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News Picks : Offshore nuclear power plant proposed

By: Physics Today
30 April 2014
Economist: The next wave of nuclear power plants may be found floating out at sea. At a recent symposium hosted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, participants discussed the benefits of locating nuclear reactors on floating platforms like those used for offshore oil drilling. Not only would the ocean serve as a near-infinite heat sink to keep the reactor from overheating, it could also protect it from earthquakes and tsunamis, such as the ones that caused the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011. In addition, when such a floating plant is ready to be retired, it could be towed to a special decommissioning yard, much like what is already done with nuclear-powered ships. Although the concept was first proposed as early as the 1960s, technical and regulatory uncertainties prevented it from being implemented. Russia is now building its own floating nuclear power station, which is scheduled to go on line in 2016.


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