Perhaps the “Holy-Grail” of the nuclear industry has been to combine the nuclear gas reactor with a gas turbine to produce power. Gas reactors operate at much higher temperatures than their water reactor cousins and are much more efficient, thereby holding out the promise for low-cost power.
In the 1970’s, General Atomics began the development of the helium cooled, graphite moderated nuclear reactor -- the Gas Turbine- Modular Helium Reactor (GT-MHR). The graphite fuel and air cooling make the plant safer than water reactors. www.ga.com
This technology eventually evolved into the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) with private and taxpayer investment s of well over a billion dollars.Unfortunately, this concept design has been unable to attract sufficient commercial interest due to relatively high building costs and relatively small output. The NGNP program was shelved in late 2011 by the US Department of Energy. However, the Next Generation Nuclear Plant Alliance, an international consortium continues to move forward – www.ngnpalliance.org.
History now leads us to a quantum leap, the technology of the unique hybrid-nuclear family of energy production plants.