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Westinghouse and Ameren Missouri partner in pursuit of DOE funds to develop and license small modular reactor technology

Westinghouse Electric Company and utility Ameren Missouri have entered into an agreement to respond collaboratively to the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for developing and licensing the Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor (SMR).

Under the terms of the agreement, Ameren Missouri will become part of and co-chair a Westinghouse-led Utility Participation Group (UPG) made up of Missouri utilities, non-Missouri utilities and industrial firms interested in seeking the DOE funds to develop and license the Westinghouse SMR technology, which includes a phased economic development approach associated with the SMR program for the State of Missouri.

Upon securing DOE support, Westinghouse and Ameren Missouri will then work collectively to seek Design Certification of the Westinghouse SMR and a combined construction and operating license with the US NRC for the Westinghouse SMR at Ameren Missouri’s Callaway site.

The Westinghouse SMR is a 225 MWe integral pressurized water reactor (PWR), with all primary components located inside of the reactor vessel. It utilizes passive safety systems and proven components, as well as modular construction techniques—all realized and already licensed in the AP1000 reactor—to achieve the highest level of safety and reduced number of components required.

We are excited and eager to begin this historic alliance with Missouri and Ameren to advance nuclear technology and bring economic development benefits to Missouri. The endorsement of the governor and the backing and support of so many state legislators, local officials and workforce-infrastructure leaders make our strategy for application unmatched in political and geographic strength.

As Westinghouse surveyed the possibilities for partners, we were especially impressed with the unity of the Missouri Electricity Alliance. The diversity of public and private providers represented by the alliance is a powerful statement to the Department of Energy that there is a US market for SMRs.

The award of investment funds could help ensure that Westinghouse be the first mover in the SMR market, secure the global export home-base for Missouri and create the potential for emissions-free baseload energy for Ameren Missouri, the Missouri Electricity Alliance and their customers.

The DOE invested in the rapid development of large reactors 10 years ago; that faith in Westinghouse ingenuity resulted in the AP1000—the first and only passive plant to be licensed, and the first new nuclear plant construction to be started in the US in 30 years. The alliance with all of our Missouri partners represents an unprecedentedly powerful case for SMR investment funding. We intend to compete for funds and win again.

—Westinghouse Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President Dr. Kate Jackson

The Westinghouse AP1000 reactor is the only Generation III+ reactor to receive Design Certification from the US NRC, initially in 2006 and again in 2011. Currently, four AP1000 units are being built in China with the first unit expected to come online in 2013, and another four AP1000 units are being built in the United States, the first unit of which is expected to come online in 2016.

Through cost-share agreements with private industry, the Department of Energy is soliciting proposal applications for promising SMR projects that have the potential to be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and achieve commercial operation by 2022. These cost-share agreements will span a five-year period and, subject to Congressional appropriations, provide a total investment of approximately $900 million, with at least 50% provided by private industry.

Westinghouse Electric Company is a group company of Toshiba Corporation.

Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than a century, and serves 1.2 million electric and 126,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. Its service area covers 63 counties and more than 500 towns, including the greater St. Louis area.

Comments

Reel$$

And this is germane to Green Cars in what way again?? And why is it exactly that $450M American tax dollars are going to benefit a Japanese company??

Is there anyone in the Congress paying attention?

Herm

it will power green electric cars?

The money is to certify the SMR in the US, so it seems fair the DOE should help a bit

Paul Lindsey

Reel$$: What do you think is going to recharge electric vehicles? Wind? Solar? If combatting AGW is your goal, here is Dr. James Hansen's opinion of that (starts on pg 5 of the pdf): http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110729_BabyLauren.pdf

If you want to replace coal plants in places where an AP1000 is too big (due to grid size, load demands, transmission capabilities, etc), then a SMR is what you need.

While Westinghous may be owned by a Toshiba, all the mfr'ing (except large Rx vessels) is done in the US. for the AP1000, 90% of the components are made in the US. Even the 16 Rx Coolant Pumps going to the first four AP1000's under construction in China are mfr'ed here.

