A consortium of 13 South Korean companies has pledged to contribute 100 billion won (about $83 million) to complete design work on the 330 MWt Smart reactor. Other novel small reactor designs have also hit the news this week.
A consortium of 13 South Korean companies led by Korea Electric Power Co (Kepco) has agreed to invest 100 billion won (about $83 million) in the development of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (Kaeri) Smart reactor (or to give it its full name, the System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor), Korea's Ministry for Education, Science and Technology has announced. Kepco group companies will take up a total of 51% equity participation in the consortium, with companies from the Posco group taking up 28% and other companies including Daewoo companies, STX Heavy Industries and Iljin Energy taking smaller shares.
Smart is a 330 MWt pressurised water reactor with integral steam generators and advanced safety features. The unit is designed for electricity generation (up to 100 MWe) as well as thermal applications such as seawater desalination, with a 60-year design life and three-year refuelling cycle. While the basic design is complete, development had been stalled by the absence of any orders for an initial reference unit. Earlier this year, Kaeri and Posco signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to carry out joint research and development on technologies for Smart and Very High Temperature Reactors (VHTRs).
A standard design for the reactor is now expected to be completed by the end of the year. Kaeri has previously announced its intention to proceed to licensing the design by 2012.
New investors for TerraPower
Meanwhile, TerraPower of the USA, would-be developer of the Travelling Wave Reactor, has announced it has raised over $35 million of funding from venture capitalists in a second financing round. The Washington-based company is working on the concept which would use depleted uranium packed inside hundreds of hexagonal pillars. The uranium is bred into plutonium, which undergoes fission, in a 'wave' that moves through the core at only one centimetre per year, in what has been likened to a 'candle reactor' as the wave 'burns' from one end of the reactor to the other. The reaction requires a small amount of enriched uranium to get started and could run for decades without refuelling. Earlier this year Terrapower, which proudly boasts Microsoft founder Bill Gates as a major investor, made overtures to Toshiba concerning development of its reactor.
This week also saw the official launch by Advanced Reactor Concepts (ARC) of its ARC-100 modular 100 MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor model. ARC wants to commercialise the technology, which is based on the 62.5 MWt Experimental Breeder Reactor II (EBR-II). The EBR-II prototype reactor operated at the Idaho National Laboratory from 1963 to 1994, producing some 19 MWe for about 30 years. The ACR-100 would use a novel metal alloy fuel, with the uranium-fuelled reactor core submerged in a tank of liquid sodium at ambient pressure. It would have a refuelling interval of 20 years.
AEHI signs up with Hyperion
Hutton joins Hyperion
Hyperion Power Generation has appointed former UK energy minister John Hutton as an adviser. Hutton's appointment has been approved by the UK's Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which vets the jobs taken on by former cabinet ministers - on condition that he does not lobby his former department on behalf of Hyperion for a year.
Hutton told UK regional newspaper the North-West Evening Mail that he had no dealings with Hyperion when he was energy secretary.
Alternate Energy Holdings Inc (AEHI) has signed a MoU with Hyperion Power Generation Inc of New Mexico which the companies have described as "the beginning of a joint venture" to build and market Hyperion's modular reactors around the world.
AEHI chairman and CEO Don Gillispie is upbeat about the prospects for the small, sealed 25 MWe Hyperion Power Module, which with dimensions of 1.5 by 2 metres the company describes as "refrigerator-sized". The module is designed to operate continuously for 7-10 years without refuelling, after which time the entire unit would be replaced. A Hyperion statement quotes Gillispie as saying it has an "unbelievably affordable price tag" and "practically sells itself".
Hyperion CEO John R 'Grizz' Deal said AEHI's "unprecedented connections in the international community, especially in China," had been influential in his company's choice of partner. If there is one company that has the ability to successfully place the Hyperion product in the international spotlight, it is AEHI," he said. Deal told a London conference in November 2009 he expects 2-3000 unit orders in coming years at a unit price of $50-75 million each.
AEHI bills itself as the USA's "only independent nuclear power developer seeking to build new power plants in multiple non-nuclear states" and signed an agreement to form a new company to jointly develop reactors worldwide with PowerEd Corp, whose other products have included a space truck. It has discussed proposals to build an Areva EPR nuclear unit in several potential sites in Idaho, while an understanding with Unistar towards this has ended.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News