GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has been chosen by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to lead an advanced nuclear technology development project for its BWRX-300, a 300MWe small modular reactor (SMR).


Image: A GE’s technology. Photo: courtesy of General Electric.

The project team consists of Exelon Generation, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy (HGNE), Bechtel and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

GEH said that the project aims to assess ways to simplify the BWRX-300 SMR design, reduce plant construction costs, and lower operations and maintenance costs.

The project will receive more than $1.9m in DOE funding, part of a nearly $20m investment in advanced nuclear technology announced by DOE.

GEH nuclear plant projects executive vice-president Jon Ball said: “We are excited to announce our continued industry collaboration to develop the BWRX-300, a potentially game changing technology.

“We have assembled a strong team of experts in nuclear plant design, construction methods and plant operations, with the goal of developing a clean energy solution that is cost-competitive with combined cycle gas generation and renewables.”

The project will see elimination of Loss of Coolant Accidents (LOCAs), use of an embedded (below grade) design and construction, as well as use of pooled off-site resources that can be applied simultaneously at multiple sites.

HGNE global business development & management division senior vice-president Masahito Yoshimura said: “The BWRX-300 is the ultimate simplification of the boiling water reactor which already had the intrinsic advantage of the direct steam cycle.

“We will contribute to this exciting project by bringing our advanced manufacturing and construction expertise, instrumental in completing our Japanese NPP projects on schedule and on budget, as well as our recently enhanced engineering capabilities developed for our UK ABWR project.”

Upon simplification of the design, GEH expects the BWRX-300 to require up to 60% less capital cost per MW when compared to other water-cooled SMRs or existing large nuclear designs.

These savings could make the BWRX-300 the cost-competitive with power generation from combined cycle gas and renewable, the firm said.

Bechtel’s nuclear power group operations manager Mike Robinson said: “We’ll look at ways to bring innovation and modular technology to the project with the goal of optimizing cost and schedule, which are key factors for companies and utilities examining SMRs.”