Herm

Its a miniaturized version of the AP1000, and "no operator intervention needed for 7 days".. but I would prefer an even safer design walk away design.. also at 800MW thermal is not that small a reactor.

Reel$$

Wow... such immediate reaction is - impressive. Herm, how is radiative nuclear fission GREEN?? What is GREEN about a radioactive energy source that produces dangerous toxic waste with a half life of 180,000 years??

Paul - I would prefer to listen to the rantings of Ozzie Ozborne than those of utterly discredited Jimmie Hansen. As for where things are manufactured - why does the nuke industry need taxpayer subsidies? Anymore than oil, gas or ethanol?

Engineer-Poet

What's green about a planet full of radioactive stuff with a half-life of 4.5 billion years?

Oh, yeah.  That's Earth; it's as green as it gets.

Marcel Williams

Practically everything in our universe in radioactive-- including our food and humans themselves. So radiation is part of our natural environment.


The US had a nuclear meltdown and nobody died. The Japanese had three nuclear meltdowns and nobody died. If Chernobyl had used containment structures, no one would have died there either (now they use double containment structures).

And spent fuel is not waste, its a valuable energy commodity legally owned by the government and the tax payers that's potentially worth over $100 trillion in clean energy production with next generation breeder technologies. That's enough to pay off our $15 trillion national debt several times over!

Marcel F. Williams

Davemart

The NRC is proving to be one of the biggest obstacles to progress in the energy world.
Instead of seeking to facilitate clean energy they see their job as puttinng every possible obstacle and cost in it's way, even though the present means of generation are enormously more polluting and dangerous.
Having finally been forced to allow through small reactors, they still keep in place such huge idsincentives that anything other than relatively minor advances on current designs is out of the question.

Davemart

@ Reel:
You have now laid bare your fundamental position. Ill-informed prejudice against nuclear makes you the dupe of every con, such as the ridiculous Rossi.
You really want to start dealing with reality, imperfect as it may be, instead of indulging yourself in fantasies.

You are the definition of a mark, as your wishful thinking and basic scientific illiteracy make you the perfect target.
No doubt you would have been big on Theosophy in the 19th century.

Engineer-Poet

"Now"?  What do you mean, "now"?  It's been obvious for years.

Reel$$

Gee fellas - it's good to be back amongst the followers! "Ill informed prejudice against nuclear...??"

My question was WHY does the American taxpayer have to subsidize a Japanese reactor?? Do we subsidize Toyota's Celica? The Honda Fit? Toshiba just paid $850M to buy a unit of IBM. Why not let the Japanese subsidize a Japanese company?

Marcel, is there an operating plan in place to utilize the $100T in nuke waste assets? How many breeder reactors capable of utilizing this waste are in operation or under construction?

Davemart - you sound awful angry. It is not healthy.

"There are many admirable works in Theosophical literature, which one may read with the greatest profit;" Mahatma Gandhi

Nick Lyons

@Reel$$:

Marcel, is there an operating plan in place to utilize the $100T in nuke waste assets? How many breeder reactors capable of utilizing this waste are in operation or under construction?

The good news is that spent nuclear fuel isn't going anywhere. At some point mankind is going to get a clue and build molten salt reactors which can safely burn this stuff up almost completely, generating lots of heat and power in the process. In the meantime, concrete casks are a perfectly safe place to keep it.

Kit P

“My question was WHY does the American taxpayer have to subsidize a Japanese reactor?? ”

The US is the undisputed world leader in nuclear power. This is why the French and Japanese have invested in US companies. The American nuclear industry is not subsidized. We pay lots of taxes, a lot more than we get back. The investment in licensing the AP1000 has been paid back. During a period of high unemployment, engineers in places like Pittsburgh and Charlotte, NC have working on the detailed design of reactors for China. Paying taxes not drawing unemployment.

It is an American reactor designed by Americans.

