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Westinghouse Electric to pursue small modular reactor grant

Staff Report
Published April 9, 2013

Westinghouse Electric says it will apply for a second round of federal funding to develop a small modular reactor.

Based in Pittsburgh, Westinghouse was one of three companies that lost in the first round of funding, which was awarded in November to Charlotte-headquartered Babcock & Wilcox.

At least two other companies are competing with Westinghouse for a share of $452 million Congress appropriated to the U.S. Department of Energy to develop technology to build a small modular reactor, also referred to as a SMR.

One of those firms, Holtec International, has the backing of the state of South Carolina and NuHub, the commercial nuclear advocacy group in the Midlands, to develop SMR technology at the Savannah River Site in Aiken County.

Westinghouse is developing its SMR project — a 225-megawatt integral pressurized water reactor — with Ameren at the electric company’s Callaway Energy Center near Fulton, Mo.

In February, Westinghouse announced it is fabricating small modular reactor prototype fuel assemblies for testing at its Columbia facility. The project also includes full-scale testing of assemblies and simulated reactor operation.

Design work on the SMR fuel assembly began in 2011 and is based on the Westinghouse’s fuel assembly technology, which will be used in eight Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power units under construction in China, Georgia and South Carolina.

Two of those AP1000 units are at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, about 28 miles northwest of Columbia. The power plant is owned by South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper.

Small modular units are about one-third the size of current nuclear power reactors, generating no more than 300 megawatts.

SMR proposals would have to offer “innovative and effective solutions for enhanced safety, operations and performance,” the Energy Department said. And, at least 50% of the project has to be funded from private sources.

The Energy Department added that it favors designs that can be made in factories and hauled to sites where it would be ready to “plug and play” upon arrival.

Related coverage

Westinghouse Electric takes next step in SMR fuel production
NuHub, S.C. to back Holtec International in quest for small reactor project
S.C. back in the hunt for developing small modular reactors

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