TVA progresses with mPower project

17 June 2011

Generation mPower (GmP) - a partnership between Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) and Bechtel - has signed a letter of intent with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) which defines the project plans for constructing up to six small modular reactors (SMRs) at a site in Tennessee.


mPower cutaway
A cutaway of the mPower design (Image: B&W)
In June 2009, B&W announced plans to develop and deploy a scalable, modular nuclear power reactor. The 125 MWe mPower design is an integral PWR designed to be factory-made and railed to site. B&W and Bechtel later entered into a formal alliance to design, license and deploy the design.


At that time of its launch, B&W said that it had already received a letter of intent from TVA to begin the process of evaluating a potential lead site for the mPower reactor.


In its latest Integrated Resource Plan and associated Environmental Impact Statement, published in March 2011, TVA said that it had identified its Clinch River Breeder Reactor site at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, as a potential site for an mPower plant. Studies of the site’s suitability, including environmental issues, were due to begin in late 2010.


The Clinch River Breeder Reactor project was a joint effort of the US government and the country’s electric power industry to design and construct a sodium-cooled fast-neutron nuclear reactor. The project, first authorized in 1970, was terminated in 1983.


The letter of intent signed by GmP and TVA defines the project plans and associated conditions for designing, licensing and constructing up to six mPower units at the Clinch River site. The project is expected to include joint development and pursuit of a construction licence from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The project would also include engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) activities leading to receipt of an operating licence from the NRC, assuming certain preconditions are met.


The letter of intent also specifies the division of responsibilities between GmP and TVA for the preparation and NRC review of a construction licence application. The letter also describes the timing of the projects activities for successful completion of major EPC milestones.


Ali Azad, GmP president and CEO, said, "We have been working with TVA for some time to evaluate the technical and regulatory requirements associated with constructing B&W mPower SMRs at its Clinch River site."


In a statement, B&W said, "GmP remains on track to deploy the first B&W mPower reactor by 2020 at TVA's Clinch River site."


The mPower Integrated System Test (IST) facility in Virginia is expected to soon begin a three-year project to collect data to verify the reactor design and safety performance in support of B&W’s licensing activities with the NRC. TVA plans to submit a construction permit application to the NRC in 2012, while GmP plans to submit a design certification application in 2013.


B&W claims that the "scalable nature of nuclear power plants built around the B&W mPower reactor would provide customers with practical power increments of 125 MWe to meet local energy needs within power grid and plant site constraints."


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News