@Davemart

The NRC is the most respected regulatory agency in the world. The market for SMR is in developing countries. Will the trust that the NRC provides result in a marketing advantage? Time will tell. The Russian are putting small reactors based on their ice breaker design on barges. Russia has many places where there is not a the massive grid like the US has.

Nick Lyons

@Kit P:

SMRs could be big in Alaska, but I suppose you could call that a developing country in many ways :-) US military is another customer.

Engineer-Poet

SMRs would fit in Hawaii where conventional reactors are too much for the grid.  They'd fit in poorly-connected parts of the US grid, such as the hinterlands.

Something I'd like to see is a version tailored to shift between producing steam for turbines and steam for process heat.  Getting rid of the NG consumption of ethanol plants and producing water hot enough for hydrolysis of lignocellulose would be a huge boost for the economics and slash carbon emissions.

Kit P

@Nick

The overwhelming advantage nuclear has is economy of scale and the elimination of transportation of fuel. The latter is a huge strategic advantage for combat ships. I got my start in the business in the US nuclear navy. Naval nuclear propulsion has a very simple emergency plan. The world's perfect containment is seawater. But it is a little hard on the crew if you get my drift.

After 10 years in the navy, I have spent 30 years in the power industry. Stationary power plants are different if for not other reason, they have neighbors. Nuclear is different because an accident can hurt our neighbors. The USSR, the evil empire, showed a callous disregard for human life and we know what the result were. Nuclear power needs a strong technical base and a strong regulatory base.

If you do not need a lot of power why would you pick a nuke plant with the expensive baggage? I served on nuclear cruisers which seemed like a good idea at the time because to the trend in oil prices. For smaller surface ships to be nuclear powered, oil has to be above about $125/barrel to compensate for the high cost of a nuclear trained crew. My point is the US Navy is very good at small nuclear but the only use when it is good economical or strategic choice.

Alaska has huge amounts of coal, natural gas, and biomass compared to the demand for power. If you need a small power plant, pick one of those.

“They'd fit in poorly-connected parts of the US grid, such as the hinterlands. ”

The US does not have that but the 'hinterlands' is where we put large nuke and coal plants because the US has a very well connected and robust grid. This is why bigger is better when your 'hinterland' is supplying power to places like NYC with nukes.

While 'passive' sounds great, it limits the size of the power plant. All LWR plants have some degree 'passive' protection but above a certain size, forced circulation is required to remove decay heat. The same level of safety can be achieved by adding redundant and diverse power plants.

I have never been a power plant in Japan, It may also be a navy thing because many power plant designers got there start in the navy. We have lots of water tight doors and switch gear is always high in out building. When water gets that high God calls Nohah to build an arc.

Again, I do not see a market for SMR stationary power plants in the US other than prototypes for marketing to third world countries without biomass, coal, or natural gas.

“process heat ”

High temperature gas cooled reactors would fit that need but that is a different program. DOE has a program that is developing a prototype by about 2025 but will not happen in the US until we run out of natural gas.

Engineer-Poet

the 'hinterlands' is where we put large nuke and coal plants because the US has a very well connected and robust grid.

If that's the case, why is there so much difficulty getting wind power out of the Texas panhandle, Iowa and the Dakotas?  There really are thinly-connected parts of the USA, even within a few hundred miles of major population centers (Chicago).

“process heat ”

High temperature gas cooled reactors would fit that need but that is a different program.

PWRs are fine for the energy needs of biomass processing.  The hydrolysis of lignocellulose only requires water at 275°C, well within the capabilities of your average PWR.  A fractional GW of off-peak heat to turn starches and cellulose into monomers and distill the alcohol fermented from them is just what the doctor ordered for the biofuels industry.

Nick Lyons

@Kit P:

I appreciate your point of view.

