BWXT to Build First Advanced Microreactor in U.S.

  • BWXT to Build First Advanced Microreactor in United States
  • Poland / Capital Expenditure On First BWRX-300 SMR Project At €1.1 Billion
  • Bechtel, Toshiba to Pursue Polish Nuclear Energy Projects
  • Energoatom and Westinghouse to Expand Supplies of VVER Fuel
  • US and Canadian Regulators Complete Joint Technical Review of IMSR
  • KBR and Terrestrial Energy Agree to Collaborate on Hydrogen and Ammonia Production
  • Foratom Rebrands Itself as Nucleareurope

BWXT to Build First Advanced Microreactor in the U.S.

  • U.S. Department of Defense Strategic Capabilities Office Selects BWXT to Manufacture and Deliver Project Pele Prototype Reactor to Idaho National Laboratory in 2024

BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: BWXT) will build the first advanced nuclear microreactor in the United States under a contract awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO). The Project Pele full-scale transportable microreactor prototype will be completed and delivered in 2024 for testing at the Idaho National Laboratory.

gao-dod-mini-reactor

SCO has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop, prototype and demonstrate a transportable microreactor that can provide a resilient power source to the DoD for a variety of operational needs that have historically relied on fossil fuel deliveries and extensive supply lines.

Transportable microreactors deliver clean, zero-carbon energy where and when it is needed in a variety of austere conditions for  the DoD. These plants can also deploy potential commercial applications for disaster response and recovery, power generation at remote locations, and deep decarbonization initiatives.

The prototype will be built under a cost-type contract valued at approximately $300 million, depending on options selected, by BWXT Advanced Technologies LLC in facilities in Lynchburg, Virginia and Euclid, Ohio. Over the next two years, BWXT expects that approximately 120 employees will work on the project, including roughly 40 skilled trades, engineers and other positions that will be hired to support this effort and other projects.

“We are on a mission to design, build and test new nuclear technology to protect the environment while providing power, and we are thrilled with this competitively bid award after years of hard work by our design and engineering team,” said Joe Miller, BWXT Advanced Technologies LLC president. “The entire nuclear industry recognizes that advanced reactors are an important step forward to support growing power needs and significant carbon reduction imperatives.”

Safe Design for HTGR

The high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) will operate at a power level between 1 and 5 MWe and will be transportable in commercially available shipping containers. It will be powered by TRISO fuel, a specific design of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel that can withstand extreme heat and has very low environmental risks.

The transportable reactor core and associated control system is designed to maintain safety under all conditions, including transitional conditions throughout transport. The fuel has been tested and verified to temperatures far exceeding the operating conditions of the reactor.

The transportable design consists of multiple modules that contain the microreactor’s components in 20-foot long, ISO-compliant CONEX shipping containers. The reactor is designed to be safely and rapidly moved by road, rail, sea or air. The entire reactor system is designed to be assembled on-site and operational within 72 hours. Shut down, cool down, disconnection and removal for transport is designed to occur in less than seven days.

Team Members

A diverse team of experienced companies are joining BWXT to support delivery and successful operation of the Project Pele prototype. BWXT is the prime contract and integration lead, and is responsible for reactor module manufacture. Among the other companies playing key roles on the team are:

· Northrop Grumman
· Aerojet Rocketdyne
· Rolls-Royce LibertyWorks
· Torch Technologies, Inc.

Testing and Licensing

The reactor and fuel will be safely shipped separately, with fueling to occur at the test site. Once fueled, the system will undergo up to three years of testing at Idaho National Laboratory to confirm performance and operability. The test program will demonstrate that the reactor can produce reliable off-grid electric power. Power generated by the reactor will be transferred to load banks that accurately mimic the operational load that a power source would see in actual application.  In addition, the system will be disassembled and re-assembled to prove transportability.

Consistent with the non-commercial nature of the project, testing and operation of this prototype reactor will proceed under authorization by the Department of Energy. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, consistent with its role as an independent safety and security regulator, is participating in this project to provide SCO with accurate, current information on applicable regulations and licensing processes.

& & &

Poland / Capital Expenditure On First BWRX-300 SMR Project

(NucNet) The estimated capital expenditure for the first BWRX-300 small modular reactor unit deployed in Poland at the end of the decade will be €1.1 billion ($1.17 billion) with 50 percent of this spent domestically, a conference in Warsaw heard.

About 33 percent of the total will be spent by plant developer GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) outside Poland and 17 percent will be spent on design, analysis, licensing, logistics and training.

Prof. Waclaw Gudowski, advisor to the Polish company Synthos Green Energy, told the inaugural conference of the Desire project said the BWRX-300 technology offers lower investment costs, a levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of about €50/MWh and a shorter investment process than large-scale nuclear power plants.

Construction Cost and Operating Estimates

An LCOE of €50/MWh would put the BWRX-300 at the low end of the cost range for new reactors. According to a joint Nuclear Energy Agency and International Energy Agency report, the LCOE of large-scale nuclear in 2025 will range from about $55-$95/MWh (€43/MWh-(€75/MWh.

This compares to a maximum of almost $100/MWh for coal and about $80/MWh for gas. The cheapest non-dispatchable source of electricity is onshore wind of more than 1 MWe, with an LCOE of $40-$50/MWh. Offshore wind is about $80-$110/MWh and utility scale solar PV $40-$80/MWh.

US SMR developer NuScale said its first customer for its SMR has set an LCOE target of $55/MWh (€43/MWh).

LCOE captures both capital and operating costs that need to be covered. It is essentially the long-term price at which the electricity produced by a power plant will have to be sold at for the investor to cover all their costs.

Prof. Gudowski said the first BWRX-300 project in Poland will be built on a “nth of a kind” (NOAK) basis and SMRs will act as “a great stabilizer” for a planned hybrid electricity grid that also accommodates heat and renewables. Like many new technologies the cost for a first-of-a-kind (FOAK) plant is higher than for subsequent NOAK projects.

Synthos Green SMR Effort

The reference project for Synthos Green Energy’s deployment of SMRs will be GEH’s deployment of its BWRX-300 SMR units in Canada, scheduled for 2028. Ontario Power Generation has selected the BWRX-300 SMR to be built at one of its Darlington, Ontario reactor site.

Prof. Gudowski said Synthos Green Energy is working closely with Canadian investor Ontario Power Generation (OPG). The Canadian utility and and GEH will collaborate on SMR engineering, design, planning, preparing the licencing and permitting materials, and site preparation for the BWRX-300.

Last year, ZE PAK, the largest private energy group in Poland, and Synthos Green Energy announced they would work together to explore building BWRX-300 SMRs at the site of the Patnow coal plant in central Poland.

Synthos Green Energy is a subsidiary of Synthos, a manufacturer of synthetic rubber and one of the biggest producers of chemical raw materials in Poland. It has signed a number of agreements on SMR and microreactor development with companies including GEH, Tractabel and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, a US-based company developing a 15-MW micro modular reactor.

Poland’s “Desire Project” for Nuclear Energy

(NucNet) The Project Desire initiative, was launched by a consortium consisting of five Polish entities: consortium leader the Silesian University of Technology, the climate and environment ministry, Energoprojekt-Katowice SA, the Institute of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology and the Sobieski Institute. The consortium officially became operational on 1 April 2022.

The project’s aim is to plan for decarbonizing Poland’s power sector using nuclear technologies with the intention of producing a roadmap that will detail potential investment in 27 locations.

The Polish government said in a statement related to Project Desire that its nuclear power program will be developed based on analysis of potential investment in the 27 sites, which are already listed as part of the country’s nuclear power program. It said the aim is to build a second large-scale Generation III or Generation III+ nuclear station to replace coal-fired plants that are being shut down.

& & &

Bechtel, Toshiba to Pursue Polish Nuclear Energy Projects

Bechtel, an engineering, construction, and project management partner to the global nuclear industry for nearly 70 years, has announced a Memorandum of Understanding with Toshiba America Energy Systems and Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions to pursue a new civil nuclear power plant project in Poland.

Toshiba is the latest company to join the group of U.S. and Polish companies organizing a team led by Bechtel and Westinghouse Electric Company. The plant would be Poland’s first nuclear power station as the country transitions away from coal-fired energy while maintaining its energy independence.

“Any new nuclear plant requires expertise from proven companies with the required certifications,” said Ahmet Tokpinar, general manager of Bechtel’s Nuclear Power business line. “Toshiba has supplied steam turbines, generators, and services to power plants of all types for nearly 100 years. This is a team with proven manufacturing capabilities and a record of excellent service.”

Bechtel and Westinghouse are jointly preparing a front-end engineering design for the Polish government’s consideration for a three-unit plant on the Baltic Sea coast. The plant would use proven Westinghouse AP1000 reactors. The companies are also engaging with the Czech Republic on the possible expansion of that country’s civil nuclear power program.

The Polish government said its plans to build large-scale nuclear reactors are in line with the plans of major Polish industrial companies to work towards the deployment of SMRs.

Warsaw is planning to choose a technology for a total of six large-scale plants at two large-scale nuclear stations this year. It also aims to obtain an environmental and siting decision for the first station and to sign an agreement with the technology vendor and the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor.

Current Offers to Build Nuclear Reactors in Poland

(NucNet) Poland has received two preliminary offers for the construction of its first commercial nuclear power station with one more to follow by the end of the summer as Warsaw prepares to make a final decision on a technology supplier in the autumn.

Piotr Naimski, secretary of state of the Polish government for strategic energy infrastructure, said in an interview with Polish legal and business daily newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that the offers had come from France and South Korea with another due from the US which is expected to be from Westinghouse for its AP1000 1150 MWe PWR. Mr Naimski said the US offer is being developed on the basis of a US-Poland intergovernmental agreement signed in October 2020.

The French offer was from state-owned EDF with its EPR technology. The South Korean offer was from state-owned Korea Hydro Nuclear Power (KHNP) with its APR-1400 plant.

“The power station will operate for 60 to 80 years,” Mr Naimski said. “This means that we must take into account not only business criteria, but also strategic, geopolitical criteria.”

The Polish government is negotiating with potential partners about financing the project.

“We are talking about large amounts of money, but to be managed by the Polish state. This financing – tens of billions of dollars in total – will be spread over time, as we plan to commission the first reactor in 2033,” Mr Naimski said.

Poland wants to build from 6,000 to 9,000 MW of installed nuclear capacity based on proven, large-scale, pressurised water reactor technology. Commercial operation of a first unit in a proposed set of six is planned for 2033.

In December 2021, Polskie Elektrownie Jedrowe (PEJ), the state-owned company in charge of Poland’s nuclear new-build plans, said Lubiatowo-Kopalino in the northern province of Pomerania near the Baltic coast was the preferred location for the country’s first nuclear project.

Profile of Poland’s Program to Build Nuclear Reactors

(World Nuclear Association) In April 2021 a new state-owned company, Polish Nuclear Power Plants (Polskie Elektrownie Jedrowe, PEJ), was set up to lead the investment eefort for new nuclear reactors. It will seek investment and government funding with  51% of the construction company and project owned by the government.  It expects to raise $21 billion of which 49% being sought from investors outside the government. At least 6 GWe and possibly 9 GWe is planned, with the first unit online in 2033 and a further unit every two years. The first units are to be built in Lubiatowo and Zarnowiec in Pomerania, northern Poland.

In March 2021, the government ratified an intergovernmental nuclear cooperation agreement that gives the USA 18 months to prepare a technology and financing offer for nuclear power plants.

In June 2021 the US Trade & Development Agency provided a grant to Polish Nuclear Power Plants (PEJ) to assist front-end engineering and design studies by Westinghouse and Bechtel with a view to building an AP1000 reactor as the country’s first nuclear power plant. Further US government funding is anticipated but is not yet committed at this time. The studies will be reviewed in mid-2022 by the Polish government to help it select a partner for PEJ.

In October 2021 EDF offered to build up to six 1650 MWe EPR units and thus decarbonize 40% of the country’s electricity. In April 2022 Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) submitted an equivalent offer to build six of its 1400 MWe APR1400 units, stating the first reactor could be in operation by 2033. KHNP has said it is willing to finance 20-30% of the project.

& & &

Energoatom and Westinghouse to Expand Supplies of VVER Fuel

Westinghouse Electric Company and Energoatom, the state-owned nuclear utility of Ukraine, have signed expanded agreements for Westinghouse to supply all nuclear fuel for the Energoatom operating fleet in Ukraine (table below) and increase the planned number of AP1000 plants Energoatom intends to build from five to nine units.

wna ukraineIt is unlikely that any progress to build the new AP1000s, or complete an partially built VVER, will occur until hostilities with invading Russian forces comes to an end. None of the planned Westinghouse reactors have received any funding from either the U.S. nor Ukraine governments.

The two companies also affirmed their intention to establish a Westinghouse Engineering Center in Ukraine to support the planned AP1000 reactor projects, as well as Energoatom’s operating fleet and future decommissioning program.

Petro Kotin, President of SE NNEGC Energoatom, and Patrick Fragman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Westinghouse, signed the agreements at the Khmelnytskyi NPP (KhNPP) site where the first two AP1000 reactors will are anticipated to be built. Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko and Swedish Ambassador to Ukraine Tobias Thyberg witnessed the signing of this historic agreement and participated in the site tour.

Nuclear Fuel Deal

Energoatom selected Westinghouse to fully supply nuclear fuel for its installed fleet of Russian built VVER PWRs. The fuel will be supplied out of Westinghouse’s fabrication site in Västerås, Sweden,with continued localization of fuel assembly component production in Ukraine. Atomenergomash, a subdivision of Ukraine’s Energoatom, is currently completing qualification to manufacture top and bottom nozzles for Westinghouse fuel.

Russian Forces Occupy Ukraine’s Largest Nuclear Plant

Russian military forces currently occupy the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which is composed of six 950 MWe VVER. It is one of the largest nuclear power stations in Europe. Currently, it is reported that only one or two of the reactors are generating electrical power for the grid.

zaporozhye_aes_280222

The IAEA has been trying to go to the plant to verify the safety of the facility. The Ukraine government has opposed this mission on the grounds it would legitimize the Russian presence there.

This week the Russian military reportedly abducted 11 employees of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).  The Russians took 20 people from the nearby residential area which included the 11 nuclear workers. According to Ukrainian government sources, there are an estimated 500 Russian military troops stationed in the area. Rosatom, the Russian state owned nuclear firm, is reported to have sent technical personnel to the plant.

& & &

US and Canadian Regulators Complete Joint Technical Review of IMSR

Terrestrial Energy announced that the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have completed a first joint technical review of Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR), a Generation IV reactor system.

The agencies conducted the IMSR technical review as part a cross-border regulatory program established in August 2019 by a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) between the CNSC and the NRC.

This review expands on a 2017 cooperative agreement between the agencies to review activities associated with advanced reactor and SMR technologies. It also strengthens the agencies’ commitment to share best practices and experiences through joint reviews of advanced reactor and SMR technology designs. The MOC’s collaborative technical reviews aim to increase regulatory effectiveness as well as reaffirm the agencies’ commitment to safety and security.

pathways to uses of IMSR

As part of the MOC, the agencies undertook a joint review of Terrestrial Energy’s Postulated Initiating Events (PIE) analysis and methodology for the IMSR. This work is foundational for further regulatory safety reviews and supports Terrestrial Energy’s regulatory program to prepare license applications required to operate IMSR plants in Canada and the United States.

“The completion of the joint review is an important step in supporting Terrestrial Energy’s technology and regulatory programs. It is also clear evidence that international regulatory harmonization is possible. Reviews by independent national regulators provide confidence and credibility to the technologies involved as well as build momentum for global rollout,” said Michael Binder, former President of the CNSC.

“The joint review of the Terrestrial Energy IMSR represents a milestone in efforts of the CNSC and NRC to reduce regulatory duplication and is an important step in harmonizing the regulatory reviews of the two regulators. This is a very positive step for the advanced reactor community and efforts to deploy a new generation of nuclear facilities in North America,” said Jeff Merrifield, former NRC Commissioner.

“Careful and purposeful pre-licensing engagement is essential preparation that precedes the submission of license applications. This review by the Canadian and U.S. regulators is a joint examination of the fundamentals of IMSR safety and is a cornerstone technical nuclear safety review that builds further confidence in IMSR technology and supports our national regulatory programs. Completing this joint review is an important step forward in the commercialization of the IMSR and paves the way for further cross-border collaboration,” said Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy.

& & &

KBR and Terrestrial Energy Agree to Collaborate on Hydrogen and Ammonia Production

kbrTerrestrial Energy announced today that it has signed an agreement with KBR to investigate the application of zero-emission thermal energy for hydrogen and ammonia production.

Headquartered in the U.S. with its center for international operations in the U.K., KBR is a global leader in the supply of ammonia production technology to operators of chemical facilities worldwide. The company is at the forefront of innovation in the ammonia market, with proven implementation solutions, tools and methodologies that help customers achieve predictable results.

Through the collaboration, KBR’s market-leading energy advisory services team and Terrestrial Energy will analyze the integration of Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) nuclear cogeneration technology for use in green ammonia and hydrogen production. KBR’s program management and integrator solutions teams will further support the development of commercial frameworks for future deployment and routes to market for ammonia production technology with IMSR cogeneration.

Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR plant is a cogeneration facility that supplies zero-emissions thermal energy at high-temperature for direct use in industrial process and for high efficiency on-site electric power generation. The plant uses the company’s IMSR technology, a Generation IV fission technology, which drives the plant’s 585o C thermal energy supply, a heat quality essential for broad industrial use, including green hydrogen and ammonia production.

& & &

Foratom Rebrands Itself as Nucleareurope

muceurAs of this week, FORATOM officially becomes nucleareurope.  The goal of this rebranding is to bring more clarity to stakeholders in Brussels about who we represent. This official announcement comes under the umbrella of our annual conference – #nucleareurope2022 – currently being held in Helsinki, Finland.

Established in 1960, the ‘Forum Atomique Européen’ – as it was known then – has seen many changes over the last 62 years. For example, the number of issues tackled by the sector has shifted from the ‘pure’ nuclear topics, such as the Euratom Treaty, radioactive waste management and innovation, to a broader range of issues which include tackling climate change, environmental matters, sustainability and security of supply. Hence the importance of having a strong nuclear representation in Brussels.

“I personally believe that the future of nuclear in Europe is bright once again. This has given us a new impetus – and we are extremely proud to represent the nuclear industry” states Yves Desbazeille, nucleareurope Director General. “Hence our decision to rebrand our organisation and make clear exactly who we represent at EU level.”

As highlighted by Yves Desbazeille during the #nucleareurope2022 conference “It is clear that the current situation in Ukraine is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve had clear signals over the last 18 months in Europe that the energy crisis – reflected by increasing prices – was looming. We will continue to navigate through this crisis as best we can. However, we must also actively take lessons from it. Europe must become less dependent on external sources of energy”.

Given this, nucleareurope will now focus on highlighting the solutions which the sector can bring. These including:

  • Providing a stable, affordable and low-carbon source of electricity
  • Contributing to the production of low-carbon hydrogen in Europe
  • Focusing on innovation, in particular the development of Small Modular Reactors

In his concluding remarks, Mr Desbazeille called on industry, policymakers, stakeholders to “work together for our future. Let’s sit around a table and come up with practical solutions to fighting climate change and to improve Europe’s energy independence.”

Nucleareurope is the Brussels-based trade association for the nuclear energy industry in Europe. The membership of nucleareurope is made up of 15 national nuclear associations and through these associations, nucleareurope represents nearly 3,000 European companies working in the industry and supporting around 1,100,000 jobs.

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