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PostPosted: May 22, 2012 12:14 am 
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Some news update on Department of Energy's Small Modular Reactor program:

Gen4 Energy has announced their withdrawal from the SMR program. They were developing a reactor with lead bismuth coolant. I believe they were the last vender with non-water coolant before their withdrawal.

Westinghouse has announced their entry into the SMR program, with a smaller version of their Light Water Reactor.

I am now viewing this program as a way to prevent new reactor research at the cost of 500 million dollars. This sucks up all research money that could otherwise be applied to other projects, and it also heads off any venture funding of alternative small reactors.


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PostPosted: May 22, 2012 2:43 pm 
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There were certain flaws to how the program was constructed, and of course these flaws were not random but designed from the start to benefit the existing nuclear industry players who co-fund many DOE nuclear researches.

First, this is a jointly funded project. The vendor has to put up one dollar for every dollar DOE matches. This holds back small vendors but is a benefit to the large vendors.

Second, project evaluation looks at NRC licensing path. It is well known that the current NRC licensing rules were written for Light Water Reactors.

This is of course horrible for any potential venture funds doing alternative reactors, because a Small Modular Reactor entry from Westinghouse could get up to 500 million dollar government money and be ahead in development phases, while their own designs are stuck on paper.


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PostPosted: Feb 28, 2014 6:40 pm 
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New developments from the first SMR awardee, B&W's mPower:

No sale: Babcock & Wilcox can’t find buyer for Generation mPower


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PostPosted: Feb 28, 2014 6:41 pm 
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And of course this older news from an SMR concept that didn't get a DOE award, Westinghouse:

Westinghouse slows small reactor development


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PostPosted: Mar 29, 2014 9:57 am 
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Company stumbles have Energy Dept., Capitol Hill worried about $450 million nuclear program

Quote:
Peter Lyons, the assistant secretary of nuclear energy at the department, expressed concern about the Babcock and Wilcox news during a closed-door budget meeting with various groups earlier this month. Lyons said he needed to talk to the company about its plans, according to Autumn Hanna, senior program director with spending watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

"Pete Lyons seems like he was expressing some frustration with that during the budget briefing," Hanna told the Washington Examiner. "It doesn't seem like they're trying to hide that fact."


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PostPosted: Mar 29, 2014 12:32 pm 
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It seems possible to me that two promising technological leaps forward in light water reactor fuel rod designs will be tested and proven and perhaps licensed by the time Babcock and Wilcox (BWC), Westinghouse and NuScale are ready to commercialize their SMR designs, rendering these designs somewhat obsolete at birth. The research into silicon carbide cladding seems to have solved the problem of brazing on end caps. The research into beryllium oxide laced uranium oxide pellets has just proven the ability to manufacture them with consistent results. The latter improves thermal conductivity tremendously, reducing the internal operating temperature and improving safety. The new cladding has been shown to withstand temperatures of up to 1800*C without weakening. Among other things, this is said to enable the fuel to stay in the reactor much longer, decreasing costs. Not to mention eliminating the use of zirconium and its production of hydrogen under loss of coolant accidents, with explosive results (Fukushima). Meanwhile, Lightbridge's all metallic fuel, with its much cooler internal temperatures and cost effective power uprates, appears to be making steady strides toward commercialization. In yesterday's webinar, Lightbridge's Seth Grae stated that their agreement with Babcock and Wilcox to explore a pilot facility for making short test versions of their new fuel rod, seem to have accelerated and morphed into looking for sites suitable for actual production of fuel rods. If this is so, perhaps BWC is thinking about redesigning their mPower to take advantage of the new all-metallic rods they appear to be collaborating with Lightbridge on.


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PostPosted: Dec 11, 2014 9:40 am 
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More cuts in store for Babcock & Wilcox

Quote:
Babcock & Wilcox has notified about 30 Lynchburg employees from its mPower segment this week they will be laid off, a company spokeswoman said.

The lay offs add to about 100 mPower employees B&W cut in June and about 50 mPower employees relocated to other segments in the company in August. That totals a reduction of about 90 percent of the segment’s roughly 200 employees from the beginning of 2014 with this week’s cuts. Most of those changes have occurred in Lynchburg.

