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Directory:Hyperion's Small-Scale Nuclear Reactors

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Page first featured: Nov. 11, 2008


Distributed Nuclear Module is Effectively a 'Large Battery'


Hyperion Power Modules (HPMs) are built and stocked with enough fuel to last five years generating a constant 27 megawatts, enough to power 20,000 average American homes. They are small enough to be transported by truck, train, or ship, and are setup and operable quickly. Just 1.5 meters across, the sealed module, which has no moving parts, is buried undeground. Then at the end of five years, they are returned to the manufacturer to be refueled. The modules are uniquely safe, self-moderating using a natural chemical reaction discovered 50 years ago. [1]

Invented at the famed Los Alamos National Laboratory, Hyperion small modular power reactors make all the benefits of safe, clean nuclear power available for remote locations. For both industrial and community applications, Hyperion offers reliable energy with no greenhouse gas emissions.

"This may not be a renewable energy technology, but it is likely to provide a key answer to our energy and grid problems with a distributed generation system that has no emissions, no carbon, and no use of fossil fuels, all at an extremely low cost, with more safety than any current source of nuclear power. An elegant solution, with NO moving parts, and easily built, delivered and installed virtually anywhere! The best from Los Alamos!" -- Jim Dunn, NEC (Nov. 11, 2008)

The company intends to deploy the first of the 4,000 units to be manufactured of the initial design by 2013. [2]

Contents

Official Website

How it Works

'Source: Hyperion website and Guardian.uk; Nov. 9, 2008

Hyperion Power Module (HPM) 

Think "nuclear battery". It is using uranium hydride (UH3) at a 10% level. Other materials used in the unit are considered "proprietary". (Per discussion with Hyperion on Nov. 11, 2008.)

The reactors, only a few metres in diameter, will be delivered on the back of a lorry to be buried underground. They must be refuelled every 7 to 10 years. Because the reactor is based on a 50-year-old design that has proved safe for students to use, few countries are expected to object to plants on their territory. An application to build the plants will be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission next year (2009). There are no moving parts.

Small enough to be transported on a ship, truck or train, Hyperion power modules are about the size of a "hot tub" — approximately 1.5 meters wide. Out of sight and safe from nefarious threats, Hyperion power modules are buried far underground and guarded by a security detail. Like a power battery, Hyperion modules have no moving parts to wear down, and are delivered factory sealed. They are never opened on site. Even if one were compromised, the material inside would not be appropriate for proliferation purposes. Further, due to the unique, yet proven science upon which this new technology is based, it is impossible for the module to go supercritical, “melt down” or create any type of emergency situation. If opened, the very small amount of fuel that is enclosed would immediately cool. The waste produced after five years of operation is approximately the size of a softball and is a good candidate for fuel recycling.

Perfect for moderately-sized projects, Hyperion produces only 25 MWe — enough to provide electricity for about 20,000 average American sized homes or its industrial equivalent. Ganged or teamed together, the modules can produce even more consistent energy for larger projects.

Like a battery, the HPM is a compact, transportable unit with no moving internal parts. It’s not to be opened once distributed from the factory. Once sited safely in its underground containment vessel, an HPM is monitored but does not require a battery of operational personnel.. It just quietly delivers safe, reliable power – 70 MW thermal or 25 MW electric via steam turbine – for a period of seven to 10 years.

The core of the HPM produces energy via a safe, natural heat-producing process that occurs with the oscillation of hydrogen in uranium hydride. HPMs cannot go “supercritical,” melt down, or get “too hot.” It maintains its safe, operating temperature without the introduction and removal of “cooling rods” – an operation that has the potential for mechanical failure.

A good bit bigger than the typical consumer battery, HPMs are, however, just a fraction of the size of conventional nuclear power plants. About 1.5 meters across, the units’ size can be compared to a deep residential hot tub. It’s the size, along with the transportability and ease of operation, that make the self-contained HPM such a desirable choice for providing consistent, reliable, affordable power in remote locations.

