Former SpaceX engineers are building a cheap, portable nuclear reactor

Nuclear energy will be portable in the form of relatively light, cost-effective microreactors. A team of former SpaceX engineers is developing “the world’s first zero-emission portable energy source” that can supply energy to remote areas and also allow the rapid installation of new units in populated areas. press release revealed.

Last year, the team provided $ 1.2 million in funding from angel investors to launch Radiant to help develop portable nuclear microreactors that target both commercial and military applications.

Space technology adapted for colonies on Earth

We have previously reported floating nuclear power plants, such as those manufactured in Denmark Seaborg Technologies. The technology under development by Radiant brings a whole new dimension to the portability of a nuclear reactor.

Their microreactor, which is still in the prototype phase, produces more than 1MW, which Radiant says is enough to power approximately 1,000 homes for up to eight years. It can be easily transported by air, sea and road, which means that it will bring affordable energy to communities without easy access to renewable energy, which will allow them to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

Radiant founder and CEO Doug Bernauer is a former SpaceX engineer who worked to develop energy sources for a future colony on Mars during his time at the private space company. During his research on microreactors for Mars, he saw an opportunity to develop a flexible and affordable source of energy here on Earth, which led him to found Radiant with two other SpaceX engineers. In one interview with PowerBernauer said: “Many of the microreactors that are being developed have a fixed location. No one has [commercial] system still, so there is a kind of race to be first. “

Nuclear energy is on the way

Radiant announced last year that it had received two temporary patents for its portable nuclear reactor technology. One is for technology that reduces the cost and time required to charge the reactor, and the other improves the efficiency of heat transfer from the reactor core. The microreactor will use advanced particulate fuel that does not melt and is able to withstand higher temperatures than traditional nuclear fuels. Meanwhile, helium coolant reduces the risks of corrosion and contamination associated with traditional aqueous coolant. Radiant has signed a contract with the Battelle Energy Alliance to test its portable microreactor technology at its Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

“In some parts of the world, relying on diesel is unsustainable, and solar and wind energy are either inaccessible or impractical,” said Dr. Jess Gehin, chief scientist, INL’s Nuclear Sciences and Technology Directorate. “Clean, safe nuclear microreactors are emerging as the best alternative for these environments.”

The Radiant microreactor can be used in remote locations, such as Arctic villages and isolated military camps, which otherwise typically rely on fossil fuel generators. The portable microreactor is not only better for the environment, but also more practical, as it does not rely on a constant supply of fuel. Instead, the clean fuel used for Radiant microreactors can last more than 4 years. If all goes well with Radiant’s test campaign, nuclear power could soon be on the road. In this way, it will help feed countless remote communities and further strengthen it revival of nuclear energy in a world that needs clean energy solutions more than ever.

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