A promising new form of nuclear power that evolved in part from research more than a decade ago at Oregon State University has received a significant boost: up to $226 million in funding to NuScale Power from the U.S. Department of Energy. NuScale began as a spinoff company based on the pioneering research of OSU professor Jose Reyes. It has become one of the international leaders in the creation of small “modular” nuclear reactors. (See “Power Surge,” Terra, spring 2009)
Using proven light water reactor (LWR) technology, the NuScale Power Module is cooled by natural circulation, is entirely self-contained and installed underwater and underground to maximize safety. It is the only nuclear plant design in the world that can withstand a station blackout event and self-cool indefinitely with no operator action, no additional water and no AC or DC power.
This technology holds enormous promise for developing nuclear power with small reactors that can minimize investment costs, improve safety, provide flexibility in meeting power demands and produce energy without greenhouse gas emissions.