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  1. I’ve been following this site (and other nuclear innovation related sites) for quite some time.
    Many good ideas are presented in the realm of technology, but one idea (somewhat outside of technology) has been very well presented on this site: the inherent superiority of small plants over large ones.
    While large ones can benefit from “economy of scale” per UNIT, the economy of scale inherent in a “production run” is also valuable.
    Moreover, smaller plants can feasibly have a prototype.
    Anyway, I am glad to see that that aspect of nuclear energy development is on the agenda.

    1. @Rick Armknecht

      Your insight and comments are Spot-On. If indeed the size of some of the GEN IV Nuclear Reactors can be small enough to be modularly built in a factory setting it could indeed contribute to higher quality and lower cost.

      Having been involved in electronic and electro-mechanical manufacturing for the automobile industry beginning in the late 70’s I participated in the catharsis of the American automotive industry as the Japanese and Germans produced higher quality, more fuel efficient and in many cases lower cost cars. The need for change was evident.

      Enter W. Edwards Demming and Joseph Juran and the adoption of Statistical Process Control (SPC) to American automotive manufacturing. Demming had successfully introduced the principles, practices and techniques of SPC, initially developed by physicist, engineer and statistician Walter Andrew Shewhart, to Japan with great success resulting in the Demming Award being the highest accolade for Quality Manufacturing in Japan.

      The use of Pareto Analysis, Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Significant Characteristics Analysis to name only a few of the techniques of SPC, lead to a renaissance in American automotive. Tremendous quality improvements and cost containment resulted in products that were world class and competitive. There were, of course, structural financial burdens such as UAW contracts and legacy costs which were not addressed for some years, but that’s outside the realm of SPC.

      Being small, standardized and modularly built in a factory setting is NO GUARANTEE that quality would be improved or costs reduced but it provides an environment in which SPC can thrive and thus provide those guarantees. Let’s hope the physicists, engineers and managers in Nuclear heed the lessons taught to Automotive by Demming and Shewhart.

    1. Fritz Haber was a genius who gave the world bread from the air.
      His life also presents a very poignant study in the ethical use of science and concomitant personal tragedy.

      1. Its stunning. A weird, wonderful and tragic mix – on several layers and from multiple perspectives.

        1. “When the Nazis took power in the 1930s, however, none of this outweighed his Jewish roots.

          Stripped of his job and kicked out of the country, Haber died, in a Swiss hotel, a broken man. ”

          I’ve been told many times that it ain’t whatcha know, it’s who ya know. This is another extreme example.

          Back to the main article. Are the massive requirements that now apply to the huge nuclear plants going to apply to these proposed smaller plants? Will they have to spend the 5 million dollars that was noted in a previous Atomic Insights post? Could they be largely be remote controlled with roving maintenance and operation crews that could handle multiple sites?

  2. My understanding is the costs are being evaluated for scaling down, based upon the inherent design features for many of these new types of Rx. Clearly, the same level of security should not be required if the plants are designed appropriately to incorporate the safety/security interface (Rx modules underground, passive safety features, fuel types, etc.). If we haven’t learned to require some realism from this go-around with the current LWR/BWR generation, we have no one to blame but ourselves if these advanced concepts don’t succeed.

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