GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Small Power Reactors For Electricity and Water Desalination in Desert areas
Paper Proposal Text :
A challenging energy demand - mainly for electricity and water - is facing many Middle East (ME) countries, particularly those having large areas of desert as in the Gulf and North Africa regions. Desert in these regions may exceed 90% of total area at some countris. The main electrical network grids in these ME countries cover a small populated areas. The desert areas need more practical and economical energy solutions.

Most current nuclear power plants in the world are designed for large size electricity production. The idea of Small and Medium size nuclear power plants, though an old idea, was not widely implemented.

Small power plants can be installed in desert areas without neither the need for connection with main network grids nor to be located near seas or other strong water flow sources. Mix energy based on nuclear and renewable (wind-solar) sources may present the best solution. Small Power Nuclear Reactors (range of 50 - 100 MWe) could be quite suitable and economical for these areas.

Newly designed SMR are currently developped by a number of companies but their future application are still questionable. Small size power reactors (about 50 MWe) are not commercially common in the market. Historically small plants were designed for limited purposes e.g ships or submarines (e,g, Mutsu, Openheimer, Shippingport ..), but mostly using nuclear fuel with high or elevated enrichment. Currently, different design options for small power reactors are proposed but most of them are based on integrated advanced technology design with the installation of different traditional components from the first and the second cooling loops together inside the same reactor vessel, causing the integrated reactor vessel to be extremely tall with limited diameter.

A small power reactor (called ALEX-50) has been designed to produce 50 MW of electricity which may serve the needs of 200,000 families or less if part of energy is used for desalination, new agriculture lands and industry. One power unit of such type might cost less than 100m$ with quite competitive price for kwh production.
The main technical specifications of ALEX-50 reactor design is its limited need for water cooling of the last condenser loop. This would permit its installation in desert areas. Water from treated waste water or from underground water or from sea/river water passing through a long pipe of relatively small diameter could offer different options for the limited cooling water needed for the plant.
The design of ALEX-50 reactor components followed the scaling of the main design of large scale PWRs, mainly the most two commercial types, namely the APR-1400 and the WWER-1200.
A 1 MWe reactor model to ALEX-50, had been designed and manufactured in Egypt (as part of a B.Sc. project at Alexandria University), proved the potential of national industry to share the manufacturing of the larger components of ALEX-50.

The small size nuclear power reactor of 50 MWe was selected as a compromise to the local industrial capability (particularly, the wall thickness and size of different components), the cost, the need for limited water cooling, the mobility and ease of handling and installation and others. In addition to its electricity generation the reactor could be used for the production of desalinated water.

The worry of the security concern to install a nuclear reactor in the desert is addressed including the introduction of additional boundaries and measures to make it more robust.