Westinghouse SMR progress slows

21 February 2014

Development of the 225 MWe Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor (SMR) is being scaled back following the decision by the US Department of Energy (DoE) to award funding to competing reactor designs.

Westinghouse SMR cutaway 200
A cut-away of Westinghouse's SMR

In December 2013, the DoE announced that it would fund up to half the cost of developing, licensing and commercialising NuScale Power's 45 MWe reactor - the NuScale Power Module. This was the only small reactor design out of several applications - including the Westinghouse SMR - that was awarded DoE funding at the time. In an earlier round of applications for funding, the DoE selected Babcock and Wilcox's 180 MWe mPower design.

In a letter to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Westinghouse said that, as a result of the DoE's decision, it was "re-assessing its design certification application schedule." However, the company added: "The Westinghouse SMR program continues to be a crucial part of our current and future business strategy and goals for next-generation nuclear technology."

In mid-2012, Westinghouse and a consortium of current and prospective nuclear plant owners and operators led by Ameren Missouri formed the NexStart SMR Alliance to licence and deploy the Westinghouse SMR by 2022. A combined construction and operating licence (COL) application for several units at Ameren Missouri's Callaway site is planned, but the decision to reschedule the design certification application will delay the start up of the first units by several years.

The Westinghouse SMR is an 800 MWt/225 MWe class integral PWR with a 24-month refuelling cycle and 60-year service life. It features passive safety systems and reactor internals including fuel assemblies based closely on those in the AP1000. According to the NexStart SMR Alliance, "This approach will provide design and operation certainty that no other SMR supplier can match."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News