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Fission Battery Markets and Economic Requirements


Fission Batteries (FBs) are nuclear reactors for customers with heat demands less than 250 MWt—replacing oil and natural gas in a low-carbon economy. Individual FBs would have outputs between 5 and 30 MWt. The small FB size has two major benefits: (1) the possibility of mass production and (2) ease of transport and leasing with return of used FBs to factory for refurbishing and reuse. Comparatively, these two features are lacking in larger conventional reactors. Larger reactors are not transportable and thus can’t obtain the manufacturing economics possible with mass production or the operational advantages of returning the FB to the factory after use. Leasing places the regulatory, maintenance and fuel-cycle burden on the leasing company that is minimized by large-fleet operations of identical units. The markets and economic requirements for FBs were examined. The primary existing markets are industrial, biofuels, off-grid electricity and container ships. Two major future markets were identified—advanced biofuels and hydrogen. In a low-carbon world, the competitive price range for heat is $20–50/MWh ($6–15/million BTU) and $70–115/MWh for non-grid electricity. The primary competition in these sectors is likely to be biofuels and hydrogen produced using alternative energy sources—grid electricity is non-competitive. Larger users of energy have alternative low-carbon energy choices including modular nuclear reactors and fossil fuels with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

Funding source: The authors would like to thank for their support the Idaho National Laboratory and the INL National Universities Consortium (NUC) Program under DOE Idaho Operations Contract DE-AC07-05ID14517
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: United States

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