Air Force to use nuclear micro-reactor to provide long-term electric power and heat to remote base in Alaska

Nov. 11, 2021
Nuclear micro-reactor technology can provide reliable energy, while energy infrastructure and climate at Eielson make for the perfect location.

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska – The U.S. Air Force is installing a next-generation nuclear micro-reactor at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, which is scheduled to go into operation by 2027. New Atlas reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

11 Nov. 2021 -- Supplying electric power to U.S. bases in remote inaccessible regions abroad and within U.S. states and territories often is a formidable task. In the case of Eielson Air Force Base, this means regularly hauling in tons of coal, which is expensive, a logistical nightmare, and ties up personnel better employed elsewhere.

Micro-reactors that produce less than 20 megawatts of power are similar to the small reactors in nuclear-powered submarines. Both types use nuclear fuel that is more highly enriched than in conventional reactors, but micro-reactors are factory-built, modular, and do not always require water for cooling.

This simplified design not only provides electricity, but also direct heat. Because of their large surface-to-volume ratio, micro-reactors are easier to cool and are self-regulating. This means that if the nuclear reaction becomes too robust, the heating naturally tamps down the reaction, which eliminates the need for a large crew of skilled operators. In addition, they only need to be refueled once every 10 years.

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John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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