If this is for real… Anyone have more info on this?

Toshiba Builds 100x Smaller Micro Nuclear Reactor
Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.

The 200 kilowatt Toshiba designed reactor is engineered to be fail-safe and totally automatic and will not overheat. Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy.

Toshiba expects to install the first reactor in Japan in 2008 and to begin marketing the new system in Europe and America in 2009.



  1. Hate that I can’t type without typos. In the above:

    portal -=> portable
    current plans -=> current PLANTS

    also, remember there is always Fusion Energy. Its “The Energy of the Future” and it always will be.

  2. Alien Invader says:

    I’m just curious how much one of these would cost.
    It’d be a perfect way to disconnect from the system.

  3. @32 — If you have to ask, you can’t afford one, but then, you couldn’t afford to use 200kw continuously at your house either.

    Now, if you and say, 20 neighbors got together…based on the estimates here of around 3.5 million dollars over 40 year lifespan — You could go to a lot of trouble to get a 365 dollar a month electric bill.

    Of course, that assumes no pooling, and that you have 20 people using 10kw all the time. That’s why it isn’t sensible unless you do this as a sort of local-grid among neighborhoods. Done that way, you could probably increase the pool by about 1/3 and thus cut the bill by the same.

    Still, it makes more sense to me to spend the 3.5 million plus another say, 1 million and end up with a self-supplying hyrodrogen fuel filling station that would last 40 years.

    At the end of the day, nuke plants are the only currently workable, sensible, cost effective solution to providing energy on the grid at scale and with manageable (note I did not say zero) waste.

    Until we figure out how to quickly and cheaply drill really deep holes in the ground (like miles deep) to get into the really hot, yummy, geothermal stuff –not the wimpy boiling water kind but the good gooey red stuff) while at the same time doing it in a way that doesn’t have the side effect of say, turning out major cities into new volcanoes, I think we’re going to have to stick with Fission power.

    Of course, as I said, never forget Fusion. “The Energy of the Future” — and always will be.

  4. zoredache says:

    }} 8 Dugger said, on December 18th, 2007 at 7:42 am
    }}
    }}I wonder what would happen if I hook this thing up to my new flux capacit

    Obviously nothing will happen because you need 1.21 Gigawatts, and the reactor is only 200kwatts.

  5. ECA says:

    2 points..
    Price?
    Disposal and decom costs at the end of 40 years.

    But the idea of hooking up 10-15 OTHER people on the system would be cool, and charge a $20 per month fee.
    $300x12x40??= $144,000
    NO ARC WEILDERS

  6. TVAddict says:

    I like the idea of buying it for a subdivision/neighborhood and supplying the energy needs of the attached homes and using whatever is left to create hydrogen that could be sold on the market to offset the cost. Of course you could also sell the unused energy back to local utility too. Of course there is that pesky cleanup issue in 40 years…Let the kids worry about that along with the trade deficit, the social security deficit, global warming, carbon sequestration, etc….

  7. Lewy says:

    Note that the cost of diesel to power generators in Galena, Alaska, where one of these is planned, is 28 cents per kwh. Not counting the cost of the generators or maintnance. A nickel per kwh is kind of a major improvement.

  8. Greg Allen says:

    >>> Shubee said, When nuclear reactors are outlawed, then only outlaws will have nuclear reactors.

    Seriously.

    I never have heard the “right to bear arm” crowd explain this to my satisfaction.

    If they take the Second Amendment so literalist and absolutely, why does it apply to only small arms?

    Why not all forms of “arms”? Why not SAMs, anthrax bombs and nukes?

  9. tallwookie says:

    #34 – LOL!!! nice

  10. Bob says:

    Greg Allen- LOL.

    ‘right to bear arm’ crowd = supporters of the constitution of the US.

    You rock.

    BTW, there are limits on all of our other ‘rights’, incl. speech, free assembly, voting, etc. Your claim that the 2d amendment begs an argument ad absurdem and is therefore somehow nonexistent or bad is just thoughtless.

  11. Greg Allen says:

    Bob,

    I’m not clear how my question makes me thoughtless. Track with me, here:

    The gun lobby claims that the Second Amendment grants an ABSOLUTE right to bear arms.

