Nuclear energy already constitutes the largest source of carbon-free electricity in the United States. With innovation in mind, start-ups and established companies are beginning to advance a score of advanced reactor designs. These advanced reactors create energy the same way, but they will be built, fueled and operated in an entirely new way, reflecting lessons learned from decades of innovation. Some of these new designs will do different jobs than we’re used to, meeting new needs in a decarbonized world. Nearly all will produce electricity, but some may provide heat to industry, displacing fossil gas or coal, while some will produce hydrogen, which can be a fuel or a storage medium.
In this second installment of our four-part eBook series, we take a closer look at current and near-future reactor technology, and how new and emerging reactor designs can integrate into a larger zero-carbon energy system.