Competition Begins For Designing a New Generation of Nuclear Power Plants
The United States Government has shown its commitment to support the development of a new generation of nuclear power plant (NGNP, Next Generation Nuclear Plant) that is more secure and safe.
World Nuclear News dated March 9, 2010 reported that two groups of technologies, each headed by General Atomics and Westinghouse, have been asked to complete the conceptual design and make detailed plans to build the NGNP.
The United States Government announced it would provide a total funding of $40 million to support both teams in the completion of their conceptual designs and plans for a NGNP until the end of August this year.
General Atomic team has suggested the GT-MHR (Gas Turbine Modular Helium Reactor), involving the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), and Fuji Electric Systems. Meanwhile, the Westinghouse team will make the PBMR concept, supported by PBMR Ltd, Shaw Group, Thosiba, Doosan, Insight Technology, and M-Tech Industrial.
Both designs will use nuclear fuel kernels coated with uranium oxide and covered with layers of carbon and carbides. In the GT-MHR kernels will be hexagonal blocks arranged in a compact terrace, while in the PBMR, kernels will be compiled in the form of balls in the larger terrace. Both will be cooled by using helium gas with a temperature of 850 degrees Celsius.
When the conceptual design is completed, this event will mark the completion of Phase I of the NGNP project. Phase II will begin with a selection, followed by design development and construction for the NGNP planned for Idaho.
The United States government's latest statement mentioned that the combined construction and operation license may be submitted to the regulator in 2013, with construction beginning in 2017 and operation in 2021.