SMR test rig reaches full-power

19 July 2012

A facility built to evaluate the design and performance of Babcock and Wilcox's (B&W) mPower small modular reactor has now reached "full reactor operating pressure and temperature conditions."

As the company described it, the Integrated System Test (IST) facility in Virginia is the "world's only operational, design-specific test facility for a small modular reactor design." Essentially a full-scale test model of the mPower reactor, it uses electric heaters to simulate a working nuclear core. It will provide data in support of licensing activities for the design.

Since commissioning in February, the rig has already been put through a start-up test and undergone a power ascension program - yielding valuable information. For the next stage, operators will investigate the thermal hydraulic performance of the reactor's integrated once-through steam generator.

B&W mPower president Christopher Mowry commented: "Technology validation facilities like the IST are critical to our country's ability to bring an innovative nuclear reactor to market and help meet the growing power generation needs of the USA and the world."

The 180 MWe mPower design is an integral pressurized water reactor intended to be factory-made and transported to a site by rail. B&W has submitted the design to the US Department of Energy in hopes that it may win some $450 million worth of development funding.  Other SMR designs put forward by Westinghouse and NuScale are also competing for the money. An initial selection decision for this money is expected to be announced within the next month, where some designs may be eliminated. A final decision is due by December.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News