11 September 2009 – Reports from Namibia are that the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor company has its sights set on Namibia with a smaller design suitable for off-grid generation in remote areas.
According to Tom Ferreira, PBMR spokesperson, the company is working on a new design aimed at producing electricity and process heat.
“In the new design, helium is still used as a coolant, but the helium transfers the energy absorbed in the core to a secondary loop through a special heat exchanger called a steam generator. The secondary side of the steam generator contains water. The heat absorbed, changes the water to steam which, in turn, is used to drive a steam turbine connected to a generator to produce electricity in the same way conventional power stations operate. In this configuration, the reactor is an electricity producing plant.”
The reactors being designed by PBMR are meant to relatively small (approx 200MW) and modular, so they can be added on to at any time if increased capacity is needed. Says Ferreira, “One of the main challenges of the electrification of Africa is the large distances between settlements, especially in rural areas. This factor sends reticulation costs rocketing, which means that new electrification options have to be found. The PBMR is a solution, especially since it can operate in isolation anywhere.”