Dec 17, 2020
by Jeff McMahon
Nuclear advocates see a vast market for reactors in carbon capture and carbon-based products, not only for the next generation of reactors in development, but also for the aging dinosaurs they evolved from.
“Carbon products represent the potential for an entirely new market for nuclear energy,” said Canon Bryan, the CFO of Terrestrial Energy, which is developing a reactor that uses liquid uranium fluoride fuel.
“If the waste heat from that plant was being combined with electricity production you could be removing 20 million tons per year of carbon from the atmosphere,” said Kirsty Gogan, co-founder of Energy for Humanity [and Managing Director at LucidCatalyst], at an EarthX panel on Wednesday.
“Right now what’s happening is these big gigawatt-scale depreciating assets—they’re making baseload, clean, emissions-free power, but we’re just throwing away the heat, right? Those nuclear plants could be more useful, making a big contribution toward that responsibility we all have to go negative."
“We all try to be neutral, but it ain’t good enough. We have to take responsibility for the carbon that’s already in the atmosphere and go negative.”
Modular reactors may also be cheaper, Gogan said, because they can be manufactured in factories on a standard model:
“If you move away from the sort of low-productivity construction approach to a high-productivity manufacturing environment—standardized products, designed for manufacture and assembly, designed for reuse so you don’t redesign your product every time, very high productivity manufacturing and delivery—you end up with really short construction schedules, a lot of certainty around budget and schedule and ultimately optimized outcomes, as you’d expect to see with any standardized manufactured product.”