Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are economically competitive nuclear power systems aimed to provide sustainable clean safe and reliable nuclear energy free from the risk of fissile material proliferation. They are smaller versions of the present-day large nuclear power reactors with additional design simplifications, improved and reliable passive safety systems incorporating innovative concepts. With the intrinsic advantage of high power density and carbon-free emissions, SMRs and especially their innovative features are the signals for a nuclear comeback, or in Dr Alvin Weinberg’s words “the second nuclear era” in many ways. According to some estimates, there could be up to 96 SMRs by 2030. This paper addresses three vital areas to the understanding of the SMR’s in emerging global environments: (i) design, (ii) production of plutonium during operation, and (iii) their scope of applications. A representative, though very small SMR, Toshiba’s innovative 4S design is used for presenting estimates of plutonium production which are applicable to other SMRs as well. To better understand the viability of SMRs, this work considers the emerging developers, exporters and markets where SMRs can make significant improvements to the overall socio-economic development of societies challenged with formidable barriers.

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