B&W to build mPower test facility

28 July 2010

Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) is to construct a test facility for the mPower reactor design in Bedford County, Virginia. The facility - not far from B&W's headquarters in Lynchburg - will be used to support licensing activities for the small, modular reactor design. 


mPower (B&W)
A nuclear power plant utilizing mPower reactors (Image: B&W)
The company said that the mPower Integrated System Test (IST) facility will be built at the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research (CAER), currently being constructed at the New London Business and Technology Center.


The IST facility, which is expected to be operational in 2011, will include a scaled prototype of the mPower reactor that will undergo extensive testing. B&W said that while all the technical features of the mPower integral reactor are included in the IST the source of heat for testing is electric rather than nuclear.


B&W said that the three-year initiative will collect data to verify the reactor design and safety performance, supporting its licensing activities with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Once testing concludes, the company anticipates using the facility for on-going training of utility workers who would be operating mPower reactors.


The CAER was selected for the IST facility after an extensive evaluation of various sites, B&W said in a statement. It added, "One of the key factors in the decision was a $2.4 million grant provided by the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (TICRC)."


Chris Mowry, president of B&W Nuclear Energy, commented: "B&W is pleased to have the support of the Virginia Tobacco Commission in locating our IST facility in Bedford County. This facility will play an important role as we move forward with testing and licensing of B&W mPower reactors, while also reaffirming the region as a hub for nuclear technology."


The CAER, with a focus on nuclear energy and distance education, aims to promote economic development in the region. Commenting on B&W's decision to construct the test facility there, Bob Bailey, executive director of CAER, said: "This is exactly the type of opportunity we had in mind when we created CAER. Our research facility is designed to support innovation in our region's industries and strengthen the role of science and technology in our economy." He added, "B&W's decision to locate their IST facility here fits this objective like a glove."


Earlier this month, B&W and Bechtel entered into a formal alliance to design, license and deploy B&W's mPower design, a 125 MWe modular reactor. Under the alliance - to be known as Generation mPower - B&W will focus on designing and testing the nuclear steam supply system (NSSS) and nuclear island, including the design certification application development and submission, and NSSS production. Bechtel will complement these responsibilities with integrated engineering and project management leadership.


Researched and written 

by World Nuclear News