Nuclear start-up seeks to turn Britain’s waste plutonium into clean energy

Posted: June 21, 2022 by oldbrew in Energy, News, Nuclear power

Sellafield nuclear site, UK

Newcleo aims to build new small reactors that can consume spent fuel, although its designs are said to be at an early stage. The report states that ‘The UK has the largest civil plutonium stockpile in the world’. Units could be smaller SMR’s than Rolls-Royce plans to offer, and also sealed ones suitable for ships. Similar types of proposal have happened before, but seem to have fizzled out.
– – –
A nuclear power start-up is seeking to create clean energy out of 140 tonnes of waste plutonium stored in Cumbria as Britain scrambles to wean itself off fossil fuels, says the Daily Telegraph.

Newcleo hopes to use spent fuel deposited in Sellafield in a pioneering reactor design that will rival the small nuclear generators being developed by Rolls-Royce.

The proposals come as Boris Johnson seeks to usher in a nuclear revolution for Britain after vowing to triple capacity with eight additional reactors by 2050.

London-based Newcleo will probably put its first reactor on British soil because of a precedent for private operators of nuclear plants in the UK, according to Italian physicist Stefano Buono, chief executive.

It is understood to be keen to use plutonium stored at Sellafield but has not yet decided on a site for its first plant.

Mr Buono’s lead-cooled reactor models use a mix of uranium and plutonium, which is a waste product of existing plants in the UK.

Full article here.

  1. Graeme No.3 says:

    What part of London are they based in? The financial district?

  2. Phoenix44 says:

    “Wean itself off fossil fuels…”

    We are not children. We use fossil fuels because they are cheap, reliable, safe and energy dense.

  3. oldbrew says:

    Could nuclear desalination plants beat water scarcity?
    Published 1 day ago

    Unfortunately, although our planet is swathed by oceans and seas, only a tiny fraction of Earth’s water – about 2.5% – is fresh, and demand for drinking water is projected to exceed supply by trillions of cubic metres by 2030.

    Desalination plants, which remove the salt from seawater, could help supply the fresh water needed.

    However, these plants are considered among the most expensive ways of creating drinking water- as they pump large volumes across membranes at high pressure, which is an extremely energy intensive process.

    One radical solution could be using floating vessels equipped with desalination systems.

    Powered by nuclear reactors, these vessels could travel to islands, or coastlines, struck by drought, bringing with them both clean drinking water and power. [bold added]

  4. oldbrew says:

    Newcleo predicts 7-10 years for the mini reactor (30 MW) and 10-12 years for the 200 MW SMR.

  5. Graeme No.3 says:

    Australia has a number of desalination plants after Tim Flannery (sorry, Dr. Tim Flannery, former head Climate Commissioner) ‘spooked’ gullible politicians into building them.
    2004“There is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century’s first ghost metropolis.”
    2005 predicted “Sydney’s dams could be dry in as little as two years, leaving the city “facing extreme difficulties.”
    In 2007, he claimed: “In Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, water supplies are so low they need desalinated water urgently, possibly in as little as 18 months.”
    2007 said “global warming was so baking our Earth that even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems.”
    In 2008, he said: “Adelaide … may run out of water by early 2009.”
    “An almost permanent drought. Over the past 50 years southern Australia has lost about 20 per cent of its rainfall, and one cause is almost certainly global warming”, he claimed in 2007.
    Floods followed in Brisbane and Northen NSW. Sydney’s main dam released excess water to prevent collapse of the dam wall. Floods also there in the last 2 years.
    Adelaide did not run out of water, and didn’t run its desalination plant (except for a little (very little) time to meet Contractural requirements), although the associated diesel generators have been (reputably) very handy due to failure of renewables.
    I believe that the Perth plant has been run a bit but at some cost. Not sure about the Melbourne plant but then I am not sure Premier Andrews is sane.
    I am sure that a bid at the right price might get you a few plants cheaply.

  6. Peter Norman says:

    Ah! Plutonium utopia! A book by Kate Brown “Plutopia”: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford), explores the health of affected citizens near plants in the United States and Russia. Apparently these nuclear plants released more than 200 million curies of radioactive isotopes into the surrounding environment — twice the amount expelled in the Chernobyl disaster in each instance. I guess if you are going nuclear, plutonium would be the fuel/weapon of choice. I read somewhere that just one gram of plutonium 210 would poison/kill 10 million people.

  7. Gamecock says:

    . . . and a bathtub of water could drown a thousand people.

  8. Peter Norman says:

    Agreed. And you would be likely get planning for a bathtub suitable for drowning thousands? But getting planning for a plutonium nuke power plant? Simply ask your neighbours if they would be happy with the latter being built in your neighbourhood?

  9. Stephen Richards says:

    There is already a company selling LTSR reactors on ships. That seems the obvious route to go

  10. Gamecock says:

    Sorries. My browser can’t find what “LTSR reactors” means.

  11. […] Nuclear start-up seeks to turn Britain’s waste plutonium into clean energy […]

  12. oldbrew says:

    Rolls-Royce returns to Manchester, making city its SMR division HQ
    Business news
    June 22 2022

    Tom Samson, Rolls-Royce SMR’s chief executive, made the announcement during a stakeholder event in Manchester, where the company’s senior leadership team gave an update on the project to deploy a fleet of SMR power stations.

    Mr Samson said: “Rolls-Royce SMR is coming back to Manchester, where Charles Rolls and Henry Royce first met in 1904.

    “We’re growing as a company and, as we move at pace to build our SMR power stations in the UK, the time is right to set up our head office in this fantastic city.

    “We’re on target to recruit 850 people to work on this incredibly exciting project by the end of this year. As the UK’s domestic nuclear energy champion, we will play a vital role in providing clean, reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity for generations to come.”

    The new head office, at 11 York Street, will operate alongside Rolls-Royce SMR’s existing locations in Warrington and Derby.

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