mPower Modular Nuclear Reactor for TVA
Modular nuclear reactors provide a much more versatile load matching for utility and grid designers. Babcock and Wilcox of Lynchburg, Virginia, build a modular 125 MW nuclear reactor called the mPower. The US TVA is lining up to be the lead client for the mPower, possibly siting the first modular reactor in the Oak Ridge area.
Here is a bullet list of the key features of the mPowerTM as I see them:Medium sized nuclear reactors of this type can be "ganged" to achieve the power production of a full-sized 1 GW reactor, or can be distributed at strategic locations along the grid to provide critical baseload power for a region if adjacent grid regions shut down for some reason.
* Pressurized water reactor (PWR) 17 x 17 fuel bundles
(Shorter than normal, but otherwise standard)
* Five year refueling schedule
* Fuel storage pool large enough for 60 years worth of fuel
* Adaptable to advances in LWR fuel
(MOX or thorium)
* Below grade construction in most locations
* Air cooled condensers
* Tall, thin pressure vessel
* Passive cooling
* Manufactured system with rail delivery to site
* American engineering and manufacturing (avoids queue at Japan Steel Works)
* 125 MWe of electrical power output
(I admit, I was wrong yesterday with my prediction of an even smaller system, but 125 MW is about 10th the size of the AP-1000.)
Knowing what I know about the company's performance for a very demanding customer, I feel reasonably confident that the timelines announced yesterday (design certification application in 2011, COL application in 2012, full license in 2015 and commercial operation in 2018) are not "stretch goals", but are reasonably achievable with some margin for the inevitable obstacles. _AtomicInsights
Like any nuclear reactor, it takes time to start up and shut down safely, so it would not serve as backup for unreliable wind power installations.
Small scale nuclear reactors -- smaller than the mPower -- would be ideal as local and regional baseload power in case of a large scale power shut down caused by EMP or excessive solar electromagnetic activity. In such a situation, available power components such as transformers and power electronics would be relatively scarce, and insufficient to support full scale power grid re-start. The grid would have to re-start in sections, as the components could be repaired, rebuilt, or replaced -- which could take years in some circumstances.
Labels: Nuclear Energy