As I see it, the biggest advantage of SMRs is the M (modular) part. By making everything smaller, it is possible to create modular designs which can be factory-fabricated in US factories and transported to the site for assembly, instead of building massive, almost bespoke structures on site with massive super-expensive forgings which can only be created by a single vendor in Japan. With the existing 1+ GW reactors construction times stretch out, financing costs explode and projects fail or become cost-uncompetitive.

In other words, 'economies of scale' haven't worked well for nuclear power. We need 'economies of mass production'. Quicker, easier builds of smaller, modular reactors promise to be cheaper per KW than huge reactors, even if they have lower thermo efficiency individually.

Combine SMR advantages with molten salt reactors: then we'll really have something.

Engineer-Poet

I'm with you on the MSRs.  Not only does an MSR allow load-following because of the ability to remove xenon and avoid the "xenon pit", the operating temperatures are high enough to do thermochemical work such as reacting organic waste with water to make light gases.  That's a step beyond the PWR, but I wouldn't be one to let perfect be the enemy of good enough.

Kit P

@E-P

Why do you want to get wind power to Chicago? There are 12 large nuke plants around Chicago.

We only produce as much electricity as our customers use. If independent power build more capacity that is needed, why is that a problem for transmission. There are no “thinly-connected parts of the USA”. Thinly populated places have fewer transmission lines because they need fewer, why is that a problem?

LWR can supply all the process heat you need. There are about 104 operating that could economically provide process steam. E-P you bring the us customers. We are looking but our main business is making power. Just one catch, you have to build your processing plant close to the nuke plant.

Just oft the record nuke plants use process steam for process water for various uses, I have seen some presentations where nuke plant to produce potable water instead of power cheaper than current methods.

@Nick

SMR are just a concept. They are paper reactors. They will remain paper reactors until they prove themselves. I am all for incentives to try different things to see how it turns out.

The one of the first thing you do when you build a power project is build a cement batch plant. Solar wind, coal, and nukes all need large amounts of cement.

Every thing else is built in factors. We used to ship the parts to the construction site to be assembled. Nick things we should ship the parts to another factory for assemble. Good idea. How about putting that assemble factory right at the nuke plant? If you check, large nukes are already using modular construction. Check out some pictures. The place looks like a crane factory. Various modules are being assembled and dropped into the plant.

“easier builds of smaller ”

Why do you think small is easier? Why is installing a 225 MWe turbine generator easier that a 1600 MWe turbine generator? The latter just needs a bigger crane.

The mistake many make when thinking about a nuke plant is forgetting about the steam plant. All steam plants have the same basic components. For example, circulating water pumps for the main condenser. Let me explain economy of scale. For this SMR, you have 3 - 50% capacity pumps. For my large nuke you have 3 - 50% capacity pumps. Since my pipes have a larger diameter it may take the welding machine a few minutes longer to to complete the weld. Of course to produce the same about of power you need 7 SMR or 21 circulating water pumps instead of three.

After the power plant is built it has to be tested. It takes the same about of time to test a small pump as a large pump that is assuming you do it right the first time.

When it comes to the time to built and get a power plant running, management is more important than size.

One significant cost of nukes are the people that work there. It take the same number of people to run a small reactor as a large one. The first nuke site I worked at out of the navy produces 2700 MWe with about 1300 people or 0.48 people/MWe.

A SMR would have 2.67 people/MWe. Multiple that the 60 year operating life.

If you need a smaller power plant, a CCGT has smaller construction cost and would only need about 25 people to run it or o.11 people/MWe.

“In other words, 'economies of scale' haven't worked well for nuclear power. ”

Actually it has worked very well. Two examples are plants that were started when the expectation was that it it would cost $500 million and five years to build. One took 7 years and another 12 but they will both run for 20 years longer that expected. They have a capacity factor 10% higher than expected when designed. Both sites are in the permitting process to add a new large reactor. Why?

The average O&M cost of nukes is less than $20 MWh. That is $10-20 MWh less than coal and $30 less than a CCGT with low natural gas prices.

The economy of scale is in the mass production of electricity and the low O&M cost associated with that.

