Every organization needs to reduce its carbon footprint, and the US military is no exception. As one of the largest buyers and consumers of fossil fuels, there is much room for improvement. It’s easier said than done, however, and you want to have plenty of energy to get the job done in potential life and death situations.
Nuclear energy is reliable and can put out huge amounts of power, 1 to 5 megawatts. But to make it available to the field, it also has to be… mobile! The US military selected BWXT and other contractors to do this to build such a transportable generation IV nuclear reactor to prove the concept.
The design envisages a nuclear reactor small enough to fit in a 6 meter shipping container for easy transport. It should also be easy to get up and running and should ideally be up and running within a week from the shipping time.
The reactor could also be used in disaster areas where power is out and hopefully won’t cause a disaster of its own. The idea that it could be attacked by enemy forces isn’t reassuring, but risk management has come a long way since the idea was contemplated in the ’60s and ’70s.
The fuel is not as enriched (less radioactive) and the containment and containment technologies are much better these days. The Department of Defense says even a containment failure would not be a “disaster.”
The electrification of the military will take a long time, but having large amounts of electrical power could prove very useful, not for logistical reasons and for carbon neutral reasons. It could also power direct energy weapons such as lasers or microwave beams. These could prove to be the ultimate projectile interceptors.
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