Nuclear Video Matinee: Offshore Nuclear Plants

Jacopo Buongiorno of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discusses some of the advantages of a nuclear reactor concept under development in collaboration with industry and other universities: floating off-shore nuclear power plants, constructed entirely in a shipyard, anchored off the coast, linked to the electric grid via undersea cable. Earthquakes and tsunamis would not be a threat, the ocean would be readily available to serve as a heat sink for reactor cooling, emergency evacuation planning would be a lesser consideration…

A potentially revolutionary advance in nuclear engineering? The concept has made quite a splash in the media—the latest being more details via a story in The Economist.

Thanks to Massachusetts Institute of Technology YouTube and the Nuclear Street News Team.

floating nuclear plant

3 Responses to Nuclear Video Matinee: Offshore Nuclear Plants

  1. Dennis Mosebey

    I do not see how it is protected from Tsunami wave, consider the one that hit Fukishima. Also the earthquake shock could destroy the mooring system under the surface could they not and set the plant into free float and indeed break connection to the grid. I do not see how this is safe regarding earthquake and tsunami destruction other than as he points out the ocean would be infinite heat sink post accident which would mitigate damage done. I would have to see more detail on this before I buy the claim of tsunami proof. Dennis

  2. If the moored plant is far enough away from the rise of the continental shelf / shore, then the tsunami will be no more than a swell in the ocean, which theoretically the moored plant would ride up and back down.

  3. James Greenidge

    It’s vital that this concept is viewed beyond its engineering appeal and we plug into human factors that can affect nuclear plants as a whole (in the US). While plausible and financially attractive, this idea seems to me a public nuclear perception boomerang waiting to happen. Yes, I can see it applied to some specialized situations, but the worst thing to do for the image of reactors and public confidence in their safety is to strut this idea out as an “alternate” siting method to an unwashed and wary public (and eager to pounce greens) who’ll only and solely perceive it as a desperate answer by the nuclear industry in addressing “insoluble” safety issues and “inevitable” meltdowns by resorting to shipping nuclear reactors out to sea. This ploy will happen sure as the sun rises. I tip my hat to the ingeniousness of the concept, but on a sheer struggling public perception and nuclear safety image issue this is not good for assuaging fears and gaining public confidence in nuclear power regarding plants on land and especially deep in-country.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY