New nuke plants to be safer, smaller, and cheaper

An article from the Christian Science Monitor discusses fourth-generation nuclear power plants (no, George, that's not pronounced "nuk-u-lar"). After a nearly 30-year drought in the US in bringing new nuclear power plants online, there's growing interest in replacing existing coal plants and providing new power using nuclear energy once again.

But, this time, some of the "greens" are interested in looking at the idea. With all of the furor over the emission of greenhouse gasses and the discussion of using electric and hybrid transportation, there's growing interest in producing power centrally (as opposed to doing it in each car) and thus in a way that can be done with fewer byproducts.

However, this approach leads us once again down the path of nuclear power, which scares a lot of people.

Among the design ideas are: using smaller plants closer to the need, such as the sodium reactor that is proposed for Alaska; using gravity and other natural processes to create passive protection from meltdowns and coolant failures; and creating a set of standard designs for building reactors that limit the approval time and decrease the training necessary for employees moving from plant to plant.

We'll see, but it could be an interesting time.