Engineer-Poet
Why do you want to get wind power to Chicago? There are 12 large nuke plants around Chicago.
Illinois consumes a lot of electricity beyond the output of those 12 nukes.  What's the purpose of keeping Iowa from supplying it from wind power?
We only produce as much electricity as our customers use.
A tautology.  How is that electricity produced, and what matches production to demand?
There are no “thinly-connected parts of the USA”. Thinly populated places have fewer transmission lines because they need fewer, why is that a problem?
How well-populated are the areas with nuclear powerplants?  Thinly, I suspect.  Despite this, they have heavy connections to the rest of the grid.  Why not the same for Iowan wind?

I'll answer that:  wind power is not firm.  It requires storage or flexible generation to fill the gap.  Solid-fuel nukes, being unable to avoid the "iodine pit" and follow load, are best used as base-load plants.  Firm power is either base load or has some sort of storage behind it.  Wind is neither.

LWR can supply all the process heat you need.
But they can't supply it within the economic transport distance of the supply of biomass, and I doubt that there's enough industrial acreage near to the plants themselves to handle the potential demand for it.

Iowa's nuclear electric fraction is (IIRC) about 10%, about half of what the nation has.  If Iowa used SMRs to produce electricity at peak and process heat at off-peak, both the nuclear-electric fraction could increase and the fossil-fuel fraction of process heat demands could decrease.

If SMRs are just a concept, tell me what has run the nuclear submarine fleet for the last several decades?  Oh, right:  small, modular, pressurized-water reactors.

danm

Kit-P,
many good points (some i had not considered). But the main point in favor of SMRs might be getting them approved faster. We all know the main obstacle to nukes is political.
If an SMR is less intimidating to the public, it might have a better chance of getting built.

Kit P

@E-P

Let me answer you question a different way. When we were developing small base load biomass renewable energy projects we would look to see if the existing grid could handle the transmission because adding new transmission lines. Even in sparsely populated rural areas, you are often not too far from a substation. Even found some cases where adding renewable energy near the end of transmission service would keep new transmission lines from being needed because demand was increasing in the area.

In other words, if you are going to invest equipment to make electricity you pick a spot closest to a substation and close to where the power is needed. I have lived in both Iowa and Illinois while working at nukes, I would put wind turbines for Illinois in Illinois.

I have a friend who works in the transmission construction business. He tells me some wind project did not do a very good job of picking the locations. Often because the wind farms were built for political reason.

“being unable to avoid the "iodine pit" and follow load,”

All BWR & PWR load follow just fine. Yes, I am an expert. In fact they do it all the time in the EU. A BWR changes the void fraction by change core flow and a PWR adjust the boron concentration. I do not know what kind of engineer you are so maybe you will not understand. My calculation shows five million thermal cycles on a given sections of pipe based on the grid stability in the US. The same pipe in the EU has 35 million cycles because the grid is less stable. Somebody (not me) has to show the regulators that that pipe will not fail due to thermal fatigue over 60 years. Since this pipe is designed to the same code (ASME B31.1) as a coal plant or CCGT, I suspect that thermal fatigue is considered for those plants as well.

What we told the NRC in the FSAR is that the plant is designed to load follow but we do not plan to.

“they have heavy connections to the rest of the grid”

This has nothing to do with local populations. For safety considerations, all US nukes have at least two sources of offsite power separate from the transmission lines delivering power to the grid.

“has some sort of storage behind it.”

As a rule, we do not store power. There are a few exceptions such as pump storage. For the most part energy is stored in that big pipe of coal next to the plant. Need more power, just put more steam into the turbine and feed more coal to the boiler.

“tell me what has run the nuclear submarine fleet for the last several decades”

Those are propulsion reactors not stationary power plants designed to provide huge amounts of electricity. The concept of economy of scale does apply to the navy too. The first nuke air craft carrier had eight reactors about the same size as the nuke cruiser I was on. The next nuke air craft carrier had two bigger reactors. That is a reduction of about 6 reactor operators per watch section.

Like I said, if I needed a ‘small’ 250 MWe power plant I would use fossil fuel. The navy scraped all nuke cruisers when they still had many years of useful life because gas turbines need fewer operators.

Space is limited on ships. The size of the power plant and the sleeping quarters for the crew is limited. Stationary power plants can be a big and heavy as you need them to be. The cost of a big containment building is a one time cost. Bigger means lower post accident pressures and H2 concentrations.

@danm

“But the main point in favor of SMRs might be getting them approved faster.”

There is no reason to think that, big or small the process is the same. Each site requires a site specific EIS done by the NRC. The process will take the same time if is one small reactor or two large reactors. Three years (min) for 225 MWe or 3200 MWe. The cost is the same too. The NRC does not reduce its hour rate in half if the reactor is half the size.

Again think of what you have to do just build a steam plant. The environmental impact is the same for a 1000 MWe of generation. The heat source does not matter. Four X 250 is the same as one X 1000.

Just for the record there is no public or regulatory obstacle that has anything to do with size. The NRC has not refused to issue a operating license, power uprate, or life extension.

If you need small, a CCGT can get a construction permit in 9 months and be built in less than a year if you are good. People like cite the bad examples of nukes taking a long time or failing to get built. Every source of power has its bad examples leading to failure.

Engineer-Poet
if you are going to invest equipment to make electricity you pick a spot closest to a substation and close to where the power is needed.
Hold that thought...
For safety considerations, all US nukes have at least two sources of offsite power separate from the transmission lines delivering power to the grid.
So you're saying that there are EXTRA grid connections built to nuclear plants, for no reason other than that they are nuclear plants and not because the rest of the area requires the power?

So what's the argument against building out the grid to zones with lots of wind again?  I think I missed it in your double-talk.

As a rule, we do not store power. There are a few exceptions such as pump storage. For the most part energy is stored in that big pipe of coal next to the plant. Need more power, just put more steam into the turbine and feed more coal to the boiler.
Yes, exactly.  There has to be a stockpile of something.  The issue is what you're stockpiling, and what the constraints are.
Those are propulsion reactors not stationary power plants designed to provide huge amounts of electricity.
What's the difference besides raw MWth output?  Nothing?  Right.
All BWR & PWR load follow just fine. Yes, I am an expert. In fact they do it all the time in the EU.
Is nuclear physics different in the EU?7  I ask because the issue of I-135 doesn't seem to change with geography or legal regime.  If you power down a LWR a great deal, you'll need a lot of excess reactivity to power up again against the Xe-135 burden.  Excess reactivity costs money.  This has nothing at all to do with thermal cycling, so maybe you won't understand.
If you need small, a CCGT can get a construction permit in 9 months and be built in less than a year if you are good.
That's exactly the argument for SMRs.  Document the need, get the permit, deliver the factory-built packages on trucks; be operating less than 2 years from breaking ground.  What I'd like to see is industrial thermal output during off-peak hours in addition to electric generation.

TexasDesert

Kit-p knows how nuclear plants are operated. I can confirm historically Light Water Plants are designed to be large plants to gain economies of scale, because their operating efficiency was actually not all that good. You have high pressure steam, but at a relatively low temperature.

The Small Modular Reactor effort was supposed to take advantage of cookie cutter approach to make stream lined reactors, but if you apply it to the Light Water Reactors you would lose some economies of scale. Maybe one step forward, and one step back?

The Molten Salt Reactor would be a better fit for a small reactor concept. Its higher operating temperature would recover some of that lost efficiency. To take advantage of the walk-away safety feature the plant would tends to be small in any case.

I could not help but think the Small Modular Reactor is one diabolical plot to exhaust all funding that could possibly be applied to the Molten Salt Reactor in the United States. It seemed to be an over-kill, because the Department of Energy was not going to touch the Molten Salt Reactor; all the directors were against it, due to terrible fear to upset the existing players.

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