Areva and Mitsubishi to collaborate

11 January 2007

Industrial giants from France and Japan have agreed to design a medium-sized power reactor together as the first part of a wider cooperation.

Areva is France's national nuclear engineering company and the biggest of its kind in the world, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is a world leader in large components for nuclear plants, particularly steam generators as used in pressurised water reactors (PWRs). MHI also provided large forgings for the pressure vessel of the PWR under construction by Areva and Siemens at Olkiluoto in Finland.

The companies' memorandum of understanding, signed on 19 October in Tokyo, said they would collaborate on the design of a new light-water reactor (a PWR,  or a boiling water reactor, BWR) but did not specify which type. Although more experienced with PWRs, Areva has experience in both, while MHI has only built PWRs in the past.

The new design should produce about 1000 MWe - significantly less than the 1600-1700 MWe designs currently on offer from the companies - and would be marketed at emerging countries wishing to begin nuclear power programs, as well as markets such as the USA. The design process would take three to four years.

Beyond that project, the companies hope to cooperate on equipment procurement, services, used nuclear fuel management, and development of fast-breeder and high-temperature reactors.

This development is the latest in a series of alliances between Japanese and Western companies. Toshiba has recently purchased the majority of Westinghouse, while General Electric and Hitachi have agreed a cross-shareholding arrangement.

Further information

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries