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San Diego-based General Atomics, while most famous recently for its Predator and Reaper drones, announced this week that it is seeking funding from the federal Department of Energy for work on a next-generation nuclear reactor design.

Earlier this year, it was announced that General Atomics would be one of four companies receiving federal funding to work on another project related to improvements in nuclear fuel safety. Now, the firm is vying for its small modular reactor, dubbed the Energy Multiplier Module, to be one of two designs to receive second-round funding.

The units, which are designed to be small enough for construction in a factory and transport by truck, would generate up to 265 megawatts of energy (as compared to 2254 megawatts of energy produced by both of the recently-retired San Onofre generators operating under full load), and would run on spent nuclear fuel rods from first-generation plants, further intensifying its radioactivity but greatly reducing its volume and useful lifespan. General Atomics says the reactors could run for up to 30 years without needing to be refueled.

The Department of Energy has a budget of up to $452 million to bring small modular reactors into commercial viability, so the portion of the earlier $3.5 million grant snapped up by General Atomics could be a proverbial drop in the bucket if the company is one of the two selected to move forward.

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CaptainObvious Aug. 10, 2013 @ 11:31 a.m.

Smaller ! If I can't have "Mr. Fusion", at least come up with a home nuke.


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