Flowing Light Power System Project



AIR is introducing a technology which was developed by a team of scientist in the Los Alamos area.  The "Flow-Light" system uses a fission reaction that channels the energy through a noble gas that produces UV light. The UV light is then captured by an array of photovoltaic producing electricity. The "Flow-Light" Reactor is a revolutionary shift in providing electricity that does not generate green house gases.



This will entail the building of a small Flow-Light fail-safe reactor that produces UV light for electrical power generation. The "Flow-Light" System technology is a disruptive technology that is ideal for a distributive power grid (Green Grid) eliminating major nodes. The system is compact in size and fail-safe. A 100MW "Flow-Light" Reactor is approximately 20x30x20 feet and may be operated underground. The "Flow-Light" System has employed a novel mechanism for direct conversion of energy to provide a most robust ultra-violet light (UV) power source. The Systems provide an overall efficiency of greater than 45% with the stated additional advantage of operating at temperatures well within the boundaries of current materials (e.g., stainless steel). This project provides a transformational (Green) electrical power technology that can be reproduced in remote areas, to generate low cost electrical power on a scale to meet the electrical power needs of that region.


A technology a compact, fail-safe nuclear power generators that will produce electricity at a per megawatt cost that is dramatically below that of any presently used technology. This technology, the "Flow-Light" System, utilizes a highly efficient proprietary energy production and conversion scheme that generates a flux of fission fragments, fission neutrons, and gamma-ray photons.  This flux excites a noble element converter medium that produces light. This light is then focused onto an array of photovoltaic cells that convert the light into electrical energy for various load applications.  Since the "Flow-Light" system does not utilize conventional thermal cycles for conversion of nuclear energy to electrical energy, costly equipment, such as massive turbines and generators, is not required.


System Performance:

We are introducing a new high power technology in a small volume that is fail-safe. This technology has the ability to range from 25MW up to 100MW. The size of the building does not change. The only change is the number of photovoltaic cells in the room. The "Flow-Light" system is able to produce the desired MW at a constant 24/7.

             Nuclear Plant Comparison Concept pictures jpg

Figure 1: "Flow-Light" Facility Concept             Figure 2: Facility Visual Concept




The inherent safety factor in the "Flow-Light" technology results from the fact that it utilizes small inventories of particulate nuclear fuel (i.e., no large solid fuel rods). The "Flow-Light" technology requires a self-contained pressurized medium that will shut down (failsafe), if the medium is disrupted. The "Flow-Light" system produces less radiation than having an x-ray taken. The unit produces little to no heat so no nuclear waste would be created to cool the system. A terrorist attack would not create a radiation leak. 

Figure 3: Simplified "Flow-Light" Electrical Power Generation



The Physics:

The most compact and efficient power source for producing light energy is clearly derived from nuclear energy.  Thus, the advantages of compactness, efficiency, and scalability are significant.   In the "Flow-Light" system, the light generation action is as follows: The end result of depositing nuclear radiations (neutrons, gammas and fission-fragments) in the light conversion media is production of electrons uniformly throughout the dense converter media. The electrons then cause ionization and excitation. Specifically, neutrons undergo n,gamma capture, and then Compton scattering of gammas produces electrons. Fission-fragments also produce electrons (delta rays) volumetrically. The mean free paths for these processes in the dense converter media proposed are relatively short and the processes for electron production are relatively high. Success has been shown in direct excitation of excimer systems by electrons, photons and alpha particles, and indirectly by nuclear radiation in small volume systems.


Unique Fuel Feed:

The "Flow Light" Reactor operates in a manner similar to a continuous feed furnace. The raw materials used are UF6, 20% enrichment and a noble gas. UF6 is a gaseous form of uranium. The UF6 is a gas that is a byproduct of typical nuclear power plants. The "Flow-Light" system recycles these gasses. The raw materials then enter the reactor chamber where the nuclear fission reaction occurs.  The process itself creates a counter balance between reactor power and fuel density.  Should the reactor power increase too rapidly, the fuel density automatically decreases resulting in a reactor power decrease without the need for active power controls.  As an added measure of safety, control (drums) rods are in place to further slow the reactor process as a redundant active control measure. The system utilizes re-circulation and scrubbing of the gaseous nuclear fuel mix to virtually eliminate the buildup of solid nuclear reaction byproducts. The process does not require nuclear fuel rods, as in conventional nuclear power plants thus further eliminating a major concern with nuclear safety.

The Efficiencies:

This is a new and proven technology for conversion of the energy available in a nuclear reactor to electrical power.  This concept employs a novel mechanism for direct conversion of fission energy to ultraviolet light (UV).  UV light output from the reactor is then converted to electricity via photovoltaic cells (optimized for UV light).  Conversion efficiencies are 50-80% fission energy to light energy; and 60% light energy to electrical energy.  This provides an overall efficiency of greater than 45%.  These efficiencies exceed those of conventional nuclear power systems, which are typically 20-35%.  Increasing the net conversion efficiency, while significantly reducing plant cost by eliminating the need for turbines, generators, and giant cooling towers, makes the "Flow-Light" systems extremely attractive for commercial power users.


