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Holtec to press on with small modular reactor development

Staff Report
Published Jan. 7, 2013

Holtec International says it will continue to work on developing a small modular reactor despite losing out in the first round of funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

In a newsletter posted Friday that reviewed 2012 developments, the Marlton, N.J.-based company noted that it made significant progress in developing the first SMR-160 unit.

“The development of our small modular reactor, SMR-160, continued apace in 2012 with nine new patent filings and completion of the preliminary design of all safety significant systems,” Holtec said.

Previous coverage

Babcock & Wilcox receives grant to develop small modular reactors

It added that the initiation of “a number of topical reports, that quantify the various safety margins in SMR-160, which began in 2012, will continue into the next year.”

The company also noted that during the past year it had signed a memorandum of agreement with the Energy Department to build the first SMR-160 unit at the Savannah River National Laboratory grounds.

Holtec was one of four companies that applied for a grant from the federal government to develop small modular reactors.

Back in March, the Energy Department said it would award up to $452 million to companies to develop small modular reactor projects. Observers believed DOE would split the money in half, awarding two companies each $226 million to come up with a product.

But just before Thanksgiving, the Energy Department announced that Charlotte, N.C.-based Babcock & Wilcox would receive the first award. B&W is partnering with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bechtel International.

The Energy Department did not announce a reward amount, but added it plans to issue a follow-on solicitation open to other companies and manufacturers, focused on furthering small modular reactor efficiency, operations and design.

That appears to have left the door open for Holtec and NuScale Power of Corvallis, Ore., which also sought the grant and has an agreement to build a small reactor unit at the Aiken County nuclear research facility.

A fourth company that sought the grant money, Westinghouse Electric, plans to develop its SMR project at the Callaway Energy Center in central Missouri.

Gen4 Energy, which has an agreement with the Savannah River Site to develop a small reactor unit on the site, did not apply for the Energy Department grant.

SMR development at Savannah River could be in jeopardy. In early November, the Energy Department directed contractors at the Savannah River Site to stop using agency funds for the SMR program.

The funds had been earmarked for environmental management programs at the Savannah River Site, and not for the SMR program, a spokeswoman said.

Although two of the companies it has agreements with lost out on in the first round of federal funding, the Savannah River Site will see what it can do to further work on small reactors, those that generate less than 300 megawatts of power, a spokeswoman said.

It’s possible that more private funding will be sought for the SMR program at the Savannah River Site, said spokeswoman Barbara Smoak.

“We still feel that the Savannah River Site has a lot to offer in the development of that technology,” she added.

Both Holtec and NuScale also have agreements with NuHub, the commercial nuclear advocacy group in the Midlands, for small modular reactor development at the Savannah River Site.

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Added: 7 Jan 2013

Actually, there were five firms whose SMR's were reviewed by the DOE. The fifth was a hybrid-nuclear proposal that marries a graphite nuclear reactor and a combustion turbine. While technically a small modular reactor, the patented hybrid is actually a 850 megawatt power plant that salvages the billions of taxpayer dollars invested in the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). Please see our website at Regards, Mike Keller President & CEO Hybrid Power Technologies LLC

Mike Keller