Uranium hydride reactors could deliver cheap, local power

Next Big Future has an update on the uranium hydride reactor, which Hyperion, a startup company, is preparing to bring to market in 2012.  The reactor would be installed right where the power is needed, and would be fully contained with no serviceable parts, making it more akin to a battery than a reactor.

Hyperion advertises that its reactor should last 7-10 years and would cost $1400 per kilowatt during that time.  Taking the conservative 7-year duration, that works out to 2.28 cents per kilowatt-hour (or a little more if you take into account present value).  By comparison, I’m paying 8.41 cents per kilowatt-hour in Pittsburgh right now.

Their first installations will be at oil sand and oil shale facilities, where they hope their safety record will make people comfortable with installing them closer to home.

ASIDE: My understanding is that the hydrogen atoms in uranium hydride damp the neutrons, thereby slowing the fission reaction.  That’s bad for weapons but good for energy generation.

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