There was a time when nuclear power plants were going to save the world. Barring accidents, the plants are clean and generate a lot of power. However, a few high-profile accidents and increased public awareness of some key issues have made nuclear power a hard sell, at least in the United States. The fastest growing nuclear power-related business in the US — according to sources — is companies decommissioning nuclear power plants. However, there’s a move afoot to make nuclear power a viable solution again. The company behind it says their plants will be cheaper to build, cheaper to operate, and are much safer than conventional plants. Are those claims reasonable? Nuclear fission plants are simple to understand because, at their core, they are just conventional steam generators. There is usually a clean water loop that gets heated to steam, turns a turbine, and that spins a conventional generator. If I told you the heating occurs through burning coal, natural gas, or some other fuel, this would describe a typical power generator — save hydroelectric, which uses water pressure to run the turbine. In a typical nuclear plant, the water is heated by another steam/water loop. This pri...