotter and it might increase the temperature.

Susan O’Donnell

Susan O’Donnell is an assistant professor with the College of New Brunswick and the College of St. Thomas, who additionally works with the Coalition for Accountable Power Improvement. She has been doing analysis completely on SMR over the last two years. (Submitted by Susan O’Donnell)

What do you concentrate on Saskatchewan and your province that’s constructing a small nuclear reactor?

O’Donnell: There’s an enormous leap between having a design for an SMR after which getting an engineered design to the purpose the place you’ll be able to apply for a license to truly construct one.

Probably the most superior design for SMR within the US is named NuScale, and so they have spent nearly a billion {dollars} on engineered the design and received a license to construct it.

It is one other massive leap between constructing a prototype that may truly work in a lab to truly working commercially in the true world.

Then why would the 4 provinces be them?

I have to say that the selections surrounding SMR on the federal degree and definitely on the provincial degree are political selections relatively than based mostly on science.

From studying peer-reviewed science in three totally different nations – Canada, the US and the UK – it actually would not make any financial sense. Nonetheless, what we’re doing here’s a very, very highly effective trade, the nuclear trade, which has a protracted historical past in Canada, and so they’re lobbying like loopy to get this stuff off the bottom as a result of sadly, nuclear Power has not been financially profitable.

In New Brunswick, the Level Lepreau reactor has been a monetary catastrophe for the province. It has given us $3.6 billion in debt. It loses cash yearly as a consequence of unscheduled downtime.

How is that this know-how totally different from what’s already in use?

I typically hear folks say, we have already got these little reactors in submarines, et cetera. There’s a large distinction between navy and civilian reactors, and it is a actually essential level. They use extraordinarily wealthy gasoline, and that is mainly the type of gasoline you’ll be able to truly make nuclear bombs with, and you’ll solely use them in a navy setting.

In Canada we’ve CANDU reactors, which run on utterly totally different fuels. That is pure uranium from Saskatchewan.

Not one of the proposed new reactors is proposing to make use of Saskatchewan uranium. They’re proposing to make use of all enriched gasoline that may come from exterior Canada, as a result of we do not have a enrichment plant.

The designs are totally different and it’ll take them a very long time to understand if they will make them, if they will get them to work.

How can this slot in with renewable power sources?

We don’t say that we’re going to finish world starvation by feeding everybody caviar. Why would you’re taking the costliest approach to produce electrical energy, which is nuclear energy, and say how are we going to resolve the local weather disaster when the know-how simply would not exist and we’ve confirmed applied sciences like wind and photo voltaic?

Hearken to the complete episode right here:

Blue Sky47:01Is there a necessity for small modular reactors to assist Sask. Attain web zero by 2050?

SaskPower is holding public data and engagement classes all through the autumn. Extra data could be discovered on the Corwn Company web site.

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