Despite its other environmental impacts, including toxic waste that requires centuries or millennia of storage in facilities designed to protect future generations from the genetic and acute effects of radiation, nuclear power is considered by some influential environmentalists an essential component of the post-fossil fuel economy. For example, James Hansen, the NASA scientist who raised the alarm about global warming in Congressional testimony in 1987, advocates expanded nuclear energy generation. Meet Jay Yu, founder, executive chairman, and president of Nano Nuclear Energy Inc., and James Walker, CEO of the company. Nano Nuclear develops smaller, portable nuclear microreactors that can be moved to where electricity is needed on a truck. These microreactors can generate between one and 20 megawatts of energy, enough electricity to power as few as 400 homes or up to 20,000 homes, depending on their needs — and that’s plenty for many large manufacturing companies to use in a crisis when other sources of power are down. Nano Nuclear is working on two designs, the Zeus and Odin reactors, for different uses.
Jay and James offer arguments for considering the role of microreactors in various settings we’ve discussed on the show. Ocean freight shipping, for example, accounts for 2% of humanity’s annual carbon emissions, and a microreactor is about the same size as a diesel engine, so it could easily replace today’s engine. Bringing inexpensive electricity to low-income countries could provide power to run water desalination plants and air conditioners as the planet warms and create economic opportunities that have never developed in the fossil fuel era. When you introduce new energy platforms, there is a chance to reorganize society for greater fairness. But there is still the question of what to do with spent nuclear fuel. The United States shut down its Yucca Mountain storage project, the country’s only deep geological long-term storage facility, for many reasons, including the well-justified protest by the indigenous communities that live near the site. You can learn more about Nano Nuclear Energy at https://nanonuclearenergy.com/