Today, the application of technology is taking a new turn since most individuals and organizations are adopting new technological applications in completing their tasks. In this case, technology users are seeking systems that are effective, easy to use and manage. For this reason, the old and obsolete systems are being phased out due to their ineffectiveness. This has been evident in most of the industries including the nuclear reactor sector.
There has been an introduction of small reactors, and their application has been on the rise. It is a matter of time before the traditional systems are rendered obsolete. The existence of gaps in technology application has been an issue that has derailed their adoption process. The users of these systems are sometimes not convinced that they are secure and the negative attitudes held towards them lead to low market acceptance.
Current Trends in Technology Application
A nuclear reactor produces and controls the energy that is released when an atom splits into elements. The energy and heat obtained from the nuclear reactor power are utilized in generating electricity. The atom fission releases uranium collides with other atoms releasing energy that heats the water to approximately 520 degrees Fahrenheit. The hot water is then used to spin turbines which are connected to generators that in turn produce electricity (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2019). The various components of the nuclear reactor include the moderator, fuel, coolant, control rods, steam generator, pressure tubes, and containment. The nuclear power technology is expected to change in the future, and the gaps that exist in the current systems can help create opportunities that can be utilized in driving new markets.
According to an article, This new technology could save the troubled nuclear power industry, a new form of nuclear reactors have emerged that are expected to have a significant impact on the industry (Carlson, 2016). The market has seen the introduction of small nuclear reactors that are cost-efficient and safer in comparison to the traditional nuclear system designs. Entities have been relying on procedures that help them replace the old systems in their nuclear reactor plants thus ensuring that they manage to achieve better results (Carlson, 2016). This emerging technology is expected to change the future of the nuclear reactors by ensuring that the world is safe from any harm created through pollution.
There should be limited emission to the environment to lower climate change effects and ensure that the operational cost is low. It is often stated that nuclear power plants do not make any harmful emission to the environment, but the truth is that the existing designs cannot offer a viable solution to climate change. Wilkerson, (2019), supports this claim by asserting that unlike other sources of energy such as coal that produce a high level of CO2, nuclear reactions d not emit CO2. A significant number of investors have taken the responsibility of finding ways through which they can find a solution to problems by introducing better systems. Therefore, the future of nuclear reactors is likely to be different if these small nuclear reactors are introduced to the market.
A significant number of entities like the Utah group and Tennessee Valley Authority have made application for the licenses and permits to allow them to establish small nuclear reactor plants an indication that the future of nuclear reactor process will be different. They will prove popular considering that unlike in the case of the traditional systems that rely on motors and pumps that use electricity for the coolant process, these latest systems will be relying on conduction and gravity for the cooling process. It is also evident that the cost of building and installing the small nuclear reactors is lower as compared to that of installing traditional systems.
This makes the introduction of the small nuclear reactors a viable project since if focuses of minimizing costs which is the core objective in every sector. According to HM Government (2019), the development of the Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) will help in increasing the level of electricity production. Additionally, the traditional nuclear organizations are finding it hard to sustain their operations and manage their finances due to the high competition levels in the industry. It is majorly due to the low prices of low natural gas as well as the subsidized solar and wind projects.
The future of nuclear reactor industry is therefore placed on the small nuclear reactor plants. Furthermore, the current researchers are focusing on exploring the strategies that can be utilized to recycle used fuel with the aim of ensuring that the nuclear reactors consume a minimal level of fuel. In addition to considering alternative fuels, the SMRs will help in reprocessing already used fuels as a way to conserve energy (HM Government, 2019).
The current status of the technology involved in the nuclear fuel cycle involves using uranium in the production process. There exist open and closed fuel cycles and current trends in the market show that short term development process will lay their focus on cost reduction and this is expected to increase the market’s competitiveness levels. The development process at the middle level will mostly consider outcomes that are realized at the end of fuel cycle mostly involving treatment of the long living transuranics. Another emerging trend in this industry that future manufacturers are likely to adopt is the development of fuel that can be utilized with non-electrical applications reactors and this will happen parallel to the reactor development.
The transmutation and partitioning technologies will be introduced in the long term in less than 20 years. It is also estimated that there is the likelihood of existing recourses getting depleted in future due to continued reliance on nuclear fuel cycle that uses thermal neutron. Another emerging trend with the reactors is the possibility of the introduction of advanced nuclear reactors that are likely to be in use in the next 25 years. These new nuclear fleets will focus on enhancing energy efficiency by reducing the level of greenhouse emissions (Lester, 2019). One such system is the Direct Use of Spent PWR fuel in CANDU reactors (DUPIC) which tend to lower the amount of waste that is emanating from the CANDU reactors, as well as, an increasing level of proliferation resistance.
There exist gaps in the process of applying current technology systems among them the attitudes held by the public and the risk assessment bodies that are given the responsibility of ensuring that technology is not harmful to the environment. In this case, the public considers nuclear reactors as being hazardous elements that should not be allowed to release their emissions to the environment due to adverse effects that are likely to arise.
A good number of people believe that potential dangers that are posed by nuclear plants in the event of an accident are numerous. Furthermore, the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster was caused by radioactive reactions as a result of nuclear fission (Wilkerson, 2019). The public understands that it is difficult for human beings to manage the situation in case an accident happens. A significant number of people believe that a nuclear plant has the capability of exploding like a bomb, but the reality of the matter is that they are safe and there is no single time that they will explode like a bomb.
This gap has made it hard to have many nuclear reactors in the society considering that the public does not support them in the first place. It is clear that this gap has led the public to react on an emotional basis and not rely on facts to make their argument or use professional analysis to determine the riskiness of having nuclear reactors in the neighborhood. If the public were educated on the way that nuclear reactors are handled, produced, and stored, there is a possibility of entities being established in new markets to increase their production. Additionally, the acceptance of materials in the public domain will ensure that consumption of the nuclear reactors end product will increase.
Other gaps in the application of technology in the field of nuclear reactor are created by the inability of technical experts to evaluate the dangers that are posed by nuclear power. It is believed that nuclear power has the potential to generate huge volumes of radioactive material that is harmful to humans (Australian Nuclear Industry. (2019). The problem makes it hard to understand the proper approaches that can be used in the process of technology management. Therefore, the solution that is likely to trigger a wave of new markets in the future is technical experts getting to involve the public with the idea of raising more knowledge and perspective on the issue.
Additionally, it is good to understand that without the support of the public regarding the need to observe the safety rules and due diligence, there is no possibility of the nuclear power being used in the right way. It is ethical to handle all the societal concerns before a nuclear plant is established to ensure that there is full public support when introducing the system. It is good to note that employees will operate these plants and this means that it is critical to making sure that every member in the community is onboard before introducing a new plant.
To sum up, the nuclear reactor power technology has played a great role in the production of energy that has enabled organizations to run their activities effectively. There is the possibility of the introduction of small nuclear reactor plants in future which are having more benefits in comparison to the traditional designs. Their installation is cheap and easier to manage, and the gaps that are visible in the technology application are many. They need to be utilized to ensure that the nuclear plants are introduced into new markets. One of these gaps exists in the attitudes the public holds towards the nuclear reactors. They think that they are harmful elements and when they cause damages to the environment, human beings are not in a position to handle the effects.