1. At about one hour into the discussion, the issue of siting for nuclear power plants in Australia came up. It was assumed that they would have to be sited on the coast to be cooled by seawater, thus precluding use of what they described as Australia’s “big back yard”. My thought on that: why not an Adams Engine? Other thought: why not offshore nuclear power plants?

    1. This has been discussed on a previous topic. Fort St Vrain comes to mind. It was an air cooled plant. There is no reason Australian plants couldn’t be air cooled.

      They noted using small reactors for mining operations. With the huge distances that they have to truck fuel, a smaller air cooled reactor serving a remote mining operation seems to make a lot of sense. The reactor could be re-utilized if the ore body played out.

    2. “My thought on that: why not an Adams Engine? Other thought: why not offshore nuclear power plants?”

      Well, most currently running reactors are water cooled. And offshore comes with some cost. I wonder how close designs like the Adams Engine is to actual production from a technical perspective; i.e if all regulatory and funding issues were taken care of how long would it take to build one.

  2. The best quote from Barry Brook comes right at the end, speaking of Fukushima:

    “We can always identify potential health impacts of major catastrophic accidents, rare but catastrophic accidents like this, when nuclear power goes wrong. But we know, when coal goes right, it kills ten times more people.”

  3. @Keith: Indeed. On the other hand I was heartened to hear the questioner of WNN’s Ian Hore-Lacy’s contention that “no one was injured or died from radiation at Fukushima”. Also that he stood by that assertion. But as with the low-grade ore myth, the crucial point is that some of these people showed up to join the discussion: before they spoke up I had feared the panel were preaching to the converted. It was an admirably polite discussion.

    As far as siting is concerned, in Steve Kirsch’s IFR Q&A is floated the suggestion of siting SMR’s on existing coal generation sites as replacement for just the steam generation system, while re-using the existing cooling, turbine, and condensers if they be still power-worthy. I’d always supposed the design of a steam generator, be it fossil or nuclear, is tightly coupled with that of the turbine system it feeds. Cooling towers etc. might be different, but I’m not a power engineer. Has anyone a clue?

    1. Most Rankine cycle fossil plants produce superheated steam, and their turbine/generator sets are optimized for that, running at higher temperatures, pressures, and enthalpy (and at 3600 rpm for a 60 hz grid).

      Most LWRs (the B&W once-thru steam generators the exception) produce saturated steam, and their turbines are thusly optimized (and have 4-pole generators spinning at 1800 rpm).

      The substitution of fossil by nuclear is not necessarily as “plug-and-play” as we might hope. Detailed engineering evaluations of the compatibility of the nuclear steam supply system and the secondary (main turbine and generator) systems would be required.

      Steve H. has been an IFR advocate, one of several Gen-IV designs which could indeed produce superheated steam more compatible with existing fossil secondaries.

      1. Thanks. The suggestion in Steve’s IFR Q&A about substituting a SMR for just the steam generator in a coal power plant was indeed specific to that SMW being a PRISM IFR.

        1. I suspect that molten-salt reactors would be suitable as well.  Some designs might require an intermediate loop of a low-melting fluid to avoid freezing up the steam generators during startup, before the feedwater heaters have begun to work.

          1. @E-P

            And some HTGRs — like the HTR-PM — are being specifically designed to enable them to serve as coal furnace replacements with steam conditions that are virtually identical to those in most modern steam plants. The first unit under construction in China today, due to be operation by the end of 2015, use 2 reactor units feeding a single new steam turbine that is one of the countries smaller versions of their standard steam cycle.

            The demonstration project is designed to gain experience with controlling the operation of multiple reactors feeding a single steam turbine so that the concept can be expanded to some of the larger steam turbines in operation. At some point after experience has been gained and the supply chain for the fuel elements has been suitably expanded, I predict that China will begin replacing coal furnaces/boilers in selected plants in or near cities with air pollution challenges. They will retain the current 250-300 MWth reactor design to maintain the inherent passive cooling feature so that there is no need for an EPZ outside the plant boundaries.

  4. As far as coastal siting for potential plants, I think this is mainly going along with the conventional idea of water-cooled reactors which would face the lowest FOAK costs, but also that our 5 major population centres are coastal. We have numerous semi-remediated industrial sites that could be assessed for suitability.

    AFAIK the large coal fired generators that will start being retired next decade are largely sited at coal fields. Brownfield conversion to modern nuclear should certainly be assessed but I don’t know how much existing infrastructure, apart from poles and lines, could be recycle. The large coal station in my state is an unusual case being on the edge of a large gulf – a potentially ideal location for a proven reactor as has already been studied:

    As for just heading down the rabbit hole and proceeding to something like the IFR, we have room nearly anywhere.

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