Westinghouse announces Small Modular Reactor

18 February 2011

Westinghouse has officially "introduced" its 200 MWe Small Modular Reactor (SMR), and says it is preparing for a role in the US Department of Energy's demonstration program.  


Westinghouse SMR

From the top: integral
pressurizer, steam generator
with central vertical hot leg,
coolant pumps alongside
core internals, reactor core
The 200 MWe design is an integrated pressurized water reactor (PWR) in which all primary components are located inside the reactor pressure vessel. It is designed to be completely fabricated in the factory and is scaled to be shippable by rail. The Westinghouse SMR's passive safety systems and components draw on those developed in the design of the AP1000, the company's full-scale PWR currently under construction at Haiyang and Sanmen in China and earmarked for new build projects at Vogtle and VC Summer in the USA.

Both the core and reactor vessel internals of the SMR are derived from the AP1000. The core, at the foot of the module, is composed of partial-height derivatives of the 17x17 fuel assembly used in the AP1000. The reactor vessel internals are modified for the smaller core and to provide support for the internal control drive rod mechanisms. Horizontally-mounted axial-flow canned motor pumps provide the driving head for the reactor coolant system, and a compact steam generator and pressurizer integrated into the reactor vessel head completes the design.

Westinghouse chief technology officer Kate Jackson said the unit would be another option for providing a safe, affordable and secure source of clean-air energy to the world's rapidly changing and diverse markets: "The Westinghouse SMR enables us to bring together all that we know about operating nuclear plants, designing and licensing plants, and passive safety into a small design that will provide additional power options for our customers."

Generically, small modular reactors are seen as offering a number of advantages over typical nuclear plants in various circumstances, such as where grid systems cannot cope with the load from a 1000+ MWe nuclear power plant, or in remote locations. Small reactors are expected to offer greater simplicity of design, economy of mass production, and reduced siting costs as well as incorporating a high level of passive or inherent safety in the event of malfunction. A number of small reactor designs from 25 MWe up to around 300 MWe are in various stages of development around the world.

In a press release which described the Westinghouse SMR as "another milestone in energy history", Westinghouse also said it was actively working to prepare for the upcoming US Department of Energy small reactors program, and intended to be the "leading industry collaborator" in the initiative. In May 2010, US energy secretary Steven Chu announced $20 million of funding for research and development in Generation IV reactors including small reactors, and the US budget request submitted earlier this week by President Barack Obama included a $97 million request to support research into small modular reactors.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News