Selling Refrigerators to Floridians

There is an old saw about the skills of a salesman who is so persuasive that he was able to sell refrigerators to Eskimos. The whole idea is that Eskimos do not need refrigerators because they live in the frozen Arctic, but they buy the refrigerators against their better judgement because of the salesman.

Well, this post is about the refrigerator that no one bought, not even Floridians, who along with the rest of us really need refrigerators.

Below are the specifications for a reactor that was designed to produce 50 Megawatts thermal power and 20 Megawatts electrical power and it just happens to be the size of a modest sized refrigerator (19.6 cubic feet). You can read the whole paper here.19 point 7 cubic foot refrigerator

Here are the specifications:

Refrigerator sized reactor specsThis reactor is powered by uranium not thorium, but so what.  The thing I found interesting is that it was designed in 1955 by H. A. Ohlgren of the Engineering Research Institute at the University of Michigan. 1955! More than half a century ago!

I keep coming back to the fact that these amazing machines could have powered our civilization for the benefit of all, but for reasons that were both banal and nefarious we are still burning fossil fuels. (See Rod Adam’s Smoking Gun Archives.)

I live in Brigham City, Utah, a community of 18,000, whose peak electrical usage is ~30 megawatts and we pay premium rates if we exceed 30 MW. I like to imagine this refrigerator-sized reactor providing 20 MW of base load day and night. We could put it almost anywhere.

Who says geeks can’t be dreamers?


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