    If it’s so absolute, how come I can’t have the nuke I’ve been building in my basement? [KIDDING CIA! I'm really a pacifist!]

    If we can agree that the Second Amendment is NOT
    ABSOLUTE and some arms can be limited, then the discussion is where the limits are. Not the constitutionality of limits.

    I say we should put the limits at long barrel, single-shot hunting weapons. Everything more lethal needs a special permit.

  12. Brian Wang says:

    This reactor is not the same as the Toshiba 4S reactor.

    http://advancednano.blogspot.com/2007/12/micro-and-small-nuclear-reactors.html

    This reactor is a small-scale design developed by Toshiba Corporation in cooperation with Japan’s Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) and funded by the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI).

    It is the 5 MWt, 200 kWe Rapid-L, using lithium-6 (a liquid neutron poison) as a control medium. It would have 2700 fuel pins of 40-50% enriched uranium nitride with 2600°C melting point integrated into a disposable cartridge. The reactivity control system is passive, using lithium expansion modules (LEM) which give burnup compensation, partial load operation as well as negative reactivity feedback. As the reactor temperature rises, the lithium expands into the core, displacing an inert gas. Other kinds of lithium modules, also integrated into the fuel cartridge, shut down and start up the nuclear reactor. Cooling is by molten sodium, and with the LEM control system, reactor power is proportional to primary coolant flow rate. Refuelling would be every 10 years in an inert gas environment. Operation would require no skill, due to the inherent safety design features. The whole plant would be about 6.5 meters high and 2 meters in diameter.

    This information is from Hore-Lacy, Ian (Lead Author); Cutler J. Cleveland (Topic Editor). 2006. “Small nuclear power reactors.” In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). [Published in the Encyclopedia of Earth September 4, 2006; Retrieved December 19, 2007].

    It is not the same as the toshiba 4s reactor which has 50 times higher generation capacity.

    http://www.eoearth.org/article/Small_nuclear_power_reactors#Liquid_Metal_cooled_Fast_Reactors

  13. bob says:

    The question IS where the line should be drawn. Without impinging on the basic right. Who disagrees with that? Your question is thoughtless because it attacks a straw man. None of our ABSOLUTE rights are absolute, as I said above. Can’t yell fire in a crowded theater despite our right to free speech, can’t hold a parade without a permit despite our freedom to assemble and right of free association, etc., etc. The right to bear arms is no exception. We are ALWAYS squabbling over where to draw the line.

    Your question DOES NOT further your position except against an argument no one makes.

    I want hollow-point bullets in a handgun, because the police CANNOT protect me in my home, and because home defense is a reasonable use of my right to bear arms. I want the same for my neighbor, because I do not want him to be forced to depend on the police, and I don’t want his stray bullets to pass through his house and into mine.

    I’m not worried that my neighbor will be careless with his gun, any more than I am worried that he will be careless with the gas main or the electricity in his house or on the poles along our shared street or his car. Any of those dangers might cause him or me harm, granted. We simply accept that level of dangerousness in our fellow man, because otherwise we cannot associate with each other Humans are intrinsically dangerous, now and always.

    I also think assault weapons are reasonable under the 2d amendment. And highly accurate scopes on long range heavy rifles, single shot or not. It’s not intrinsically dangerous to allow private ownership of assault weapons. Just look at the Swiss: http://www.guncite.com/swissgun.html

    I do not think a mortar is proper under the 2d amendment. Or land mines or other booby traps. Or flame throwers, or biological weapons, or high explosives, or ballistic missiles, or depleted uranium ammunition.

    The issue is and HAS BEEN what is reasonable under the 2d amendment. No one, including the NRA, is seeking to legalize private possession of surface-to-air missiles.

    btw, I faulted your argument, not you- I’m sure you’re a very thoughtful person. And I do laugh but also seriously appreciate the clarity you provide by separating yourself from the ‘right to bear arms’ crowd.

  14. Phillep says:

    Greg, who do you think makes bombs? The government? Nope. Nukes are made by private companies and sold to the feds, so you could say they are already in “private hands”. We can say the same thing about Anthrax bombs and Surface to Air missiles.

    BTW, if heavy weapons in private hands are such a problem, then why weren’t there problems back before 1968 when the feds outlawed people buying heavy weapons without any sort of government permission? The only limitation the Post Office put on shipping guns or ammo (normal type) was related to size and weight.

