Friday, April 13, 2012

2. Nuclear Innovation and Entrepreneurship Sectors/Opportunities Directory

The following outline is meant to be a somewhat comprehensive and living document, pointing to areas where innovation and entrepreneurship are either already occurring, are about to occur, or where future opportunities exist. The outline is currently at its earliest stages, with additional future updates necessary. These are not necessarily rank-ordered, as of now.

Please include proposed additions in the comments section along with a link, as I know I have missed some other exciting opportunities.

1. Intrapreneurship at existing plants/within existing organizations - not at the expense of safety
a. Improved processes in general
b. Improved employee training/mentoring/knowledge transfer (particularly “tribal” knowledge)
c. Improved construction techniques/procedures - modularity
d. Improved schedule assurance (thus reduced financial risk)
e. Improved design techniques/procedures
f. Improved incentivization (employee retention)
- Not losing any more generations of a potential nuclear workforce

2. Regional Energy Initiatives
- Oak Ridge Energy Corridor

3. New Entrepreneurial Ventures
a. new reactor designs
- Westinghouse’s SMR (?)
Gen IV
- Gen4Power Module (formerly Hyperion)
- LFTR or Fuji or other Thorium-fueled Molten Salt Reactors - Flibe Energy
-TWR Terrapower (funded partially by Bill Gates)

b. improvements in other aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle
- Better, cleaner, and safer mining techniques
- Already much less impact than some other forms of mining
- More efficient enrichment
- Better centrifuges (for peaceful uses, sorry Iran)
- Laser enrichment (SILEX/GE-H)
- Improvements in fuel for existing plants
- Higher burnup capabilities
- Possibly breeding some Th with very minor modifications to existing LWRs
- Improvements to be made by CASL
- Allowing High Fuel burnups (SAFELY)
- Demonstrating the safety of further uprates
- Demonstrating the acceptability of further license extensions (beyond 60 years)
- Applying aspects of CASL to designs beyond LWRs

4. Innovative financing
a. SMRs aren’t “bet-the-company” propositions
- smaller utilities could have nuclear plants
c. Collaboration between competing designs to share development costs for some components?
- Innovative Power Generation components/systems
- Specialized pumps, valves, etc. that could be used for different designs

5. New markets/products - beyond just baseload electricity (which is, honestly, mostly saturated)
a. intermediate and peaking electricity
b. transportation fuels
- Carbonaceous initially, but eventually non-carbon fuels
c. Useful isotopes
- Cancer treatments, RTGs

6. Innovative Regulations
a. Incorporating new knowledge - from CASL and numerous on-going studies
b. Incorporating findings from the SOARCA
c. Incorporating lessons learned from Fukushima Daichi
- and continuing to implement previous lessons

This will be a tough one, and is a primary reason why many people would think that Entrepreneurship and Nuclear might be mutually exclusive.

The 3rd post here at Entreprenuclear will be a brief bio of the author.


  1. Coverage of the development of Small Modular Reactor firms including technology and market prospects in Fuel Cycle Week online at URLs below.

    SMR coverage from Fuel Cycle Week

  2. Thanks for being the first commenter here, Dan.