The military needs portable power sources for their advanced, remote bases. Using fuel to power generators is costly and produces many logistic issues. To solve this problem, the military is researching the concept of modular, mini nuclear-fission-reactors.
This development could also, at some point, empower more remote communities to have a reliable, cost-effective, resource-lean source for power as well.
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The Defense Science Board has a 99 page report which proposes that the US military fund the development of very small nuclear reactors for forward remote operating bases.
The Task Force reviewed several nuclear reactor concepts that differ in size and technology from conventional commercial reactors and the small modular reactor (SMR) concepts currently under development for commercial use. Some of these reactors, very small modular reactors (vSMRs) with an output less than 10 MWe (megawatts-electric), may be transportable and deployable in FOB, ROB, and expeditionary force situations, and could eliminate the need for logistics fuel otherwise dedicated to producing electrical power.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, between 70%7 and 90% of the volume of goods delivered to forward bases and expeditionary forces were accounted for by fuel and (to a lesser extent) water.
Costs of up to $400 per gallon of fuel have been reported in the media for air-dropped fuel, though the FBCE of truck-delivered fuel during combat is more typically reported to be between $10 and $50 per gallon.
The Task Force found two of the concepts more technically mature than the others. The first is LANL’s MegaPower Reactor System and the other is Filippone and Associates LLC’s “Holos” Gas-cooled Hardened Micro Modular Reactor.
One vSMR concept being developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), which the Task Force reviewed, is the “MegaPower” reactor [Patent No. US 20160027536 A1].
Mobile heat pipe cooled fast reactor system US 20160027536 A1
A mobile heat pipe cooled fast nuclear reactor may be configured for transportation to remote locations and may be able to provide 0.5 to 2 megawatts of power. The mobile heat pipe cooled fast reactor may contain a plurality of heat pipes that are proximate to a plurality of fuel pins inside the reactor. The plurality of heat pipes may extend out of the reactor. The reactor may be configured to be placed in a standard shipping container, and may further be configured to be contained within a cask and attached to a skid for easier transportation.
Transportable very small modular nuclear fission reactors for military and other applications