Futuristic nuclear energy tech is here, but the risks of bombs and another Chernobyl remain 

Salon, June 2, 2024 —

Microreactors promise climate resilience and military-tech might — but proliferation and pollution concerns linger 

Rae Hodge, Staff Reporter 

James Walker thinks it’s time to change the story we tell ourselves about nuclear energy in the United States. 

“It’s got the worst public relations history of any form of energy really,” Walker tells me in a video call from his office. “If you take all methods of generating energy — whether it’s wind, solar, gas, coal, everything — and if you want to look at deaths per gigawatt hour, nuclear beats out everything. It is the safest form of energy already. So that’s a good way to start.” 

Walker is the CEO and head of reactor development at NANO Nuclear Energy. And he may have gotten his wish on Wednesday when President Joe Biden rolled out his administration’s multi-billion-dollar funding plan for U.S. nuclear energy projects, all aimed at meeting the country’s 2035 goal of a carbon-free power sector. The plan includes large plant development, like Georgia’s $36.8 billion Plant Vogtle expansion, as well as a fleet of cutting edge small-nuclear tech. 

NANO makes small modular reactors (SMRs) and microreactors. Basically, these are advanced nuclear power plants that can produce an astonishing 7.2 million kilowatt hours per day depending on the model, but can still fit inside the trailer of an 18-wheeler. While most microreactors can output up to 20 megawatts in order to reach that number, NANO’s models emphasize the micro — with output capped at about 5 megawatts of thermal energy for conversion to electric. 

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on the West Valley Citizen Task Force, please contact:

Nancy Raca, Facilitator
West Valley Citizen Task Force
c/o Highland Planning