The public reputation of nuclear power plummeted after the Fukushima meltdowns, but many in the energy sector still see nuclear fission as the only way to keep the lights on and stave off climate change. No private entities, and vanishingly few governments, though, want to spend billions to build new plants, so at least one manufacturer is offering smaller pre-packaged units. Will, The Stars Align for Small Nuclear Reactors?
The Westinghouse Electric Company has lined up Ameren, a St. Louis-based electric company, as a partner for its small modular reactor project. Getting a strong indication of commercial interest is critical because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can review only a few of the many proposed reactor designs and gives priority in the licensing process to those with a stronger chance of getting built.
Some utility analysts have argued that small reactors would be good “drop-in replacements” for 1950s and 1960s-era coal plants that are now being retired, given that that their generating capacity would be about the same.
The long term problem with nukes, though, is still handling and disposal of spent rods.
In, The Quantum Fusion Hypothesis, Tom Whipple keeps plugging away at any sniff of an unlimited source of power, aka a free lunch:
There have been so many of these [LENR] reports by reliable and respected scientists that it has become absurd to claim that the phenomenon is fraudulent or that all these scientists are mistaken in their observations. Currently there are at least six different organizations around the world saying they have a commercially useful heat-producing device under development which they will be demonstrating soon. ...
This situation however seems to be changing following a lengthy interview with a fellow out in Berkeley, California by the name of Robert Godes of Brillouin Energy. He has been working in this field for the last ten [!!] years and says that he not only has a reliable heat-producing device, but also understands the physics behind it – which he calls the Quantum Fusion Hypothesis. He says that this theory of just how low-energy nuclear reactions work has allowed the development of a device which produces heat immediately and reliably. Most interestingly, Godes says he has shared his insights with scientists at the Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratories and SRI International, one of the leading US laboratories investigating the phenomenon. He says that both have verified that his theory does indeed work and that they can now produce heat from hydrogen every time they try.
Godes' hypothesis is interesting for those with even a smattering of physics in their background. First of all, he holds that the heat which is coming from infusing hydrogen into nickel or palladium is not coming from "cold fusion" in the classic sense of the term. It is not a deuterium fusing with deuterium reaction as takes place in the sun or H-bombs and which requires extremely high energies.
What seems to be happening in this new kind of fusion is that when hydrogen is "loaded" into nickel or palladium and subjected to the proper kind of an electromagnetic pulse, the hydrogen nucleus which is a positively charged proton acquires
and[an] electron which turns it into a low energy free neutron. Now a low energy free neutron is something very nice to have for it quickly combines with other protons to form deuterium, tritium and finally quadrium. The quadrium only lasts for an instant before undergoing a process called beta decay turning it into helium. This is where Einstein and E = MC2 comes in. The beta decay of quadrium results in a loss of mass which is turned into heat. If all this pans out as claimed, it could be one of the most important secrets of nature that has ever been discovered, for our energy problems are over.
As I understand it—and I studied more statics than physics—protons can only change into neutrons when both are part of a large nucleus, under either electron capture or inverse beta decay, and the atomic mass remains constant. Decay energy is released, but that appears to be much smaller than the change of mass into energy theorized by Godes. But I suppose we have room in the backyard if one of these things actually works.
Update: I'm not sure whether Quadrium is an accepted term. It directs to the H4 isotope in wikipedia, but does not appear in online dictionaries. Quadium was used to refer to the the H4 isotope that powered the Q-bomb in The Mouse That Roared.