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« RPT Uranium: Up 18.42% today! | Main | Is Cold Fusion the Future? »

A Mini Nuke!

Hyperion Logo 06 June 2008


When trying to envisage the future have you ever dreamed that one day you might have your own independent nuclear power plant supplying all your energy needs?

As we can see from the picture above this piece of kit is not much bigger than a hot tub and it can be transported on a truck. A visit to their web site tells us that Hyperion Power Generation Incorporated (HPG) are the owners of this small, non-weapons grade nuclear power reactor. Invented by Dr. Otis “Pete” Peterson, in New Mexico, at the Los Alamos National Laboratory which was established in1943. HPG was awarded the exclusive license to utilize the intellectual property and develop a product that will benefit the U.S. economy and global society as a whole.

Before we get too excited they go to say that:

“The next multi-million dollar phase of work on the development of Hyperion, underwritten by private investors”

Altira Group LLC has provided the investment funds required by HPG out of the recently closed Altira Technology Fund V -- a $176 Million fund focused on venture capital for energy technologies.

So it looks as though we do not have an investment opportunity at the moment however they may go public somewhere down the line.

This concept was originally conceived as a clean, affordable solution to power mining and industrial operations such as the retorting of oil sands and shale. Other applications and requests for modules now come in daily from around the globe. This takes us back to our original question in wondering just how long it will be before we can all be reasonably independent in terms of our energy needs. As we were rather curious about this idea we put a few questions to Hyperion and received the following answers as listed below from Deborah Deal Blackwell, APR Vice President, Licensing & Public Affairs

Q1 How long will it be before it is available on a commercial basis?
A1 shooting for 2013

Q2 What power generating capacity does it have?
A2 225 MW electric – 70 MW thermal

Q3 How much uranium will it use?
A3 Not much. The whole thing is no bigger than a hot tub

Q4 How many of these plants do you expect to build worldwide etc?
A4 4,000 of the first design

Q5 How much do they cost?
A5 Based on material prices today, we are looking at an initial price of $25 million per module.

Q6 Please have a guess at how much uranium 4000 would use?
A6 Fuel will be a metal compound and we are still working out how much of it will be uranium – sorry, just can’t give you a better answer right now.

Q7 Can you see the day when each industrial facility would have their own unit?
A7 Yes, but at the rate the U.S. is going, it will be 20 years if not more. Ignorance, politics, red tape and just plain laziness is getting in the way of the U.S. making the advancements our country needs in the energy area. This country is moving too slow on reacting to climate change. Those of us in the nuclear industry who understand the key role that nuclear can play in battling climate change, need to form a cohesive bipartisan intense effort to educate the public and our elected officials. It’s all hands on deck!
I bet the French incorporate SMRs (small modular reactors) into their industrial infrastructure – and hopefully they will be our SMRs! – before the U.S. does. France apparently did a good job of pulling its people together to make energy independence through nuclear a national imperative. We need to do the same.

Q8 What about a mini version suitable for the residential market - I know we are pushing it here, but if you don't have dreams they cant come true.
A8 Again, at least 25 years away in the U.S. because politics, and fear generated by ignorance in the general population is getting in the way.

Hyperion Power Generation have assembled a team of scientists and other capable professionals who intend to develop this product for all of the good uses that we can possibly imagine.

We certainly wish them every success in their endeavours and we will watch for future developments and possible investment opportunities regarding Hyperion.

Any comments? Please feel free to add them to this article.

Have a good one.

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Hyperion Plant 06 June 2006

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Reader Comments (11)

I've been waiting for years to read an article like this. By the time the technology is comercially viable, the hype of terrorists using dirty bombs will hopefully be long behind. Perhaps that hype will diminish even sooner if a discovery is made to encase the mini reactor in a material that is near impossible to compromise.

June 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterL. Hill

I can just imagine what ammunition the goofy "greens" will find in this new invention. I wish they would realize that if we in the First World are to be in a postion to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, then we'd better get with the programme and not just keep giving talk about what we're going to do about them.

June 9, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdaveydog

I will probably be dead, but the vision is proper, to finally see people looking outside of the box to properly supply power to an ever growing world.
Hold on, it will indeed be an interesting ride.

