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Institute for Space and Nuclear Power Studies

Nuclear alternatives

A Very Fast, Very Safe, Very SLIMM Nuclear Reactor

One of the latest to emerge is the SLIMM – the Scalable LIquid Metal–cooled small Modular reactor. This is a fast reactor that uses liquid sodium (Na) to cool and exchange heat, and that generates 10 to 100 MW for many years, even decades, without refueling, depending on what power level is desired. It’s very smaller version, the VSLIMM, generates 1 to 10 MW.

Its designers, Drs. Mohamed S. El-Genk, Luis Palomino and Timothy Schriener from the University of New Mexico’s Institute for Space and Nuclear Power Studies in Albuquerque, describe it thus:

"Fully passive operation with no single point failure, cooled by natural circulation of sodium during operation and after shutdown, high negative temperature reactivity feedback and redundant control and safety shutdown, walk-away safe, long life without refueling, factory fabricated, assembled and sealed, shipped to the construction site by rail, truck, or barge, installed below ground to avoid direct impact by missiles or aircraft, and mounted on seismic oscillation bearings to resist earthquakes.”

The reactor has redundant and passive decay heat removal by heat pipes and natural circulation of ambient air.

In other words, it can’t melt down, is cheap to construct and only needs ordinary outside air to cool off if it does shut down quickly for any reason. With Na’s very low vapor pressure, the reactor operates below atmospheric pressure so there is no pressure vessel to worry about.
     — James Conca

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