AFTER the events of March 11th 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami led to a meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in Japan, you might be forgiven for concluding that atomic power and seawater don’t mix. Many engineers, though, do not agree. They would like to see more seawater involved, not less. In fact, they have plans to site nuclear power plants in the ocean rather than on land—either floating on the surface or moored beneath it.
At first, this sounds a mad idea. It is not. Land-based power stations are bespoke structures, built by the techniques of civil engineering, in which each is slightly different and teams of specialists come and go according to the phase of the project. Marine stations, by contrast, could be mass-produced in factories using, if not the techniques of the assembly line, then at least those of the shipyard, with crews constantly employed.