June 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRobert March

Sounds like a solution but I don't think you have to be a 'Goofy Green' to see the potential issue with this technology. Let's assume we have 4000 of these being delivered to all parts of the world -what's to stop a lorry loaded with 5000lb of explosives ramming the thing as it trundles off the dock in Bangalore or 'closer to home'? Will they be designed to be blastproof?


October 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNick

What do you think happens with nuclear fuel, which is MUCH more radioactive than this thing. What do you think happens with nuclear waste? It gets shipped on a truck!

There's no such thing as "safety", Nick. There is only managed risk.

October 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterForky Lee

I hate to be rude but, what? Who cares if a truck hits the thing, its not like the thing is going to go off, and I doubt its loaded with enough fuel to do much if it did. On top of that... it's not hard to figure out when someone is planning something like that - you'd have to have a MASSIVE explosion to manage to set the fuel off (if its even possible? I know it'd take some ridiculous heat to penetrate the casing and then set off fission on top of that). Even a farmer can't get five thousand pounds of fertilizer without having homeland security crawling up his back. To get the amt of explosives making stock you'd need to set off a nuclear explosion you're pretty much guaranteed to raise someone's brow. I dunno about in England but for all ppl say about Bush his measures have made sure of that much. You can't even buy a bit of black powder without getting funny looks.

November 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

cannot these 'mini-nuclear power plants' be constructed to burn thorium? i understand thorium will not explode, is plentiful, and one particular company has ideas about using the technology now, incorpporating it into existing units. i am ignorant of the actual proces,etc. a 'non-nuclear' nuclear power plant would solve alot of problems.

November 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrichard mruz

Its actually quite hard to set off a nuclear explosion -but that was not my concern. I certainly hope this fuel is not in powdered form because if -in the case of the lorry attack worse case shell fracture- the resulting radioctive fireball would spread this dust far and wide and make a large area uninhabitable for months or years.

But lets assume its not -if a solid then an attack like this would probably be fairly self contained resulting in minimum radioactive fallout even if the casing got fractured by the blast.

I guess then the other possible 'doomsday scenario' is a complete societal breakdown (Post-Peak-Oil?) somewhere that has something like this. Think Afganistan/Pakistan back in the 90s. As the world becomes a much more dangerous place and with 1000s of these deployed it might be only a matter of time before a well organised International terrorist organisation decides to 'have a go' and attack a site on mass to steal some of the radioactive material to create mutliple dirty bombs (grinding the metal up to powder if that's what they contain for maximum effect.) -before any organised response can be made.


November 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNick Outram

In response to the comment by Robert on November 12,2008:

I'm an open-minded optimist when thinking outside the usual scientific thought on things.I've also thought if a mini reactor this small could be converted to burn thorium.It might make a more quick and simple shortcut to use of thorium.

Unfortunately,the sub-criticality of thorium and the neutron absorption by protactinium makes conversion difficult for a reactor this small.But I never give-up trying to solve such engineering challenges anyway,in spite of any criticism by skeptics.I've been thinking about some type of hybrid fuel reactor that might give the thorium a more generous supply of neutrons from another source.I haven't figured it all out yet,but keep on trying.

April 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterC. Skinner

Hi there, This is Bob Nichols, I cover the US Nuclear Weapons Labs for the San Francisco Bay View.

About this statement:
"Q2 What power generating capacity does it have?
A2 225 MW electric – 70 MW thermal"

Those numbers are reversed. Just switch them so that 225MW is the Thermal number.

LOL! The way you have it, the "frig" it is creating electricity out of thin air!

Check it out, dude.

I'm a long time reader, keep up the good work!


Bob Nichols

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBob Nichols

Hello Again,

well, I kept wondering so I looked it up. The Hyperion web site actually says:

Reactor Power 70MW thermal
Electrical Output 25MW electric

That is about the right 33% Efficiency Standard for nukes of all sizes, too. Yup. That is as good as it gets for nukes.

New Natural Gas Plants usually run 60% Efficiency, by comparison.

Have a good day,

Bob Nichols

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBob Nichols

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