Often referred to as a “cartridge” reactor or “nuclear battery,” the Hyperion HyperDrive is self-regulating with no mechanical parts to break down or otherwise fail. The inherent properties of uranium hydride serve as both fuel and moderator providing unparalleled safety among nuclear reactors. Sealed at the factory, the module is not opened until it has been returned to the factory to be refueled, approximately every five years or so, depending on use. This containment, along with the strategy of completely burying the module at the operating site, protects against the possibility of human incompetence, or hostile tampering and proliferation.

The power-producing core of this module will be contained within multiple gas-tight chambers to insure absolute containment of all gases, along wth other contaminants in the unlikely event that a single chamber fails. Further, the module will be buried in the ground during its operational life. This will protect the module from almost all conceivable threats, natural or man-made, and make tampering extremely difficult. Additionally, active area security will be provided by the operator.

Unlike conventional designs, the proposed reactor is self-regulating through the inherent properties of uranium hydride, which serves as a combination fuel and moderator. The temperature-driven mobility of the hydrogen contained in the hydride controls the nuclear activity. If the core temperature increases over the set point, the hydrogen is driven out of the core, the moderation drops, and the power production decreases. If the temperature drops, the hydrogen returns and the process is reversed. Thus the design is inherently fail-safe and will require minimal human oversight. The compact nature and inherent safety open the possibility for low-cost mass production and operation of the reactors.

Requirements by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are considered the universal “gold standards” of safety. HPG has already had several meetings with the NRC and will continue to pursue the necessary design approvals and license to manufacture and operate Hyperion power modules.

Produces 70 MWt or 25 MWe.

Audio

Costs

10 cents per KW hour. Each neighborhood plant will cost $25 million USD for 10,000 household or $2500 per household.

Hyperion offers a 30% reduction in capital costs from conventional gigawatt reactor installations (from US$2,000 per kW to US$1,400 per kW). Hyperion also offers more than a 50% reduction in operating costs (based on costs for field-generation of steam in heavy oil recovery operations), from US$7 per million BTU for natural gas to US$3 per million BTU for Hyperion. The possibility of mass production, operation and standardization of design for the Hyperion power module allows for significant savings.

Advantages

  • Regardless of the weather, nuclear-based power plants can produce base load electricity 24/7 with no greenhouse-gas emissions.
  • No greenhouse gases or global warming emissions
  • Clean power.
  • Underground.
  • No moving parts.
  • No weapons-grade fissile materials produced.
  • Water not used as coolant; cannot go “supercritical” or get too hot.
  • Can be used as a portable power generator.

Applications

  • Communities of 20,000 per unit that can use 25 MWe of power.
  • Industrial, such as oil shale and sands drilling and processing.
  • U.S. Military facilities.
  • Primary power for small remote communities in developing nations, including water pumping and processing.

Independent Testing

Developed at Los Alamos National Laboratories

Patents

LANL license.

Profiles

Company: Hyperion Power Generation, Inc.

Hyperion Power Generation, Inc. (HPG) was formed to bring to market the unique Hyperion (formerly Comstar) small, modular, non-weapons grade nuclear power reactor invented by Dr. Otis “Pete” Peterson at the United States’ famed Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico. Through the commercialization program at LANL’s Technology Transfer Division, HPG was awarded the exclusive license to utilize the intellectual property and develop a product that will benefit the U.S. economy and global society as a whole.

Hyperion Power Generation, Inc. (HPG) is a private company and has all the capital needed for the current development phase of Hyperion. However, additional rounds of funding opportunities will be announced in the future. HPG will seek investment from firms and investors that can “add value” to the project beyond the infusion of cash (i.e., help advance Hyperion into the market).

The Hyperion project has been funded thus far by Denver-based Altira Group, one of the nation’s premier venture capital funds focused on alternative energy technologies, and by private individual investors.

Santa Fe-based Purple Mountain Ventures, Inc. is supplying management services and personnel for Hyperion Power Generation.

