Safety Concerns Delay Approval of the First U.S. Nuclear Reactor in Decades

From Scientific American

A new era for nuclear power is taking shape as third-generation reactors, designed to be simpler and safer, inch through the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) design certification process. Much of nuclear's revival hinges on the ability of new reactors to outshine those of yore in terms of safety, economics, construction time and life span.

Of the 26 new reactor applications under current NRC scrutiny, 14 are for Westinghouse Electric Co.'s AP1000 pressurized water reactor. What sets the reactor apart is its modular design and passive safety system: Instead of relying on an operator or electronic feedback to shut down the reactor should it overheat, it employs the natural forces of gravity, convection and air circulation.

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