Innovative Unique Approach:

The transformational "Flow-Light" Generator technology is based upon unique applications of known and proven physics. The process is driven by a nuclear reaction in the system that employed a novel mechanism for direct conversion of energy to provide a most robust ultra-violet light (UV) power source. The light is then focused onto an array of photovoltaic cells to convert the light into electrical energy. The process is a radical departure from traditional nuclear power plants in that it does not utilize thermal cycles for conversion of nuclear energy into electricity and thus does not require nuclear fuel rods, cooling towers, massive turbines and radioactive waste remediation. As stated in the Safety paragraph, since the system is a high Q system, if the pressure is disrupted with an increase in pressure or a loss of pressure, the reactor cavity is designed to go non-critical, thus no runaway state.


The Reactor:

In FIGS. 2A and 2B photovoltaic cells are mounted on the inner surface of an annulus 32 which is installed along the walls of the reactor/converter cavity. The annulus is constructed such that it is replaceable at intervals should efficiency decrease due to radiation damage incurred over the life of the reactor. This configuration eliminates the necessity of focusing and transporting the UV radiation outside the core/converter region (10 and 14) by a light pipe 30. Use of the photovoltaic annulus increases the overall efficiency of the system by eliminating UV radiation losses suffered by focusing and transmitting the optical energy.

Outline of Key Technical Areas:

 *Modeling and light characterization data to refine design. 

*Light conversion to electricity design

*Directed energy application of light to the photo-voltaic design

*Perform system design and application analysis.

*Refinement of the high power reactor design

*Finalize 50 MW "Flow-Light" Reactor design



Key Technical Risk:

All major pieces of the "Flow-Light" system have been used and tested in past systems. The risk is that this is the first time all of the components have been integrated into the same system. We judge the risk factor as moderate in building the system, by integrating all components and achieving the efficiencies we have projected through testing and modeling.



We estimate that it will take two years to accomplish the license process, refine the reactor design, build a manufacturing plant, and produce a working unit.


Other Benefits:

This proposed project is transformational because of the unique patented design of the reactor cavity, the reactor, and conversion process. This process provides the reactor system "fail-safe" characteristics, which is inherent in the design. The size of the reactor per watt is smaller than any conventional nuclear power system on the open market. The "Flow-Light" Systems will be prefabricated to ensure quality control, and shipped to the intended site.



The "Flow-Light" Reactor will fit in the market of the US Government. This includes all branches of the military and the "Flow-Light" System once built, will affect very positively in providing an important building block to overhaul the national power system.  The architecture of the Command, Control, and Communication Systems (smart grid) necessary for controlling these large distributive systems will provide an opportunity to fund and manage the studies and development of distributed systems similar to the DOD C3 systems for National Air Defense (JSS System). The concept of a National C3 Power System and a Localized Power C3 Systems will provide local area energy isolation in case of a major disruption with the National Power Management System and provides the United States with reliable green energy and a green grid, bring the United States closer to energy independence by lessening the need for foreign oil. The "Flow-Light" Systems are building blocks to build the national network and provide local electrical power.



The "Flow-Light" Reactor is the next generation of energy technology that is big in impact and is physically small, fail-safe, green, and uses less real estate than other energy technologies per MW. The "Flow-Light" System enhances our economic security with the potential to reduce energy imports from foreign sources.  The "Flow-Light" System has Zero greenhouse gas emissions.  The Technology will move the United States to be leaders in nuclear energy, green grid distributed power networks in developing and deploying advance energy technology. The "Flow-Light" System is truly a transformational system, having a very large impact on the status quo in the power generation industry, but giving them a building block to start rebuilding the power plants and establishing a truly green energy grid with distributed green energy.



Technology Breakthroughs:

There is an enhanced technology required for the production of the "Flow-Light" Reactor which is the improvement, testing, and evaluation of the concentrated UV photovoltaic technology.


Foreseeable Barriers:

There are no foreseeable barriers at this time.



AIR estimates that the capital costs and ongoing operating expenses of a 100MW "Flow-Light" Reactor will cost approximately $2,000 kW/ installed. This is significantly less than one of the all-in costs of traditional coal, natural gas or nuclear fired electrical power plants.



The "Flow-Light" is the best solution because:


*    "Flow-Light" costs one fifth the cost of all power generations

*    The fuel source is recycled nuclear waste gasses

*    Very little radiation

*   No harmful CO2, NOx, CO, VOCs, or PM-10 is produced

*   The unit can be built underground

*   Safe from terrorist attacks

*   There is little to no heat so no nuclear waste is created to cool the unit

*   No turbines or cooling towers are needed

*   Less than 2 pounds of waste material is created per year

*   The technology produces energy at a base line rate

*   There are "fail-safe" measures installed to prevent a runaway state

*   The unit is constructed in a 20x30x20 room

*   Power distribution looks like a power sub-station

*   It takes approximately 18 months for the unit to be constructed

*   The box can be transported to any location in the world