Keywords: pebble bed reactors, nuclear safety, nuclear economics, modularity, PBMR, pebble bed modular reactors, nuclear plants, critical infrastructures, nuclear energy
A future for nuclear energy: pebble bed reactors
Pebble Bed Reactors could allow nuclear plants to support the goal of reducing global climate change in an energy hungry world. They are small, modular, inherently safe, use a demonstrated nuclear technology and can be competitive with fossil fuels. Pebble bed reactors are helium cooled reactors that use small tennis ball size fuel balls consisting of only 9 grams of uranium per pebble to provide a low power density reactor. The low power density and large graphite core provide inherent safety features such that the peak temperature reached even under the complete loss of coolant accident without any active emergency core cooling system is significantly below the temperature that the fuel melts. This feature should enhance public confidence in this nuclear technology. With advanced modularity principles, it is expected that this type of design and assembly could lower the cost of new nuclear plants removing a major impediment to deployment.