The new generation of nuclear power plants that are being considered are simpler machines with features that depend on physics rather than automation to provide safety.
The new reactors designs that will be built in the US (and perhaps in countries like the UK, Japan, and China) are refined versions of the first and second generation plants that are now operating. There has been a great deal of effort put into reducing the number of components, the reliance on electrically powered safety systems, and in providing means of cooling that rely on physical principles like natural circulation instead of pumps.
One benefit of these new designs is to provide more time for operators to take action in unusual situations another is to reduce the cost of licensing, construction and operation.
Here are links to some of the sources that Shane and I used while we were preparing for the show and during our discussion.
We hope that you enjoy the show. New plants design experts – please help us correct any technical errors that you hear.