In line with the Navys submarine nuclear power reactor project, the U.S. Army began to explore small nuclear power plants in the 1950s. In 1952, the U.S. army launched the army nuclear power plan, the main purpose of which is to use nuclear power to meet the energy supply of the army base, reduce or even get rid of the dependence on fossil fuels such as diesel, greatly simplify the fuel logistics lines, and thus improve the logistics support capabilities. From 1957 to 1977, several major nuclear power enterprises in the United States designed and developed more than ten small nuclear power plant experimental products for the U.S. Army. However, due to the technical limitations, safety concerns and funding issues at that time, the U.S. Army finally stopped the research and development of such projects.
The renewed interest of the U.S. military in microreactors
At that time, as envisaged by the office of strategic capabilities, such reactors would be used to power outposts in war zones such as Iraq / Syria and Afghanistan to reduce the demand for conventional fuel supplies. At the same time, the request for information also requires that reactors can be transported to disaster areas such as earthquakes, hurricanes or floods to provide power for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Bwxt company mentioned at the beginning of this article is the main supplier of nuclear power ship reactor, its nuclear components and nuclear fuel of the U.S. Navy. It has carried out micro reactor research for many years. At present, its announced mobile micro reactor under development is obviously corresponding to the bidding case of strategic capability office.
The changers of the rules of war
If the mobile micro reactor comes out, it may become the changers of the rules of war in the future.
From the tactical point of view, micro reactor can effectively alleviate the power shortage of the army. As we all know, the power consumption of the new radar system and photoelectric system is huge. In the case of high-intensity confrontation, it will consume a lot of power resources to maintain its normal operation, and high-energy weapons such as laser, electromagnetic gun and so on are big consumers of power. The power gap restricts the application of new concept weapons. For example, the U.S. Navy has already successfully tested laser weapons, but it is said that the directional energy weapons deployed by the Navy on the new destroyers are difficult to obtain sufficient power support, especially when the A / spy-6 air defense and antimissile radar runs on the arly Burke class flightiii destroyer, which consumes a lot of energy and cannot meet the directional energy weapons and other systems on the ship Power demand.
It is reported that in September this year, the U.S. Navy loaded a high-power laser made by srop Grumman on the amphibious assault ship Portland for test. It is reported that the laser beam power of the system can reach up to 150 kilowatts, which can destroy small ships and UAVs in an instant and efficiently. The reason why the Navy chose the 25000 ton displacement Portland as the Platform, because it has effective space and spare power to carry the size of a trailer similar to laser weapons. In contrast, it is not difficult to find high-energy laser weapons on board. Taking the electromagnetic gun as an example, the power consumption and instantaneous current level of this kind of weapon are also very high. It is difficult for the traditional ships power electric structure to meet such harsh conditions. In view of the fact that the jumwalt destroyer specially designed by the United States can only be filled with conventional naval guns, there are many obstacles for electromagnetic guns to be installed on ordinary ships.
Us laser weapons have been deployed
The micro reactor will reduce the application threshold of various new concept weapons. Based on the above 150 kW lasers of the Chinese and American navies, it is difficult to achieve 10% photoelectric conversion rate according to the current solid-state laser technology, and it is predicted that the maximum will be 40% in the future. If the intermediate value is 25%, it will take 600 kW power to drive such a laser in the future, and a 10 MW (10000 kW) power micro reactor can theoretically drive more than 10 sets of excitation With the continuous shooting of optical instruments and the balance of other power supply on the ship, and the limited volume and weight of micro reactor, ordinary ships can be easily built into high-tech sea fortress. In this way, in addition to the Navy, the air force can also combine micro reactors with heavy transport aircraft or helicopters to become flying power plants or laser gunboats in the air. With this kind of nuclear power bank, the army can be more flexible in base deployment and use of high-energy weapons. It can be said that the mobile micro reactor is the golden partner of kinetic energy weapons.
From a strategic point of view, in the future, various new concept weapons such as laser and electromagnetic wave will play a more and more important role. At the same time, all kinds of unmanned platforms driven by electric power will also be filled in every corner of the battlefield, so the demand for energy, especially electric energy, will be far greater than before. Then the important nodes in the energy cycle chain of both sides in the war, such as energy generation center (power plant) and energy transmission channel (transmission line), will become the most important part of the enemys attack and our rescue, because once these targets are destroyed or cannot operate normally, it means that all relevant energy users within their energy supply range will face the danger of cooking out. Its believed that many players of the red police game have experienced it. In the game, the number of power plants directly affects the scale and operation efficiency of the base. If the power plant capacity is insufficient or attacked, there will be an instant black screen phenomenon (in the Kosovo war, the power cut war has begun to emerge, and in the later period of the war, NATO will change the power plants in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Power stations, etc. as the focus of the attack). With the power plant directly becoming oil depot or ammunition depot, the above scenario will not be fantasy in the future. However, if micro reactors are popularized, they can make up for the power shortage caused by enemy damage or natural disasters in time, which is of great benefit to the army and the people.
In September this year, Chinas first lead bismuth alloy zero power reactor Qixing III
The future of China micro reactor
Because of the great value of microreactors, efforts have been made. According to reports, the U.S. Department of energy is now seeking technical proposals for micro reactors in the industry. 14 companies, including bwxt company, have proposed 16 reactor design concepts, including fast and thermal spectrum technology gas cooled reactor, liquid fluoride cooled thorium reactor, solid-state fast reactor, ultra thermal spectrum reactor and heat pipe cooled reactor, with a power range of 0.2-8 MW.
It is gratifying that, in addition to the United States, China has also made progress in this field in the near future. On October 9, Chinas first lead bismuth alloy zero power reactor, Qixing III, reached a critical point, CNNC said on its official website. Compared with the traditional reactor, lead bismuth alloy reactor has lower melting point and higher boiling point, so lead bismuth alloy reactor has higher inherent safety and ability to resist serious accidents, higher energy density and longer operation life. In terms of application, lead bismuth alloy reactor can be designed as a large-scale power plant of million million level, a small modular nuclear power supply of megawatt level, or even as a mobile small nuclear power supply, which can be loaded on ordinary size vehicles.
To sum up, with the continuous maturity of technology, micro reactor is bound to shine in the future.