Major component manufacture is eVinci milestone

27 February 2023

The 12-foot (3.7 metre) long heat pipe manufactured by Westinghouse Electric Company in a project supported by the US Department of Energy's Advanced Reactor Demonstration Project (ARDP) is one of the largest of its kind made and will be used to support a test reactor the company aims to operate in 2026.

Westinghouse team members pictured with the heat pipe (Image: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse's eVinci was selected in late 2020 to receive USD9.3 million of cost-shared funding (USD7.4 million as the US Department of Energy's share) under the ARDP to advance the design of the heat pipe-cooled microreactor.

Heat pipes - long, thin tubes which passively transfer thermal energy from one end of the tube to the other - will be used in the planned Nuclear Test Reactor (NTR) to transfer heat away from the nuclear fuel.

ARDP funding was used to help design and prototype the 12-foot heat pipe, which according to the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy, is one of the largest of its kind ever built and marks a key step forward in developing the eVinci reactor. The pipe was made at Westinghouse's Waltz Mill facility in Pennsylvania. The company had previously manufactured and tested pipes at a 4-foot scale.

The NTR will require hundreds of the 12-foot pipes, which are made of a specialised iron, chromium, and aluminium alloy engineered for superior heat resistance and performance.

A rendering of an eVinci power plant (Image: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse's eVinci is a transportable reactor that is fully factory built, fuelled and assembled, and capable of delivering combined heat and power - 5 MWe and up to 13MWt. Its small size allows for standard transportation methods and rapid, on-site deployment, with superior reliability and minimal maintenance, making it particularly suitable for energy consumers in remote locations. The company has previously described the design as "game-changing".

Earlier this month, Westinghouse filed a Notice of Intent to submit key licensing reports for eVinci to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for joint review including a common set of key requirements for the classification of systems, structures and components for the microreactor. This approach will enable deployment of a standard design in both the USA and Canada, the company said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News