The Department of Energy has recently requested proposals for the development of alloys that will sustain the harsh environment of a nuclear reactor. The reason for this request results from a Nuclear Energy Road Map that was recently presented to Congress for approval. There are many reasons for this program to proceed. Our current reactors are at the limit of their life and extending service is expensive. Current reactor designs have shown that large on-site reactors as replacements cannot possibly compete with low cost, abundant natural gas and other hydrocarbon fuels. However, in a green society, hydrocarbon fuels are considered a threat to the ozone layer.
Therefore a different approach offers a possibility to resolve the issue of expense of new reactors and the emissions problems associated with fossil fuels. There are approximately six designs of these new concept reactors. However, all have been generated using computer modeling and have not been tried using real world technology.
The new designs operate under the concept of the Brayton cycle as opposed to the conventional Carno Cycle. Unfortunately the Brayton Cycle, for most efficient operation, experiences temperatures as high as 1600F (870C). The first problem encountered is what materials can be used at these temperatures that will satisfy current pressure codes. So far two alloys have been identified as probable materials. Both are Haynes nickel based alloys with high chromium, tungsten and cobalt additions.We have studied the properties of Haynes Alloy 230 and believe that our patented processes can assist the alloys to overcome the problems of high temperature creep, hot corrosion and radiation effects, as well as possibly strengthening the core properties. We therefore have submitted a proposal to develop or modify this alloy to satisfy the current requirement. This is the first step in proving the worth of development of Generation IV nuclear reactors.
If MagnaTech or others can resolve the performance of the alloys to satisfy current pressure codes, then it is expected that the new type reactors would become commercial as early as 2030 or as late as 2050. If successful, then the advantages are that the reactor would be smaller, more efficient and built off-site. Also, at those temperatures the secondary heat could be used to make cheaper hydrogen to be used as an automotive fuel. Combining the two cost factors now make the cost of developing Generation IV reactors economical. MagnaTech looks forward to participating in the development of these new, more efficient economical, environmentally more friendly reactors to supply an ever increasing population that will require cleaner, more efficient, safe energy. MagnaTech would appreciate any input from readers who are interested in this area of development. We do need cleaner, cheaper more friendly fuels that do not increase greenhouse pollution. MagaTech would love to establish contact with all inetrested parties seeking material advances in alloy or design development within this area of research. MagnaTech appreciates your participation and awareness in this potentially revolutionary cleaner energy future.