John Grizz CEO


Inventor: Dr. Otis Peterson

Hyperion was invented by award-winning LANL scientist Dr. Otis Peterson while he was employed full-time by Los Alamos National Laboratory. Under the Technology Transfer program for U.S. national laboratories, LANL will continue to own intellectual property relating to the Hyperion technology, but the rights to commercialization (introduction, manufacturing, licensing, production, marketing, and sales) of the product resulting from Dr. Peterson’s invention are held by Hyperion Power Generation, Inc., (HPG) a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based corporation. HPG is paying for the license to the rights to the intellectual property known as Hyperion (aka Comstar). HPG is also funding further research and engineering of the technology for Hyperion at LANL.

Coverage

Television

  • Hyperion on CNN (Nov. 10) and BBC TV (Nov. 9) - Correction statements from Hyperion. "We intend to deploy the first of the 4,000 units to be manufactured of the initial design within FIVE years, not ten. Also, Hyperion is not designed to be placed in the typical American “back yard.” Its 27 MW electric is designed to power a 20,000-home community, a military installation, bring energy to a disaster zone, or provide power for mining operations. Hyperion is too powerful for individual residential use..."

In the News

  • Nuclear >
    Is small the future of nuclear power generation? - Hyperion, which calls its reactor a "nuclear battery," licensed the technology from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. It plans to sell the reactor for about $30 million (U.S.) and says there's potential to sell 4,000 of them around the world by 2025. (The Star; Jan. 5, 2009)
  • Mini nuclear plants to power 20,000 homes - The US government has licensed the technology to Hyperion, a New Mexico-based company which said last week that it has taken its first firm orders and plans to start mass production within five years. (Guardian.uk; Nov. 9, 2008)
  • Hyperion Power Generation and the Nuclear Power Module - Hyperion is already taking orders and will be delivering in five years. The nuclear battery, or as Hyperion Power Generation calls it the nuclear power module, is based on mature technology developed by the Los Alamos Laboratory. (Associated Content; Nov. 9, 2008)
  • New Small, Transportable Nuclear "Battery" from Hyperion Power Generation to be presented... - Members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have an opportunity to learn about Hyperion Power Generation's (HPG) unique, small, nuclear power module firsthand from the company's CEO at the 52nd General Conference September 29-October 3. John R. Grizz Deal, CEO and James Jones, director of business development, will personally staff an exhibit at the IAEA's annual conference in Vienna, Austria. (Reuters; Sept. 9, 2008)
  • First Customer for Hyperion Nuclear Batteries - TES Group has signed a “Letter of Intent" to purchase six Hyperion Power nuclear modules, with delivery scheduled for the year 2013. Hyperion claims the devices are safer than traditional nuclear reactors, are cheaper, easier to deploy, quicker to get built and can reach remote areas where traditional reactors can’t be built. (Earth2Tech; Aug. 12, 2008)
  • Portable Nuclear Battery in the Development Stages - A portable nuclear reactor by Hyperion Power Generation, which is about the size of a hot tub, could power up to 25,000 homes. The generator, which would produce 27 megawatts worth of thermal energy, is self-contained, involves no moving parts, is more like a battery. (Santa Fe Reporter; Nov. 21, 2007) (See Slashdot discussion) [Still produces hot radioactive waste.]

Comments

See Discussion page

"As I have pointed out ... the mining of uranium is far worse a problem than the use in a reactor. I am not voting because I don't believe this kind of approach should be on our site at all. In Northern Ontario Canada where I used to live the mine tailings which represent a ground up mountain are left in piles where the rain washes the non-uranium but highly radioactive materials like radium down into the ground water. Extreme pollution exists along the snake river near Blind River Ontario. There are radiation signs along the river every 20 feet. This area is seriously polluted and will remain so for hundreds of thousands if not millions of years.
Nuclear power trades extreme local pollution for clean power elsewhere.
It is not a viable solution at all."

Ian Soutar

Contact

Hyperion Power Generation 
69 Montezuma Avenue
Suite 508
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Phone: +1 (505) 216-9130 (USA)
E-Mail: info@hyperionpowergeneration.com
Point of Contact 
Cody Pearson
E-Mail: cody@hyperionpowergeneration.com


See also

NUCLEAR FOOTER

TYPES OF REACTORS

NUCLEAR WASTE

SPECIFIC PROJECTS

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