The segment’s troubled history officially began about eight months ago, when the company made a public announcement. Since then, the segment — which is primarily based in two locations in Lynchburg — has been severely pared down, with one facility suspending operations for now.

B&W announced a funding reduction in April for mPower from the $81 million in 2013 to $15 million starting in July. The company announced at the time it was unable to secure the investors needed to continue funding its mPower program at its current level.

Its only source of funding outside of the company’s coffers was the Department of Energy’s cost-sharing program, but the segment’s activities slumped “with a related decrease in the recognition of the cost-sharing award from the DOE under the Cooperative Agreement totaling $10.9 million,” according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that reported on the company’s third quarter.

MPower researches and develops designs for small modular nuclear reactors, a new field of technology propelled by the idea of establishing nuclear energy power plants at a smaller price — and with smaller energy output — than a standard nuclear power plant. No SMR designs have yet been completed or licensed, according to the DOE, and mPower generates very little if any revenue compared to the company’s other segments. Its operating costs are too steep to make a profit.

Employees in the nuclear industry have given several reasons for the drop since the company’s announcement in April, including a slump in the nuclear energy market and a company interest to expand its shareholder value.


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PostPosted: Jan 08, 2015 11:23 pm 
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TVA proceeds with SMR plan

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Perez has expressed in the media that TVA is shifting its focus from making Clinch River a design-specific site to being a fundamentally generic SMR facility. Perez was quoted: "We want to develop the site so that whoever comes out of the licensing process with a successful design that is certified, we will have a site available for them."


What I'd hoped for all along!


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 Post subject: mPower SMR resurrected
PostPosted: Mar 05, 2016 1:50 am 
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Back from the dead:

Generation mPower effort blends strengths of both industry leaders

Quote:
Global engineering and construction leader Bechtel and nuclear technology leader BWX Technologies, Inc. have announced a new agreement to pursue accelerated development of the world’s first commercially viable Generation III++ small modular nuclear reactor.

Bechtel will lead the program and leverage the company’s historic strengths in engineering, licensing, procurement, construction, and project management. BWXT will focus on designing and testing the nuclear steam supply system. Both companies will collaborate to prepare a design certification application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Known as Generation mPower, the project is centered on the BWXT mPowerTM reactor—a 195-megawatt-electric power plant that will be a safe, cost-competitive, and innovative solution to provide low-carbon electricity—addressing the growing challenges of climate change and sustainable development.

“This technology holds great promise and we are firmly committed to doing everything we can to bring it to market,” said Ty Troutman, general manager of Bechtel’s nuclear power business unit. “It’s one of the keys to solving the problem of replacing older power plants without relying on fossil fuels or the intermittent availability of solar and wind. Pound for pound, small modular reactors can deliver more 24/7 electricity than any other low-carbon alternative energy technology.”

Generation mPower delivers greater certainty in nuclear power costs and schedule, which is needed to enable broader, more timely development of nuclear power. Its key features include:

Compact size
Factory built, rail shippable reactor
Passive safety systems incorporating post-Fukushima design criteria
Underground containment structure
Standard fuel assemblies made from less-than-five-percent-enriched uranium
Fit for purpose: designed for cost-effective deployment
“Bechtel is unique in that we have, and will continue to take, the long view on nuclear power,” Troutman said. “We are an enduring presence in the industry.”

Privately held, Bechtel has been a leader in nuclear engineering and construction for more than 60 years. The company has designed or serviced 80% of nuclear plants in the U.S. and 150 worldwide. In 2015, Bechtel completed construction on Watts Bar Unit 2 for the Tennessee Valley Authority in the U.S.—the first reactor this century to receive a new authorization to operate.

Generation mPower was founded in 2010 to develop a plant using the BWXT-designed reactor. Engineering and development continued through 2014 with the assistance of a Cooperative Agreement for funding made available through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Small Modular Reactor Licensing Technical Support Program.


