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Babcock & Wilcox Company Introduces Scalable Nuclear Energy Plant Concept; MoU with TVA

The Babcock & Wilcox Company (B&W) plans to deploy a North American-manufactured, scalable nuclear reactor. The B&W mPower reactor design is a passively safe Advanced Light Water Reactor (ALWR) with a below-ground containment structure. This optimized ALWR represents a Generation III++ nuclear technology that B&W believes can be certified, manufactured and operated within today’s existing US regulatory, industrial supply chain and utility operational infrastructure.

B&W mPower integral modular reactor design (left) and single module inside its own underground containment (right). Click to enlarge.

The scalable nature of nuclear plants built around the B&W mPower reactor would provide customers with practical power increments of 125 MWe to meet local energy needs within power grid and plant site constraints.

B&W expects the use of proven ALWR design features, together with a passive safety philosophy, to minimize plant licensing challenges, enhance safety performance and contribute to reliable plant operation.

The Nuclear Steam Supply System (NSSS) would be manufactured in existing B&W facilities in North America and then rail-shipped to construction sites. A planned five-year operating cycle without refueling is intended to provide a low-cost approach to plant operations. Used fuel is stored in the spent fuel pool for life of the reactor (60 years).

Nuclear security and near-term management of used fuel would be improved through the underground containment design that accommodates storage of fuel for the planned 60-year life of the reactor.

B&W has more than 50 years of continuous reactor engineering and manufacturing.

When we started looking at the best way to match up B&W's nuclear manufacturing, engineering and licensing expertise with the emerging needs of the commercial nuclear renaissance, it was clear that we could lead the scalable, modular reactor field.

—Brandon Bethards, CEO of B&W

B&W has formed a new business unit, B&W Modular Nuclear Energy, LLC, to lead the development, licensing and delivery of B&W mPower reactor projects.

B&W has notified the NRC of its intent to submit an application for design certification of the reactor in 2011. The company has also assembled a global team of potential future customers to support the development of the reactor to make sure it meets customer and regulatory requirements in North America, Europe and elsewhere.

A Letter of Intent has been received from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to begin the process of evaluating a potential lead plant site for the B&W mPower reactor. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by B&W, TVA and a consortium of regional municipal and cooperative utilities to explore the construction of a fleet of B&W mPower reactors to meet the consortium’s need to diversify its power generation assets.



Fascinating that this item finds a home here at GCC. Is the tide turning?


There are many reactor proposed designs out there in this power range.

IRIS, NuScale, PRISM, Hyperion, Toshiba 4S. Nothing new here. The most up to date info puts the Toshiba 4S as the one to be licensed first. But I wouldn't hold my breath on any of these designs being adopted widely which would greatly affect the capital costs that these manufacturers put out since they require mass production and adoption.

In the case of this reactor, a refueling period of 5 years puts the enrichment of this reactor probably within the similar parameters of the IRIS, ie 5-9%.

Although there are some advantages of developing smaller reactors, I don't think that scaling them smaller creates enough advantages to offset the costs of nuclear while hampering the greatest advantage that baseline nuclear has recently which is its operational generation cost. Even with that, nuclear cannot really compete unless carbon costs are put into the equation. That is the ultimate reason why nothing has been built for so long and why utilities demand gov't support for the building of reactors.


I think these low maintenance units could be installed at military bases around the country. Many Air Force Bases are already storing nuclear material, and there are also many weapons depots around the country that store nuclear material. Most bases also have ample land for a scaled up low maintenance project like this. Security & environmental protection issues are solved under this plan - just need some agreements to allow maintenance people to look at the units every now and then & get the offsite transmission line easements set up.


The Nuclear Renaissanc is proceeding, if that is Clueless and his clowns, don't derail it. Thirty five new larger, perfected and walk-away safe, nuclear plants are in the pipeline to be constructed. The Utilities who are buying them have spent tens of millions each in obtaining property, doing and getting EIS approvals, applying for and in the process of obtaining, NRC Combined Constuction & Operation licenses.

When gound is broken for the first one in late 2010, a wave will follow and by mid-decade the US electrical energy supply will get cleaner as nuclear's share grows from 20% to around 35-40% of all electrical generation.

These baseload plants will allow many old coal plants, with minimal pollution abatement equipnent, to be scrapped, cleaning the air even more than it is today.

These new plants will also provide the electricity for our coming fleets of electrified autos, that will also help clear the air, although our efforts at cleaning the ICE have succeeded to the point that new PZEV ICE powered cars, are actually ZERO Pollution Vehicles, as the hard-to-please California enviros designate them to be.


It's comments like ExDemo's that are unexceptable to any reasonable discussion on the subject of nuclear power.

In the 70s, there were hundreds of applications for nuclear reactors in the US. An inferred intent is not and cannot be taken as a fact that any of the reactor will in fact be made.

The economy is in a recession. Even before it, money didn't go into the nuclear option. There is even less desire to so now except on the desire of utilities who openly say that they will do it only if it is heavily gov't subsidized (ie Duke energy). As well, power requirement projections are now sqewed back due to it.

I believe that at least one reactor plan was scrapped recently in the US because it wanted an exemption to the law and wanted to charge it's subscribers for the cost of the plant before it was to be built, in direct contravention of some of the earliest consumer protection utility laws.

As for the economy building of reactors, the EPR is now years behind schedule opening and 50% above estimated costs.

As a side note, in recent years, the US was able to put in 5000MW in 2006-07 which had a 33-35% capacity factor for 9 billion. This is the equivalent of 2 1GW nuclear reactors. 9 billion is the mid equivalent of just 1 reactor according to figure from utilities.

According to congressional science papers, there will be little addition to the US's present fleet and without that kind of blind support, there will not be large scale nuclear building of any kind. If there is nuclear being built it will more likely be in the developing economies like India.

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