Chemical Giant Ponders Small Reactors

March 24, 2022

Bloomberg:

Dow Inc. sees nuclear power as essential in eliminating carbon emissions from its operations and is considering buying electricity from two small nuclear plants in the U.S., Chief Executive Officer Jim Fitterling said. 

The chemical manufacturer, which plans to be “carbon neutral” by 2050, is already one of the world’s top users of renewable energy but the intermittency of wind and solar mean nuclear will become a critical power source, Fitterling said at the World Petrochemical Conference 2022 in Houston Wednesday. 

“We’re in a process right now looking at two sites in the United States to be an offtaker for a small-scale modular reactor,” he said. Nuclear will become “another tool in the arsenal to take us to net zero.” 

The high cost and potential hazards of nuclear power have become major roadblocks for the industry even as the demand for carbon-free power becomes greater with each passing year. Dow believes some of these obstacles can be overcome if companies back small-scale plants potentially tied to major industrial facilities. 

“We need to double down on all forms of energy in this country,” Fitterling said. “If you didn’t think we needed to do that before Russia-Ukraine, you really think we need to do it now.” 

For the chemical industry, there’s another advantage of nuclear power plants, beyond the power they produce: They also generate large quantities of steam, which can be used for some manufacturing operations. 

“A lot of our operations would need that balance,” between electricity and steam, Fitterling said.

One Response to “Chemical Giant Ponders Small Reactors”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    “For the chemical industry, there’s another advantage of nuclear power plants, beyond the power they produce: They also generate large quantities of steam, which can be used for some manufacturing operations. “

    Efficiency depends so much on the context of application. For example, incandescent light bulbs give off heat that cause air conditioners to work harder, but are not as costly to use in areas where heating dominates.

    [In the early days of very expensive LEDs, railroads still calculated them to be cost-effective compared to the cost of replacing incandescent bulbs on remote track switches. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of incandescent bulbs was keeping the switch mechanism from freezing up, which is something the LEDs didn’t do. Later, when towns started replacing traffic lights with early generation LED versions, they discovered the problem of snow covering the front of the lights, and makers had to redesign LED traffic signals to have heating elements.]


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