Every organization must reduce its carbon footprint, and the US Military is no exception. As one of the largest buyers and consumers of fossil fuels, there are a lot of opportunities to improve. However, it’s easier said than done, and you want to have plenty of energy to get the job done in potential life and death situations.
Nuclear energy is reliable and can output immense quantities of power, 1 to 5 megawatt. But to make it available to the theater of operations, it also needs to be… mobile! The US military has selected BWXT and other contractors to build such a generation IV transportable nuclear reactor to prove the concept.
The design calls for a nuclear reactor that is small enough to fit in a 6-meters long shipping container for easy transportation. It should also be easy to put into operations, and ideally, it would be up and running within a week from the shipping time.
The reactor could also be deployed in disaster zones that have lost power, and hopefully, it won’t create a disaster of its own. The idea that it could get targeted by enemy forces is not reassuring, but risk management has gone a long way since this idea was considered in the 60s and 70s.
The fuel is not as enriched (less radioactive), and the containment vessels and technologies are much better these days. The DoD says that even if the containment vessel were to fail, it would not be “catastrophic.”
The electrification of the military will take a long time, but having vast amounts of electric power could prove to be very useful not for logistical and net-zero carbon reasons. It could also power direct energy weapons such as lasers or microwave beams. These could prove to be the ultimate projectile interceptors.