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PostPosted: Mar 13, 2017 11:09 am 
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....and killed yet again:

Bechtel And BWXT Quietly Terminate mPower Reactor Project

Quote:
Generation mPower, one of the early leaders in the development of small modular reactors (SMR), has decided to fully terminate its partnership and put the design material that was developed onto a corporate shelf. Though this isn't specifically good nuclear news, it is an indication that nuclear energy development has many hurdles that it shares with all other fields of technology development.


It is going to be very difficult for any nuclear reactor to compete with natural gas for the lowest cost generation of power.

Quote:
As a result of the termination notification, BWXT will pay Bechtel a $30 million settlement as Bechtel’s sole and exclusive remedy, as agreed by both companies in the framework agreement filed in 2016. (This amount has already been recognized in BWXT’s financial statements as of March 31, 2016.)


Ouch, that's a tidy sum. I wish we could have been using that money to develop LFTR.

Don't laugh too hard, the president of BWXT is Rex Geveden, who hired me away from NASA to be chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering in 2010. Rex is a big believer in the LFTR concept, and I wonder if things might happen with BWXT in the future.


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PostPosted: Mar 16, 2017 5:35 pm 
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BWXT, Bechtel shelve mPower program


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PostPosted: Mar 18, 2017 8:09 am 
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Bechtel pulls out of mini-nuclear development

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The company said it would no longer be attempting to create its own SMR reactor after it was unable to find investment for its programme, or a utility company that would provide a site.


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PostPosted: Jun 14, 2017 11:59 am 
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Anti-nuclear group challenges TVA plans for Oak Ridge reactor

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An environmental group critical of nuclear power is challenging plans to potentially locate small modular reactors in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League said today that it is filing a legal challenge to the proposal by the Tennessee Valley Authority to site small modular reactors at the site of the abandoned Clinch River Breeder Reactor in Oak Ridge. Lou Zeller, executive director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, filed a 13-page petition with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commisson challenging TVA's plans. "TVA is trying to justify this project as a solution to global warming and to benefit energy security. What it does is undermine both," Zeller said today. Zeller said no small modular reactor designs have yet been approved by regulators and the experimental source of power "is fraught with reduced safety margins" since small modular reactors do not have to have active backup safety systems for cooling the reactor as do today's conventional reactors. Zeller also claims underground siting of small modular reactors increases risk during flooding. TVA has not yet decided to build any small modular reactors, but it is working with the U.S. Department of Energy to explore the option and has filed an early site permit with the NRC for Oak Ridge to locate the new reactors, if they are ultimately built. "What we have done is similar to if you are going to go out and buy a house and you first go to the bank to pre-qualify for a loan," TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said. "That loan isn't issued yet because you don't have a house picked out or any agreement to buy at this point. But you have an idea what you can afford and what you might buy to get some of that early work out of the way. That is what we are doing with the early site permit." TVA does not need the extra power from the small modular reactors in the near future, but the utility may need the extra power to replace aging coal and conventional nuclear power plants as they are phased out in the future. The proposed plant site is near DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and on a riverfront parcel previously approved for a breeder reactor in the 1970s. The Clinch River Breeder Reactor was ultimately canceled by then President Jimmy Carter who said the technology could lead to more nuclear proliferation in other countries. The NRC is conducting a public scoping process to determine what issues should be considered in the siting of any small modular reactor by TVA. Zeller claims TVA's application should have also included the option of not building any of the new reactors, although that option will still come in subsequent hearings and reviews of any plant license request. The option of not approving a project, the no-action alternative, is required under the National Environmental Policy Act, Zeller said. "The applicant [TVA] has not fulfilled its NEPA obligation to provide a detailed, accurate statement, with particularity to the no-build option," Zeller said in his petition. TVA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff now have until July 7 to reply to the petition, which was filed Monday.


Why do they call groups "environmental" instead of "anti-nuclear"?


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PostPosted: Jul 31, 2017 3:06 pm 
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You guys, part of the reason these people all pulled out is because Nuscale correctly timed the government submission process.
Nuscale is still in the game, and making progress against the NRC regulations. They even have a customer and a site for a test reactor.
http://www.nuscalepower.com/


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PostPosted: Oct 17, 2017 12:26 pm 
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Environmental groups to get hearing on TVA's Clinch River nuclear plans

Anti-nuclear. Not "environmental."


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