Westinghouse Electric Company said Thursday that it was awarded $5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. The funding will be used to develop a self-regulating solid core block (SCB) that employs solid materials (instead of bulk liquid flow or moving parts) to inherently self-regulate the reaction rate in a nuclear reactor.
The development of the SCB is a key component of Westinghouse’s eVinciTM micro reactor concept – a next-generation, very small modular reactor for decentralized generation markets.
Westinghouse’s chief technology officer Ken Canavan called the funding insightful. "DOE funding for these projects is essential to developing game-changing, next-generation technologies to generate environmentally sound energy that also addresses shifting global market needs," he said.
The eVinci generator marks a new direction for the builder of massive commercial reactors. The generators produce under 15 megawatts-electric, which allows for easier transportation and rapid deployment. "in contrast to large, centralized stations," the company said.
The micro reactor is designed to run for up to 10 years, eliminating the need for frequent refueling. The nature of the Westinghouse design will allow the reactor to operate and achieve safe shutdown without the need for additional controls, external power source or operator intervention, enabling highly autonomous operation.
As part of this project, the team will conduct modeling and simulation to demonstrate the SCB’s self-regulating ability, with additional testing to validate modeling and simulation tools, and confirm manufacturability.
Westinghouse received this competitive award from ARPA-E’s Modeling-Enhanced Innovations Trailblazing Nuclear Energy Reinvigoration (MEITNER) program. MEITNER projects will leverage design, new manufacturing processes, and technologies to lower costs and increase the competitiveness of nuclear power, Westinghouse said.
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