Friday, December 12, 2008

A Mini Nuclear Power Generator

For only $25 million (and a 5-year wait) you can get a sealed concrete block the size of a household refrigerator that gets buried in the ground and heats its surface to 500 degree Fahrenheit for many years. It is sealed at the factory; there is no servicing needed or any reason to open it--ever. It has no moving parts and, if it is ever dismantled, it has a radioactive residue to dispose of that is about the size of a quart jar; a radioactive residue of the kind that is readily reprocessed.

This mini nuclear generator is non-polluting (it has no emissions). It never requires fuel to be added. It takes no land (a house can be built or a field of crops grown right over it). It churns out heat regardless of whether or not the Sun is shining or the wind is blowing. It cannot go supercritical (explode) or "melt down"; it has no components worth stealing--none that would be useful for making a nuclear bomb. And it is entirely autonomous--it can be located in a desolate jungle, a remote desert, or on a small ocean island far from civilization.

You can boil water (even dirty, contaminated water or seawater) by running it over the surface of the block, and then use the steam to run an electric generator or condense it to obtain clean, fresh water. If used to generate electricity, it can produce 25 MWe--enough to provide electricity for about 20,000 average-size American homes or the industrial equivalent.

The science for this remarkable unit was confirmed and the engineering requirements designed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The company that markets it is named Hyperion; they call it the Hyperion Power Module.

So if you have $25 million dollars lying around that you don't know what to do with, why not buy one of these units for a downtrodden, rural, third-world neighborhood? They'll be glad you did.