B&W’s fuel center will advance small reactor technology

Babcock & Wilcox (NYSE: BWC) has dedicated its new Fuel Technology Center in Lynchburg, Va., which will produce nuclear fuel for its B&W mPower small modular reactor (SMR).

Longer term, the technology developed at the center will give B&W the ability to support the manufacture of fuel for other reactors, B&W said in a July 30 statement.

B&W said the purpose of the center is to demonstrate key fabrication processes needed for the reactor fuel and fuel-related components for the small modular reactor. The center will also serve a variety of other functions, including testing the materials necessary for the work.

“Bringing a viable, proven SMR design to market requires an investment in facilities needed to qualify and manufacture reactor components,” said Babcock & Wilcox mPower President Christofer Mowry. “B&W is proud to add this dedicated facility to our robust B&W mPower development infrastructure,” Mowry said.

To date, B&W has invested more than $5m in the FTC. The facility includes modern robotics, inspection and welding equipment. No nuclear material is used at the facility. The plant will employ about 12 people.

“Today’s ribbon-cutting marks an important step forward in Virginia’s position on the cutting edge of the development of nuclear energy,” said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The B&W mPower reactor, with its scalable, modular design, is capable of adding generating capacity in 180 MWe increments to match our customers’ load growth projections. The B&W mPower reactor features a four-year operating cycle without refueling, B&W said on its website.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the B&W unit are studying placing several of B&W’s modular nuclear units at TVA’s Clinch River site in Roane County, Tenn. The proposed TVA project still requires approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Makers of small modular reactors, such as B&W, are applying for U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funding to commercialize this technology.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.