What are small modular reactors?

What are small modular reactors?

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are part of today’s advanced nuclear technology that is made to be more environmentally friendly within the nuclear power sector. They are power generators with an output that is around one-third of what standard nuclear power reactors can produce (approximately 300 MW(e)). SMRs are designed to offer enhanced levels of safety and produce large amounts of low-carbon electricity. The key features of SMRs are:

  • Small- in terms of physical size, they’re a fraction of a traditional nuclear power reactor.
  • Modular- allows systems and elements to be factory-built and moved as a complete unit to a location ready to be installed. This minimises costs, improves quality, and reduces construction schedules.
  • Reactors- they use nuclear fission to create heat and produce energy.

Together with bigger, conventional reactors, and other advanced reactors, small modular reactors are growing nuclear energy portfolio options that are necessary to meet our national standards of energy safety and mitigating climate change.

What are the benefits of SMRs?

Several of the benefits of SMR technology are linked to the foundation of their small and modular design. Thanks to their smaller footprint, they can be installed in locations that wouldn’t be suitable for bigger nuclear power plants. Prefabricated units of small modular reactors can be made, shipped, and fitted on site, meaning they’re more affordable to construct than large power reactors and with the addition of mineral insulated cable, they’re safe from hazards.

Small modular reactors are typically custom designed for a specific location, which can sometimes cause delays in construction. SMRs ensure savings in both construction time and cost, and they can be deployed incrementally to match increasing energy demand.

Some of the difficulties of getting access to energy are infrastructure, restricted grid coverage in rural areas, and the expense of connecting to the grid in rural locations. One power plant shouldn’t represent any more than 10% of the total installed grid capacity.

In locations that don’t have suitable transmission lines and grid capacity, SMRs can be fitted into a grid that’s already there or remotely off-grid, for smaller electrical output, ensuring there is low-carbon power for both industry and the general population. This is especially applicable for microreactors, which are a subset of SMRs and generate electrical power up to 10MW(e).

Small modular reactors are better for the environment in comparison to other SMRs are best suited to areas that don’t have access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy. In addition, microreactors could work as an alternative power supply in emergencies or take the place of generators that are usually run on diesel.

Compared to other reactors, SMR designs are typically less complex, and the safety concept makes use of passive systems and the natural safety characteristics of the reactor, including low power and operating pressure. So, in these cases, no human intervention or external power or force is needed to shut down the systems.

This is due to the fact that passive systems depend on physical actions like circulation, gravity, convection, and self-pressurisation. The improved safety margins and mineral insulated cable, in some cases, eliminate or substantially reduce the potential for dangerous releases of radioactivity into the environment and the public in the event of an accident.

Another benefit of small modular reactors in the nuclear industry is they have reduced fuel requirements. Therefore, power plants that are based on SMRs might need refuelling less often, every 3 to 7 years compared to every 1 to 2 years for standard plants. Some SMRs are even designed to function for up to 30 years without any need for adding fuel.

Sustainable development and the role of SMRs

Small modular reactors and nuclear power plants can offer distinctive attributes relating to efficiency, economics, and flexibility. Whilst nuclear reactors can output electricity according to demand, certain renewables like wind and solar are variable sources of energy that rely on the weather and time of day.

SMRs could work in tandem with and boost the effectiveness of renewable sources in a hybrid energy system. These features enable SMRs to play an important part in the transition to clean energy.

How do we help small modular reactor developers?

At TRM, we provide solutions to modular reactor developers globally with the aim of making sure our clients have the knowledge to design and implement the most suitable, cost-effective, and long-lasting products.

As experienced mineral insulated cable manufacturers this is often what our core products centre around. However, if we feel that it’s not the right fit for the application, we will use other technologies to achieve the desired outcome. Contact us today to find out more.



What is pipe heat tracing?

What is pipe heat tracing?

Having a pipe heat trace system is essential for cold weather conditions when the liquid that flows through pipes tend to freeze. If freezing occurs within pipes, it can cause damage to the piping system as a whole. In serious cases, the build-up of pressure in pipes can result in cracks, or the pipes could even blow up, causing serious injuries to anyone near to the system. In this article, we’ll be going into detail on what pipe heat tracing is and how it is used.

What is pipe heat tracing?

Pipe heat tracing (also referred to as heat tracing) is often used to make sure fluid, process, or material temperatures within pipes and piping systems are kept above ambient temperatures during static flow conditions as well as offering additional freeze protection in specific applications.

You can design a customised heat trace system for certain applications by choosing the right type of industrial heat trace cable. Also, it’s possible to control the level of heat generation through these wires by altering the wattage of the heat trace cable to work with particular requirements for processing fluid.

How is pipe heat tracing used?

One of the most commonly used applications for electric industrial heat trace products is to avoid the freezing of pipes. Using self-regulating electric heat trace alongside an ambient temperature sensing system is the most cost-effective and efficient way to protect your pipes from freezing.

The system design for electric pipe heat tracing applications will be affected by several factors. These include pipe size/diameter, liquid temperature/heat loss, number of thermal heat sinks in the run (flanges/valves), and type of insulation. This will help to determine the right amount of power necessary for the applications so an efficient heat trace system can be designed and supplied.

The controls in these types of systems can be very complicated, as often they are process critical. In order to manage this effectively, various features can be designed into your system such as real-time temperature data, backup operations (in the event of a failure), system failure notifications, wireless connectivity, and more. Specific allowances need to be made for tracing water for safety showers and fire protection systems. Also, electric heating cable systems are typically used as backup systems when steam is used as the main source of freeze protection.

Maintaining temperature

Heat tracing can be used to maintain a steady temperature in pipes and tanks of any size and in a lot of different applications. Pipes that have thermal protection can keep liquid at a regular temperature whilst being moved to a different process through the pipes. As well as this they can lower tank heating expenses due to the incoming material not forming a thermal drag on the process.

Removable and reusable insulation jackets and blankets

Removable insulation provides cover for valves, flanges, and other fittings in industrial buildings. They are an effective, convenient, and cheaper solution to lowering heat loss and making your overall operations more efficient. Standard pipe and valve insulation line products are designed to fit various sizes, and can be used on pretty much any application that needs thermal processing such as:

  • Valves
  • Pumps
  • Filters and regulators
  • Pressure reducing valves
  • Strainers

As the cold weather starts closing in, it’s important to make sure you’ve got suitable pipe heat tracing in place to avoid frustrating and expensive problems should your pipes freeze over. Contact TRM today to discuss your heat trace needs. Our specialists are on hand to make sure you get industrial heat trace cables and an overall system that works for your operations.


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