Nuclear: Gas-cooled small modular reactors, an African solution
It was two dramatic nuclear bomb blasts which brought World War II in the Far Eastern Theatre to a close in 1945. The public worldwide instantaneously learnt of the power of nuclear reactions, writes Dr Kelvin Kemm, nuclear physicist.
But then immediately after the war, the focus shifted to developing very small nuclear power packs specifically for use in submarines. During WW II submarines had played a major role in the war at sea, but a huge disadvantage they had was that when submerged they ran on electric motors, powered by batteries. The batteries only gave them power for about one day, so every night subs had to surface to charge batteries, using diesel engines, which vented their exhausts to the atmosphere. On the surface, a submarine was very vulnerable to enemy attack.
So a dream evolved to develop a nuclear power pack for a submarine which would enable it to stay submerged for days at a time, maybe even weeks. This goal was achieved, and famously the American Navy submarine USS Nautilus in 1958 travelled all the way under the Arctic ice cap passing the North Pole on 3 August.
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