Nuclear Breakthrough Paves Way for Unlimited Energy Future

Posted on Friday, February 16, 2024
by Andrew Shirley

AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Shirley

energy small modular nuclear illustration web business, technology banner, computer light energy small modular nuclear AI generated
An AI generated photo of a Small Modular Nuclear Reactor.

A British steel company may have just revolutionized the nuclear power industry and could be paving the way for a future of cheap, virtually unlimited energy for the United States – if left-wing activists and bureaucrats will stop standing in the way.

Sheffield Forgemasters, based out of Sheffield, England, recently announced a landmark breakthrough in welding technology that could reduce the time required to produce components for small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) from 150 days to just two hours – drastically lowering costs in the process. Industry experts are hailing the innovation as a significant step toward a future where nuclear power could provide abundant, cheap energy while also reducing the impact on the environment.

The new welding technique is called “electron beam welding” and uses a focused beam of high-energy electrons to weld metals together at the atomic level. Not only are these welds accomplished more quickly, but they are also far more precise than welds accomplished using traditional methods.

This latest breakthrough is nine years in the making, with Sheffield Forgemasters launching a series of projects in 2015 and 2019 to speed up the process for bonding the thick steel components necessary to produce SMRs.

SMRs are a new generation of nuclear reactors designed to be smaller, more flexible, and safer than traditional large-scale nuclear reactors. They were first developed in 2007 and hit the market in 2022.

Unlike traditional reactors, which are typically enormous structures with power outputs ranging from hundreds to thousands of megawatts, SMRs have outputs generally under 300 megawatts. This reduced size allows for easier transport, assembly, and scalability. While traditional reactors must be built on-site, SMRs can be built in factories and transported to their final location, significantly reducing construction time and costs, as well as allowing for incremental deployment to meet varying energy demands.

Another key difference between SMRs and traditional reactors lies in their safety features and design. SMRs incorporate advanced safety systems and passive cooling mechanisms to enhance safety and mitigate the risk of accidents. Additionally, the smaller size of SMRs means that reactor cores are also typically smaller and produce less heat, making them easier to cool in emergency situations.

SMRs are also more flexible and versatile than traditional reactors. They can be deployed in a wider range of locations, including remote or off-grid areas where large-scale reactors may not be feasible. SMRs can also be used for various applications beyond electricity generation, such as district heating, desalination, or other industrial processes.

SMR technology was invented, designed, and patented in the United States. Yet currently, only China and Russia have operational SMRs. Onerous bureaucracy, red tape, and a lack of funding have stifled America’s ability to take advantage of this revolutionary technology. Other countries, primarily in the European Union, are also now developing their own SMRs, although they likely remain years away from going online.

The largest hurdle toward deploying SMRs in America has been liberal legislators and activists. Despite the fact that nuclear power produces energy cleaner, more efficiently, and far more abundantly than wind or solar ever have, left-wing activists and Democrat politicians have long fought to kill the nuclear power industry for the supposed environmental risks it poses.

While high profile disasters like the Three Mile Island accident, the Fukushima meltdown, and Chernobyl have tainted the image of the nuclear industry, data shows that nuclear is by far safer than traditional energy sources such as coal and oil, and also produces less carbon than “renewables” such as wind and solar.

However, the ongoing war in Ukraine may be giving the nuclear industry a new opportunity. Suddenly cut off from supplies of cheap Russian energy, Germany, France, and other Western European nations are being forced to find new sources of electricity. Along with opening shuttered coal plants, many European countries are now investing heavily in nuclear and SMRs in particular.

The energy crisis has also hit the United States, where the Biden administration and Democrat leaders in blue states have waged all-out war on the fossil fuels industry.

Over the objection of climate activists, the U.S. Department of Energy is now reportedly considering a $1.5 billion loan to reopen the closed Palisades nuclear power station in Michigan. If the plan goes through, Palisades would become the first closed power plant to ever reopen in the United States.

In the meantime, new American SMR manufacturers are scrambling to catch up with China and Russia. Major utility provider Duke Energy has announced that it plans to have SMRs online by 2035 – by which time Russia and China will likely have dozens.

While there are certainly legitimate concerns that scaling up nuclear power could cost employees at fossil fuels companies their jobs, nuclear energy still requires significant manpower. Moreover, “Nuclear Power Reactor Operator” is among the highest paying blue collar jobs in America, and many nuclear power jobs are safer than traditional coal or oil jobs.

SMRs – particularly with breakthroughs like Sheffield Forgemasters’ new wielding technology – could redefine America’s energy future. But only if politics and liberal special interests don’t get in the way.

Andrew Shirley is a veteran speechwriter and AMAC Newsline columnist. His commentary can be found on X at @AA_Shirley.

We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...

The AMAC Action Logo

Support AMAC Action. Our 501 (C)(4) advances initiatives on Capitol Hill, in the state legislatures, and at the local level to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, and the rule of law.

Donate Now