Neighborhood Micro-Nuclear

Happy global warming scenarios like the methanetime bomb  have the tendency to push my imagination toward delusional futuristic realms in which hastily built nuclear reactors sprout up in urban neighborhoods as a last resort.  But that’s just me.  And James Lovelock.

Of course that’s no nuclear power plant cooling tower in the photo above — it’s the Temple de Hirsch Sinai Alhadeff Sanctuary at 16th and Pike in the Central District, built in 1960 and designed by B. Marcus Priteca, who also designed the Langston Hughes Center.

But hold on: the thing is, micro-nuclear is not just a delusion.  Google “micro-nuclear” and the first hit announces this:

Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.

WTF you say?  How could you not have heard about this before?  And um, wouldn’t there be preposterous security and safety risks with such a system?

And so while you’re still furrowing your brow over this, you think, well, technology moves so fast it’s impossible to keep up with it all, and anyway you’ve probably got lots of other things to think about right now, you need to check your facebook, so you just file this one away for the time being, maybe to bring it up casually a few days later over drinks with friends.

Or, perhaps your curiosity drives you to take another 30 seconds and drill a bit further down the list of google hits, and just maybe you get lucky like I did and you click on hit number 12:

This story got picked up by Dvorak Uncensored, Engadget, Gizmodo, Wired, and others. Strangely, I could find no mention of this on Toshiba’s main corporate site, and I know they do some stuff with nuclear reactors in Japan. Eventually, someone actually asked Toshiba about it and confirmed it was a hoax.

Isn’t the information age fabulous?

12 Responses to “Neighborhood Micro-Nuclear”

  1. Ellery

    how utterly hilarious and terrifying.

  2. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    You could have gotten a photo of UW’s real research nuclear reactor site. Of course it was only 100kW (for comparison, Three Mile Island was 802MW or 802000kW. Reed College claims their 250 kW reactor produces only about 10 times as much as a home heating furnace. Oh well.

  3. NanoThermiteTermite

    “All nukes is bad nukes” is the new “No nukes is good nukes”…

    Besides, don’t you people have to clean up Hanford, and make sense out of that ticking, enormo, unattended-to superdoopermess, before you can even BEGIN to even OVERHEAR about how OTHER people now are mis-hallucinating new, carbon-friendly ‘nucular energy stations’ — especially as some kind of recklessly uncanny ‘alternative temples’ in this ‘’/Peak Oil/End-Times Paradigm-store “Scarcity Religion” you all are so busy feverishly engineering?

    “Timmy, finish the rest of the ultratoxic cake you have on your 20th Century dessert plate; if you want more after that, in four billion years or so, THEN you can have more.”

    I would have to vote no on nuclear power stations of any size being constructed at all, even on side streets in ‘Second Life’, let alone on Capital Hill or in neighboring municipalities; or indeed anywhere else wheresoever wherein organic beings (of any kind) still currently find themselves, kindasorta, still, you know,’living’.

    (Just my .02 cents’ worth.)


  4. NanoThermiteTermite

    P.S. (“Capital Hill” is a typo, above. I meant, of course, ‘Capitol Hill’.)

  5. Matt the Engineer

    I’d much rather see investments in concentrating solar and wind than nuclear, but if political forces bring us to nuclear then I think there are ways of building nuclear much smarter than before.

    Actually, building them far enough to not be a direct threat but no further could be a huge benefit. Just dump waste heat into supply water and we’d all have pre-heated hot water and even free heat for heat pumps in the winter. From an engineering perspective nuclear is a beautiful solution. It’s just the real world that gets in the way (fear, money, prior accidents, politics, value engineering).

    I’d actually heard of the micro-nuclear thing a few years ago at the conceptual stage. But maybe it was just at a lower level of hoax back then.

  6. BrianK

    NASA has been powering spacecraft for years with tiny nuclear generators. They’re much less efficient and powerful but 100% more real.

  7. kt

    Ah Matt, science is pure and perfect, it’s the humans who do not manage things well. I don’t trust people with that kind of tool. Sorry.

  8. Jeff

    “isn’t the information age fabulous?”

    It would be better if people would post working links.

  9. NBeaconJon

    #3, #7…it’s here, it’s safe, it’s a million times more cost effective. Has Gore/Soros/Sierra Club piled on the fear so thick that it’s clouding your judgement of nuclear power?

  10. Dan Staley


    If its so safe, you’ll agree, then, to be part of the ‘neighborhood trial’ that seeks to store spent nuke fuel under children’s beds. We can get under the standard trundle bed (not the “Cars” design, but most Disney beds) three 25-gal drums.

    How many do we sign you up for?

    Let us know and I’ll work on shipment as soon as the Interstate Commerce rules are clarified.

  11. Matt the Engineer

    Way to lower the level of debate, Dan. Where should we send your share of radioactive and toxic coal biproducts?

  12. Dan Staley

    I wasn’t aware that pointing out pro-nuke ‘safe’ arguments usually conveniently forget to mention that we have no effective waste disposal program was lowering the level of debate, Matt. Sure, I did it in a ‘Dan’ way due to the Aaaaaaal Goooooore!!!! taunt, but I guess we learn something every day.

Leave a Reply