This innovative reactor uses TRISO pebbles for fuel and molten fluoride salt for coolant.
"'Kairos Power's singular objective for deploying the Hermes Reactor is to demonstrate the capability to deliver an advanced reactor at the costs necessary to make nuclear power the most affordable source of dispatchable electricity in the United States,' [the company] said on Thursday."
(For more on the Hermes Reactor, please see David B. Benson's comment on March 6, above.)
According to the journal article on which this story is based, the cost of electricity would be about 70 $/MWh. But for many applications there would be no delivery charge for the electricity, so the cost would be competitive. The reactor could also supply heat.
'nuclear batteries' [from] Massachusetts Institute of Technology ... for many applications there would be no delivery charge for the electricity
As a recent design for a nuclear battery it takes advantage of the recent perception that uranium fuel is cheap, so focuses on being dollar-efficient, rather than fuel-efficient. The long history of nuclear reactor design has been burdened by the perception that uranium is rare and expensive, or that enrichment is expensive. Neither is still true, as uranium has been found all over the world, including as byproduct in copper and phosphate ores. Enrichment is now done with centrifuges, and imminently by laser excitation. Fuel efficiency is no longer necessary in power plant designs.
The generator is a once-through, hot-air turbine. In common with the gas turbine, it has low thermal efficiency, but is responsive to sudden shifts in the load or renewables injection. In acknowledging the latter, the design has adapted to the current ideological environment where wind or solar provides virtue to its believers, and the grid is required to accept and level out the intermittent contribution. When placed alongside a wind farm, the combined output can supply the neighborhood with on-demand power up to 10 MW.
As a container-sized nuclear power plant, the plant is easily and rapidly installed on location at a factory or minesite. The article makes the point that the plant can provide 10 MW to its adjacent consumer without needing a 10 MVA connection to the trunk of the grid. After an early closure of its host, the plant is easily transported to a new location and customer.
It would be good to see a better diagram than the "artist's impression" supplied in Huon's link. In particular, responsiveness requires a heat store to store or provide instant heat whenever the reactor is creating or burning off excess xenon. Emergency cooling for scrams is not visible either.
Advanced nuclear for commercial [maritime] shipping is quite simply the closest to the 'silver bullet' we've ever been, both to solve the climate challenge and disrupt our industry at the same time. It has an inevitability to it. -- Mikal Boe, interview on World Nuclear News
Here are two interviews with Mikal Boe, one print and one podcast, about how to zero out emissions from maritime shipping. He's an engaging writer and speaker. The reactor Boe's company anticipates using is based on TerraPower's molten salt reactor.
What makes this announcement truly "game-changing and monumental" in the Governor's own words, is just how cost-effective and efficient converting a coal plant to advanced nuclear might be. According to the Polish study, retrofitting coal boilers with high-temperature small modular nuclear reactors as a way to decarbonize the plant can lower upfront capital costs by as much as 35% and reduce the levelized cost of electricity by as much as 28% when compared to a greenfield installation.