  15. Greg, Bob — you know what really ticks me off about the whole thing? Its that you two bunes can’t be bothered to go find a hotel room somewhere and take your debate to somewhere it is welcome. It has no place in the comments of someone else’s blog at all, let along when the story in this case has nothing to do with it.

    You both need to grow up. Oh, and yea, I have an opinion on your subject, but I’m not going to go blasting it out to people who don’t want to hear it.

    I think you both should go get blogs of your own.

  16. zerotsm says:

    The right to keep and bear arms. “Bear” is the operative word, meaning that the weapon has to be something that one person can pick up and hold. So that rules out atomic bombs, or even conventional bombs for that matter.

    True, one person can pick up and hold a RPG launcher, but as has been stated, I don’t think that even the most radical gun groups advocate the private possession of such “destructive devices”.

  17. John Wheeler says:

    This is real, and the technology behind it is already available. The biggest obstacle is NOT the safety or the technology – it’s the US NRC licensing process for new designs, and the uninformed anti-nuclear activists and politicians. If Toshiba can get a few these babies running in Japan, it will make it easier to license in the USA.

    BTW: I am an engineer and a former nuclear plant reactor operator (Plant Engineer qualified on a Navy Reactor, and held a US NRC Senior Reactor Operator licenses on two commercial reactors).

  18. Rod Adams says:

    The Toshiba tiny reactor technology is real and interesting. Though many “tech” readers know of Toshiba as a flash media or laptop producer, it is also the current owner of Westinghouse and the builders of large boiling water reactors based on GE technology.

    The idea of neighborhood or village sized atomic power plants is not new, however.

    The US Army had an extensive program of building, testing and operating small nuclear power plants in remote locations very close to people during the late 1950s through the early 1970s. They built reactors that operated in Greenland, Alaska, Antarctica and even just outside the Washington, DC area at Ft. Belvoir. One of the Army reactors, the ML-1 was designed for airlift movement to remote communications stations – that plant produced 200 kw of electrical power. (Google ML-1 to learn more.)

    Since most individual homes use less than 10 kw at peak and have average demand of under 2 kw, a 200 kw electric power plant can supply the needs of 20-40 American homes. It can also supply a small factory or a large department store. If it operates at 80% capacity factor, it can produce 1.4 million kilowatt-hours per year. In some parts of the US, the value of that production would be on the order of $250-400,000. In addition, there would be heat available as a natural by-product that would have some value.

    My company – Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. has been working on simplified atomic fission power generators for about 15 years. We happen to be focused on a market where the power demands are a bit larger than 200 kw, but we have not ruled out the possibility of smaller machines that the ones that we plan to introduce within the next 5-7 years.

    As John Wheeler pointed out, the challenge is not the technology. Nuclear fission is well understood and pretty amazing stuff. There are already submarine power plants that come complete with a 33 year fuel supply – just imagine how great it would be to be able to invest in such a power system for your town. No more worries about your carbon footprint or your vulnerability to weather, coal mine collapses or oil spills.

    Aside – if John Dvorak would ask his buddy Adam Curry about backyard nukes, he might find out some interesting tidbits about the potential for the technology. Alternatively, you could simply Google “backyard nukes”

  19. I think MikeR (post #11) hit the cost on the money. A little over $3 million per unit. If you think about it, it would have to cost an inordinate amount from both the engineering and the materials perspective.

    But it pays for itself!

  20. Ed says:

    Isn’t solar about the same price?

  21. bigbollocks2 says:

    Hmmm, if you used the excess energy to produce hydrogen fuel, you should have enough to run your house, your vehicles, and sell some back into the grid. I’ll take 2.

  22. Mray says:

    It seems to me that micronukes could be one of the best ways of providing decentralized modular energy generation. Mounting the plant on barges, railroad cars or standardized containers would make moving units for reprocessing routine, and the excess power could easily crack hydrogen.
    My favorite energy technology is the focus fuson concept championed by Eric Lerner. See http://focusfusion.org/log/index.php and watch his presentation to Google.

  23. Dave Bath says:

    I too thought it was a joke until I saw this at the US doe.gov site