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Posts Tagged ‘Hyperion Power’


Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

March 23, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Despite the general pause over nuclear energy as a result of the Fukushima crisis, some analysts believe the end result may be to bring small modular reactors to the fore.
“As improbable as it may sound amid the devastation in northeastern Japan, the nuclear accident may increase the appeal of innovative, small-scale reactors,” Chris Gadomski, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst in San Francisco, tells Bloomberg News. “We’re seeing a knee-jerk reaction saying, ‘get rid of nuclear,’ but that’s not going to happen in the long run,” he says. “There is no other good solution if you want to decarbonize the energy sector. As far as small reactors go, these events in Japan will strengthen their hand as opposed to weakening it.”
Although SMRs are getting a lot of good press lately, including a feature-length article in The American Spectator this month,   the finances have not been good. Paul Lorenzini, CEO of NuScale, announced this week that his company would be making layoffs soon if it could not get further financing.
NuScale’s 45-MW reactor would sell for only $200 million and would allow utilities to add power in small increments without betting the company on a $10-billion project. Hyperion Power Generation is offering an even smaller 25-MW reactor for $50 million. The article also cites TerraPower’s 500-MW Traveling Wave Reactor but also notes that Russia is making rapid progress with 35-MW reactor it is mounting on barges. The big surprise is that Argentina is also clearing the ground for a 25-MW experimental prototype it hopes to begin in 2014.
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has said that SMRs represent the U.S.’s last big chance to get back in the game on world reactor construction.

Read more about it at Bloomberg



Monday, November 15th, 2010

November 15, 2010
Nuclear Townhall

Hyperion Power, the New Mexico designer of a 65-megawatt small modular reactor, has signed an agreement with Lloyd’s Register of Ships and Greek-owned Enterprises Shipping and Trade to try to develop a nuclear-powered, ocean-going commercial vessel

“We are enthusiastic about participating in the historic opportunity," said John R. ‘Grizz’ Deal, the CEO of Hyperion. “This is a truly groundbreaking effort.” 

"This a very exciting project," echoed Richard Sadler, CEO of Lloyd’s Register. "As society recognizes the limited choices that are available in a low carbon, oil-scarce economy we will see nuclear ships sooner than many currently anticipate." 

The agreement was signed this morning in the Athens offices of Enterprise Shipping and Trading. “We are extremely honored and proud to be part of this consortium at this historic event,” said Victor Restis, CEO of the Restis Group, which owns Enterprise. “We strongly believe that alternative power generation is the answer for the shipping transportation.” 

Nuclear engines have powered submarines for 50 years and aircraft carriers for the last 25. On the other hand, makers of commercial reactors have concentrated on large power plants. In the past decade, however, almost a dozen small companies around the world have started development of small modular reactors in the 25-to-150-megawatt range.

Because of the tremendous success of ocean-going military vessels, it seemed logical that someone would eventually propose using nuclear engines in commercial vessels as well. "Nuclear propulsion offers the opportunity for an emissions-free alternative to fossil fuel, while delivering ancillary benefits and security to the maritime industry," said Dr Phil Thompson, Sector Director for Transport of the BMT Group, a British company that is the fourth member of the consortium. "We look forward to providing a framework for the introduction of safe and reliable SMRs into the civilian maritime environment.” 

Hyperion, founded in 2005, is based on the work of Dr. Otis Peterson, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists who invented a small, 65-MW reactor in the lab. The Hyperion SMR is still the intellectual property of Los Alamos but Hyperion Power Generation, Inc. has a license to develop it commercially.

Grizz Deal, who was entrepreneur-in-residence at Los Alamos, has served as CEO since the founding. Hyperion has proposed using its 65-MW reactor as “building blocks” for flexibly built commercial power plants and for a variety of novel uses, such as purification of water, sewage treatment and powering remote mining and industrial facilities. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently met with Hyperion to discuss a licensing schedule. 

Lloyd’s Shipping Register  is not to be confused with Lloyd’s of London, the insurance giant, but draws its name from the same 18th century London coffeehouse where both were founded. Lloyd’s Register, in business for 250 years, is a maritime classification society and risk management organization that provides risk assessment, mitigation services and management systems certification. In the late 20th century, Lloyd’s Register diversified out of its tradition shipping interests and expanded into oil and gas and the nuclear and rail industries. 

