Skip to Content
Climate change

Small nuclear reactors—now with 20 percent more power!

NuScale Power announced today that its small modular nuclear reactors can generate 20 percent more power than the company initially estimated.

Big news for small nukes: The Oregon-based firm hasn’t said much about how the reactors achieved their gains—something about “advanced testing and modeling tools.” But it insists its first planned plant, slated to be built in the next few years, will reap the benefits of the upgrade.

How small is “small”? NuScale Power’s reactors are about 74 feet tall and 15 feet wide—actually a lot smaller than traditional nukes (that’s a traditional plant pictured above), but you still definitely need a crane to lift them.

Why it matters: SMRs, as they’re called, could be a BFD. NuScale’s reactors were the first new designs to reach the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s formal review process in decades. And SMRs in general promise a future in which nuclear power is cheap and easy to export around the world, without fear of weaponization (though admittedly it’s a dream that’s been long deferred). For its part, NuScale says its advance will save costs and put SMRs on a more level playing field with other energy sources.

Deep Dive

Climate change

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

Radar and laser breakthroughs serve humanitarian ends

Innovations in directed-energy systems could save lives and aid disaster recovery.

Why EVs won’t replace hybrid cars anytime soon

Plug-in hybrids won’t get the world to zero emissions, but they can help cut climate impacts somewhat. Toyota is betting they’ll stay in the mix for a while.

This is where Tesla’s former CTO thinks battery recycling is headed

JB Straubel speaks about his company, Redwood Materials, and what challenges loom for batteries.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.