A BREAKTHROUGH FOR NUCLEAR ENERGY
The International Energy Agency estimates world energy demand will increase 65 percent by 2020. Nuclear power,according to The National Center for PolicyAnalysis, is a clean, practical alternative. To satisfy its increased demand, South Africa is planning a revolutionary 165-megawatt Pebble BedModular Reactor (PBMR). Built as multiple modules, these small,inexpensive nuclear plants can provide sufficient power for citiesand industry. Operating up to 900 C, the PBMR is 33 percent moreefficient than conventional plants. The hopper-like reactor isfilled with baseball sized graphite pebbles containing thousandsof UO-2 particles. The reaction is controlled with either graphitepebbles or rods. Heat, transferred to helium gas, flows to turbinesproducing electricity.Although more waste is produced than in conventional reactors,more fuel is consumed, resulting in a less fissionable material,with less volume, that is easier to control, transport or dispose,thus reducing nuclear weapons proliferation. Process heat can alsodesalinate sea water; produce hydrogen from water and petroleumfrom coal, oil shale and tar sands; and power refineries, chemicalplants and oil field recovery operations. PBMR technology,smaller, less expensive, cleaner and safer than conventionalnuclear reactors, has the potential to provide emerging nationswith cheap, abundant and reliable electricity. By reducingsecurity concerns associated with weaponization and proliferation,we hope PBMR technology will prove a major development in energy independence for the U.S. and our allies alike.