Westinghouse SMR: The Next Step in Nuclear Energy

Posted February 6, 2015 by Robin Rickman

As a global nuclear energy leader, Westinghouse has taken another step forward in simplicity and passive safety with our new, smaller-footprint advanced light-water reactor design. Our conceptual Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor (SMR) is based on decades of Westinghouse knowledge, capabilities and licensing experience, coupled with a legacy of licensed AP1000® Plant passive safety technology and components. 

The Westinghouse SMR incorporates these legacy features in a compact design that is suitable for base-load operations and yet, it is both flexible and responsive to frequent changes in electrical demand. This load-following capability will allow utilities to easily integrate the Westinghouse SMR into a portfolio of other generating sources, including variable renewable sources, without sacrificing plant efficiency. It is also a perfect replacement for retiring coal plants or as a fill-in for incremental increases in capacity. It has an unmatched power density that our development team was able to achieve by configuring the AP1000 Plant loop-arranged technology into a tiny, integral reactor housed in a very small nuclear island. This compact powerhouse offers utilities a sound option for grid-limited or remote applications and does so with enhanced plant security and increased proliferation resistance with below grade safety systems, containment vessel and fuel storage.

Our SMR core, fuel design, fuel cycle and refueling systems are based on existing technology and a licensing basis to reduce development time and licensing risk. Additional advantages from the adaptation of our licensed predecessor technologies include a significantly reduced development effort for certain critical components, such as the SMR control rod drive mechanism, which utilizes AP1000 Plant CRDMs. And also for entire system platforms, such as the Westinghouse SMR instrumentation and controls. The Westinghouse SMR I&C platform is based on the AP1000 Plant’s digital I&C systems for normal plant operations and protection and safety functions that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has already approved for use in the AP1000 Plant.

Westinghouse is the first reactor vendor in the United States to license and apply modular manufacturing processes to a nuclear power plant design. In the case of the Westinghouse SMR, the entire nuclear generating station is modular, which should provide substantial flexibility in the construction and financing schedules, resulting in significant cost savings for new nuclear construction.

In other words, the Westinghouse SMR technology is firmly founded on advanced, licensed technologies. This simple but important fact gives Westinghouse a decided advantage in terms of the development effort required to license a new design and our customers a true economic advantage over other small plant designs. The company will make additional investments in the program when market conditions and external interests are ready for the next steps.

To learn more about how the Westinghouse SMR will evolve the nuclear industry, read Kristofer Paserba’s feature article published in the December 2014 issue of Nuclear News.

  Robin Rickman

  Director, New Reactor Projects, New Plant Project Advancement
  Westinghouse Electric Company


Categories: Innovation
Tags: SMR, Modular, Reactor, AP1000, nuclear, licensing, NRC,