Enterprise Shipping and Trading
  is one of Greece’s leading shipping firms, with 50 vessels, including reefers, container vessels, bulk carriers and tankers, in its fleet. The company is also involved in technical ship management services and new-building consultancy.           

BMT Nigel Gee, the other British participant, is a Southampton-based maritime architectural firm that has created designs for everything from yachts to naval craft to commercial vessels. 

The agreement provided ample evidence that American companies may still be able to participate in the breakout of nuclear development that is currently penetrating the globe. Although American companies have significant competition in baseload power plant technology, many people – including Secretary of Energy Steven Chu – believe that American enterprise and research ability may be able to create a market niche in smaller reactors.

“In addition to fitting the basic requirements for commercial naval propulsion,” said Grizz Deal, CEO of Hyperion, “the Hyperion Power Module may be able to set new standards for the use of nuclear power in maritime shipping.


Friday, October 22nd, 2010

“Disruptive technology” was a phrase that kept coming up at Infocast’s Small Modular Reactors Conference in Washington, DC this week.

The term was coined by Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen in his 1997 book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, in which he showed that even the innovators of new technology can hurt themselves by introducing it if they are already well established in the old technology. Therefore, new technologies are usually developed by newcomers in the field.
The description would seem to fit the U.S. Nuclear Renaissance at this moment. The proposals for small reactors are coming mostly from upstart companies such as NuScale, Hyperion, Advanced Reactor Concepts, Radix, TerraPower and a reincarnated Babcock & Wilcox, which has dropped out of the full-scale field. Meanwhile, the established companies – AREVA, Westinghouse, General Electric and General Atomics – are “keeping up with the Jones” at best.
But there is a new element to the equation – the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The limiting factor in any reactor development, old or new, in this country, at least, will be getting licensed by the NRC. The Commission’s time – which is subject to Congressional appropriations and dedicated to safety issues first – can be finite even at its pass-through rate to users of $260 hour.  And any effort spent on SMRs could logically be subtracted from time spent reviewing larger reactors. Thus, when Hyperion sat down with NRC officials earlier this month, the company was only adding to the Commission’s overload.

There won’t be any Apples or Netscapes upsetting the established order in the nuclear industry. Ultimately, along with securing customers, everything will depend on successfully navigating uncertain NRC regulatory regime waters over a five-year period at a minimum. In this department, established technologies will have an advantage, since, even more than major corporations, bureaucracies have trouble adjusting to innovation.
“I believe if the nuclear industry is going to succeed, we have to succeed as a whole,” said Gary Barbour, senior advisor for regulatory affairs at NuScale Power at the conference. In winning public acceptance, this is obviously true. But is there also a sibling rivalry?  Are big and small reactors partners or rivals?  Are small reactors and large reactors an either/or proposition for the industry or can the industry and the NRC multi-task?  Are small reactors an untimely distraction at a time when the Renaissance should be focused on consummating a spate of new large reactor deployments over this decade?




Friday, June 18th, 2010

Three months ago, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal arguing that, while the U.S. had dropped the ball on large reactor construction, we might find a niche in building mini-reactors.
Well he’d better tell it to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission because by the time the NRC gets around to licensing an American reactor the whole international market will be gone.
South Korea this week announced it will produce a 100-MW reactor designed for industrial sites and “distributed generation” and market it abroad, particularly to underdeveloped countries. The Koreans have already proved their mettle by entering the large reactor field only ten years ago and recently beating out Areva and Westinghouse for the $20-billion contract to build four reactors in the United Arab Emirates.
At the rate the Koreans do things, they’ll have a product ready for delivery in five years. At the rate we do things, in five years the NRC will be making preliminary plans to expand its staff in order to receive license applications. When Hyperion Power, the California company, brought a 70-MW reactor to the NRC two years ago, the bureaucrats told the company to go away – it didn’t have time for such small stuff.
One of these days somebody in Washington is going to have to realize we’re living in a competitive world.