As New Age of Growth for Nuclear Technology Opens:
Asia starts to study the benefits of Scaling Down

Last year Forbes Magazine's "Companies to Watch" column cited a U.S., Oregon-based company, NuScale Power, Inc., as a company to watch.  NuScale’s new technology aims to make "a scaled-down light water nuclear reactor designed to be more affordable, safer and scalable for small, limited or growing energy markets".  Why is this technology so important today?  In the U.S., more than 104 nuclear power plants successfully generate about 20% of the electricity for the country.  However, to maintain that percentage over the next 30 years, it is predicted that the industry will need to build another 50 reactors.  One current issue is that conventional nuclear reactor sizes are large and finding the financing to build them is quite difficult. NuScale's new technology offers a natural circulation light water reactor that fits into a 60 x 15-foot cylinder.  The whole nuclear reactor system can be prefabricated and shipped to a power plant site by rail, truck or barge. Its modular design means small energy providers can install a single NuScale reactor; then scale up by adding more modules as demand increases.

Not only in the U.S. will this technology be useful.  It has potential to help countries in Asia and elsewhere: from smaller countries like perhaps Cambodia, to larger countries like Vietnam or Thailand who are overly-dependent on natural gas or coal both of which produce CO2, a greenhouse gas.  It is also needed within these countries where communities like industrial parks or industrial zones need cheaper, dependable power or for islands like Phuket or Koh Samui in Thailand; to the small countries that currently rely on mid-range utilities and either don't have oil, hydro or other resources. 

comparing gas, biofuel, nuclear power

In addition to reducing the size of the reactor, the new technology offers a natural circulation design that produces power with a greatly simplified system. It helps reduce maintenance costs and improves safety, including resistance to earthquakes. Each of the nuclear power plant modules will produce 40,000 kilowatts (40 MegaWatts) of electricity. With its scalable design, it allows facility owners to co-locate multiple modules within a single power plant - adding capacity as it is required up to as much as 1,000 MegaWatts at one facility. This "scalability" is important as it allows a nation to diversify its energy generation so that if one power plant fails or needs to be taken off-line for maintenance or refueling the remainder of the grid can more easily support the one unit off-line.   The NuScale Power system operates at temperatures and pressures that are familiar in the industry, uses fuel that can be manufactured on the same lines as conventional reactor fuel, and uses conventional pressure vessel technology that is small enough to be produced in a number of qualified factories.  One key feature of this small reactor is that it will be completely assembled in a factory and shipped to the site ready for installation - another important factor in a developing country environment.

The design of the NuScale plant is based on decades of operating experience with light water reactor technology. Water acts as the primary coolant within the reactor system. Water is also turned into steam within the steam generators to turn the turbine generator that makes electricity. NuScale fuel is similar to the fuel used in current operating nuclear plants except that NuScale fuel assemblies are 2 meters long instead of 4 meters. Each assembly  contains 17 rows and each row holds 17 fuel rods.

   Benefits of the NuScale technology
  • NuScale has proven its technology in a one-third scale electrically-heated prototype pictured at left.
  • Total price of facility less than large nuclear systems - a major nuclear facility can cost over $6 Billion.  A single module NuScale system is a fraction of this.
  • Light-water reactor design is based upon existing knowledge base and known technology for both the industry and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • Small, modular nuclear power plant that can increase size and capacity incrementally over time by adding modules at a multi-module plant.
  • Owners can co-locate multiple units at one site – up to as much as 1,000 MWe at single location.
  • Simple design - passive cooling enhances safety.
  • Scalability makes plant more easily managed in a power grid.
  • All manufacturing can be done in the U.S. at multiple locations.
  • Online refueling provides for constant reliability and uptime.
Security and Safety:

The NuScale design incorporates a low profile reactor building, submerged containment, and impact shields that provide a hardened target against external threats.
  • The reactor building has a lower profile than a conventional nuclear plant.
  • The reactor and containment vessel are completely submerged in a water-filled pool below ground creating a low profile target.
  • The reactor is housed in a high pressure containment vessel capable of seven times the internal pressure of conventional containments.
  • A high-impact biological shield covers each module "bay."
  • Nuclear core cooling can be done without any external power, which limits plant vulnerability and loss of off-site power is not an issue.
The NuScale's technology grew out of a U.S. Department of Energy funded project developed in partnership with Oregon State University, the Idaho National Environmental and Engineering Laboratory and Nexant, Inc.  It was funded under the U.S. government’s Nuclear Energy Research Initiative. NuScale is now led by Dr. Paul Lorenzini as its Chief Executive Officer. Lorenzini, who holds a PhD in nuclear engineering, has extensive experience in both executive management and nuclear operations. Lorenzini held several executive positions with PacifiCorp and its domestic and international subsidiaries. These positions included President of Pacific Power & Light, CEO of PacifiCorp Turkey, and CEO of Powercor Australia. NuScale’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Jose N. Reyes, is an internationally-recognized expert in the design of passive safety systems for nuclear power plants. Dr. Reyes served as co-designer of the NuScale passively-cooled small nuclear reactor. Dr. Reyes currently serves as a United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Technical Expert on passive safety systems. He successfully established a 17-nation coordinated research program on Passive Safety Systems for the IAEA and also developed and directed a course on natural circulation and passive safety systems at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. He also has continued his involvement with Oregon State University as head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics. He directed the Advanced Thermal Hydraulic Research Laboratory (ATHRL) and was the co-director of the Battelle Energy Alliance Academic Center of Excellence (ACE) for Thermal Fluids and Reactor Safety in support of the Idaho National Laboratory mission. Additionally, Dr. Reyes was the OSU principal investigator for the Westinghouse AP600 and AP1000 certification test programs sponsored by the USNRC, the U.S. Department of Energy and Westinghouse.  Prior to joining the faculty at OSU, Dr. Reyes worked nearly 10 years as a thermal hydraulics research engineer in the Reactor Safety Division of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Maryland and a B.S. degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Florida. He is the author of numerous technical papers and has given lectures and keynote addresses to professional nuclear organizations in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

For more information: please visit www.NuScalePower.com

Picture below:
NuScale nuclear power plants operate on the principle of natural circulation.  In this convection process, water is heated by the nuclear fuel, rises within an internal chamber until it is drawn out and passes over steam generators.  The reactor water loses its heat when it turns water in the steam generators into steam to power the turbine generator and make electricity.  Each integrated NuScale containment vessel and reactor measures 18 meters in length by 4 meters in diameter and weighs 270 metric tones.

nuscale power


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