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Government funding for dodgy Westinghouse “micro-reactor”

Bagging DOE Support, Westinghouse Eyes Demonstration for Nuclear Micro-reactor by 2022, Power, 03/28/2019 | Sonal Patel   The Department of Energy (DOE) is funding a project that would prepare Westinghouse’s 25-MWe eVinci micro-reactor for nuclear demonstration readiness by 2022. The agency on March 27 said it will provide $12.9 million of the estimated $28.6 million Westinghouse needs for a project to prepare the micro-reactor for a demonstration, including for design, analysis, licensing to manufacture, siting, and testing. eVinci is one of three small modular reactors (SMRs) and the first micro-reactor whose first-of-a-kind development the DOE is subsidizing under a December 2017–issued “U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development” funding opportunity announcement (FOA). (Details of other projects that have won funding awards under previous rounds of the FOA are at the end of this article.)

The funding announcements are part of a recent ramp up in attention and efforts by the U.S. government to boost development of advanced nuclear technologies. Also on March 27, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation to bolster innovation for advanced reactors. Lawmakers said the U.S., which once led efforts to invent and commercialize key nuclear technologies, has “slipped” in leadership, and it risks losing out to Russia and China. 

…… According to Westinghouse, the eVinci reactor is an innovative combination of nuclear fission and space reactor technologies ……

However, Westinghouse admits that it is fielding a number of challenges related to the deployment of the micro-reactor. While the eVinci will use fuel enriched to 19.75 weight %, the industrial scale amount of uranium enriched to more than 5% is limited.  …….

Westinghouse also notes that while eVinci reactors will be manufactured and assembled in a factory, first reactor startup should also happen at that site, which means the factory will need to be equipped with radio protection equipment, safety and security systems, and have a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Transportation must also take into account safety and security. And because the reactor will be operated autonomously, Westinghouse will need to field first-of-their-kind challenges in licensing, instrumentation, remote reactor monitoring, and logistics…..

March 30, 2019 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA

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