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January 20, 2011

Flexblue underwater power plants

France's DCNS is proposing small offshore nuclear power plants called Flexblue.

Akin to the submarines that DCNS has been making for the French navy for 40 years, Flexblue is a cylindrical unit 100 metres in length and 12 to 15 metres in diameter. Inside would be a small nuclear power reactor and well as steam generators, turbines and a generator to produce 50 to 250 MWe.

Kirk Sorensen at Energyfromthorium has been promoting underwater nuclear reactors since at least 2006



The vision is for such a unit to be installed on the seabed under 60 to 100 metres of water, several kilometres from a centre of power demand such as a city, industrial base or remote community which it would serve via underwater cables.



A video released today depicts the unit's deployment under naval guard. It is transported to sea on a heavy lift ship which lowers itself to allow Flexblue to maneuvre under its own power. Descent occurs under the watch of divers before a cutaway view reveals four stories of plant within the hull. The structure is then covered by a net and power is transmitted by cable to shore.

DCNS said it had been working on the Flexblue concept for over two years. It said that both Electricité de France and Areva had "expressed interest in Flexblue's modularity and standardisation." The three companies as well as the CEA are now to begin the next two-year phase of development. Areva-TA already works with DCNS to make small reactors for the French navy.

Awaiting further attention are technical and production options, market potential, competitiveness analyses, proliferation studies as well as safety and security. DCNS wants to demonstrate Flexblue to have a level of safety comparable to Generation-III reactors.
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