Share This

B&W Seeking Additional Partners for mPower SMR Development

Nov. 13, 2013—The Babcock & Wilcox Co. is seeking additional equity partners as it accelerates its licensing and pre-construction activities to deploy a first prototype of its small reactor design.

B&W, along with partners Bechtel International and the Tennessee Valley Authority, last year won a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s public-private partnership program to develop its 180-megawatt mPower pressurized water reactor design for commercial deployment by 2022 (see Nuclear Energy Overview, Nov. 21, 2012).

Under DOE’s $452 million small modular reactor licensing technical support program, the department is providing matching funds over six years to support design certifications, site characterization, licensing, first-of-a-kind engineering activities and associated NRC review processes for the commercial deployment of up to four modules of the mPower reactor at TVA’s Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tenn.

DOE’s small modular reactor program website notes that B&W’s mPower team expects to submit a design certification application to the NRC by the middle of next year “for approval by 2018” and a commercial operation date of October 2021.

B&W President and CEO E. James Ferland said in a statement that the company is seeking additional equity partners “to ensure the Generation mPower venture has adequate resources over the next several years to fully capture these opportunities.” The statement noted that B&W so far has invested more than $360 million in the mPower program.

Nuclear Energy Institute President and CEO Marvin Fertel said, “This action by Babcock & Wilcox demonstrates the maturation of its small reactor project. It is a timely step to keep the project on track with the resources and assets it will need for wide commercialization. As the United States advances this exciting new technology, thousands of jobs will be created.”

Fertel added, “Small, scalable reactors hold great potential for our nation. This innovative technology is supported by nearly 4,000 combined reactor-years of operating experience in the United States.

“Small reactor concepts offer the promise of reducing greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions from the electric, transport and industrial sectors. They can generate electricity for remote locations and provide secure electricity to our military bases. They can be added as needed to match growth in electricity demand. And by powering desalinization, they can produce vast quantities of drinking fresh drinking water. The ability to build small reactors in controlled manufacturing facilities, greatly improving quality control and reducing production time, is another advantage that adds to the technology’s potential for rapid commercialization.”

Separately, DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Pete Lyons told reporters this week that the department could award a second round of funding for the small reactor program “before the end of the year.” The second tranche of $226 million, announced earlier this year, would be available for applicants proposing “innovative” small reactor designs with advanced capabilities to withstand severe accidents—General Atomics, Holtec International, NuScale Power and Westinghouse have applied for the second funding opportunity (see Nuclear Energy Overview, March 21).