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NuScale selects BWXT to start engineering work to manufacture its small modular reactor

NuScale Power has selected Virginia-based BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT) to start the engineering work to manufacture NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR). The decision follows a rigorous 18-month selection process, with expressed interest from 83 companies based in 10 countries, to determine the best company to refine NuScale’s design for manufacturability, assembly, and transportability—the first phase in bringing NuScale’s pioneering design to life.

NuScale’s technology is the world’s first and only SMR to undergo Design Certification review by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and is the country’s frontrunner to compete in the global SMR race, a market estimated by the Nuclear Energy Agency to be more than $100 billion by 2035.

BWXT will immediately start work on this first manufacturing phase of NuScale’s SMR, expected to continue through June 2020. NuScale will contract for the remaining two phases, preparation for fabrication then fabrication, at a later date.

BWXT is a leading supplier of nuclear components and fuel to both the US government and commercial nuclear power industry. It expects to use Pennsylvania-based Precision Custom Components as a component manufacturing contractor on this project.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is scheduled to approve NuScale’s Design Certification application in September 2020. NuScale’s first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, is on track to deploy the country’s first SMR plant in the mid-2020s.

NuScale Power is developing a new modular light water reactor nuclear power plant to supply energy for electrical generation, district heating, desalination, and process heat applications. This small modular reactor (SMR) design features a fully factory-fabricated NuScale Power Module capable of generating 60 MW of electricity using a safer, smaller, and scalable version of pressurized water reactor technology. NuScale’s scalable design—a power plant can house up to 12 individual power modules—offers the benefits of carbon-free energy and reduces the financial commitments associated with gigawatt-sized nuclear facilities.

The majority investor in NuScale is Fluor Corporation, a global engineering, procurement, and construction company with a 60-year history in commercial nuclear power.



Moving to manufacturing.  This is BIG!


When these modular smaller (lower cost) reactors are mass produced, they will probably become one of the way to produce clean base load e-energy.

Lets hope that they will be very transportable (in industrial containers) and more affordable per kWh produced than current large units.


The containment shell is 15 feet in diameter, Harvey.  This won't fit in a container; it will require an industrial transporter.  The weight figure I've seen is 700 tons, though that may include a full load of primary coolant.  (I'm almost certain it does, but I haven't done the calculations.)

This means it can go anywhere a barge can go and over almost any road with enough clearance.

The thing that piqued my interest, though, is that the upgraded 60 MW(e) unit is now sufficient for a mere pair of them to drive the biggest ships on the seas.  The Wartsila-Sulzer RT-flex96C is rated at 80.08 MW and weighs 2300 tons.  If a pair of nuclear reactors at 700 tons each (plus steam turbines) can replace that entire engine AND all its fuel, that is a huge savings in weight and bulk which can be replaced by cargo.  The nuclear plant also allows cruising at 100% power with only a minor bump in cost.  The price of fuel oil today is such that most freighters use "slow steaming" to reduce fuel burn.  Getting goods to market faster and fewer crewman-days of labor to get them there sounds like good economics to me.


Design may have to be modified to reduce the diameter/shape and output power of the containment shell to fit on a wide load ground trailer and/or a very wide body (Russian) cargo plane.

Mass construction and final installation could be done on/adjacent to local airports suited for air transport possibility by jumbo cargo planes.

Design may have to be modified to reduce the diameter/shape
That is not possible.  The form factor is determined by physics and the maximum allowed enrichment level.  ("Physics" being a mystical term to the cargo-cultist HarveyD.)
output power of the containment shell to fit on a wide load ground trailer and/or a very wide body (Russian) cargo plane.
None of these things are going to travel on cargo planes, Russian or otherwise.  Lord only knows what delusion you pulled that from.  I suggest nobody bother to dig into it, as that way lies madness.

I believe that this is one of the more important steps in providing clean safe carbon free power. The other step would be the implementation of a traveling wave reactor that will burn existing nuclear waste, depleted uranium or natural (non enriched) uranium.

Anyway NuScale's reactor weighs 700 tons but is shipped in 3 parts but the largest piece is 65 ft long and 15 ft in diameter. It can be shipped by barge, rail,or truck but the rail and truck options would entail special oversize load handling. The truck option is shown in an illustration. The trailer appears to have 128 wheels.
See NuScale Fab and Assembly

Air transport would not seem to be an option as the heaviest lift aircraft, the An-225 has a load capacity of about 200 T and there is only 1 or 2 of these aircraft in existence.

Thomas Pedersen

Once they get to real series production, the shipment becomes less of a risk. The reactor is shipped without fuel, so there is no risk there, only loss of equipment. And even that is less of a risk with series production, where a replacement can be made. If they make the reactors truly identical (which nobody ever does...), then they could even have a small (2-10) stock of reactors to smooth out hikes and dips in demand.

Many regions world wide would be well served by nuclear + solar, with the latter capturing 60-85% of the power delivery (GWh).


I understand that the goal is to return the reactor/containment cans to the factory for refurbishment every set number of cycles, so interchangeability seems to be baked into the system specs.  That makes it downright easy to have a few units in inventory in case some site has an issue with one.

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