To Industrialize Africa : The Small, Pebble-Bed Modular Reactor Is Indispensable

re posted from                           EXECUTIVE INTELLIGENCE REVIEW

This article appears in the May 17, 2024 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

To Industrialize Africa

The Small, Pebble-Bed Modular Reactor Is Indispensable

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Industrialize Africa and the world! Chemical engineer Zak Medela in the TRISO nuclear fuel manufacturing facility in Pretoria, South Africa. TRISO is the form of fuel designed for pebble bed modular nuclear reactors.

May 9—Abundant, low-cost electricity will be the life-blood of the productive and happy Africa of tomorrow. The existing, small but growing flow of electricity is the “river” that will bring Africa to its tomorrow, and nuclear power will be indispensable to the rapid growth of this flow. It is also true everywhere in the world. Africans are increasingly realizing this, from South Africa and Zambia to Egypt and Algeria; from Ghana, Nigeria, and Niger to Kenya, Uganda, and others.

Technological apartheid has largely kept nuclear science and engineering out of Africa with the help of anti-nuclear propaganda. But now, Africa is becoming aware that nuclear power is the cheapest source of electricity, and very safe.[fn_1] To tap into nuclear, Africa is developing the scientific, engineering, and technical cadre for the construction and management of nuclear power plants.

Why Small ‘Modular’ Reactors?

A large power plant, with its economy of scale, is best for large urban areas or for a country that has a well-developed power grid, as well as a transportation network allowing the grid to be serviced easily. These enable the power plant to efficiently deliver its electricity to millions of users. But what if there are smaller, scattered populations in regions that have no grid or roads, or very poor ones—a common occurrence in Africa? That’s where smaller plants are better, instead of running long transmission lines through undeveloped land.

As such a region increasingly develops, it may be more economical to keep placing more small reactors of the same or very similar size and design in the same power station, than to establish new sites for entirely new power stations, or to place a much larger reactor of different design in the same site.

Such small reactors are called small “modular” reactors (SMRs) because they share infrastructure and personnel with a number of identical or nearly identical reactors at the same power station, and their parts and operational protocols are all very similar and interchangeable. Their smaller size means that more copies can be produced with the same investment in the reactor manufacturing plant, leading to more rapid accumulation of experience in all phases of the reactor life cycle, and the reactor cores (containing the fuel) can be shipped easily in one or two pieces to places where barges and extra-wide trucks, needed for large reactors, cannot go.

continue reading HERE: Source: EIR

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