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Bechtel Selected to Participate in U.S. Versatile Test Reactor Program

  • 14 November 2018
  • Europe, Middle East & Africa, Nuclear, Nuclear, Security and Environmental , Press Release

Company will support GE Hitachi in design, cost estimating, scheduling vital to future of advanced nuclear reactors

Bechtel, a global leader in engineering, procurement, construction, and project management, today announced it has been selected to participate in the research and development phase of a program critically important to the future of  advanced nuclear power reactors in the U.S. With nuclear industry leader GE Hitachi, the team will advance the conceptual design and cost estimates for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) planned for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Instead of producing electricity, the Versatile Test Reactor would conduct irradiation testing for fuels, materials, and equipment to be used in rapidly evolving designs for advanced reactors brought forward by U.S. companies, as well as public and private research institutions.

“Advanced reactors hold great promise but their fuels and materials need the proper testing before they can be licensed and used in energy-producing reactors,” said Peggy McCullough, a Bechtel senior vice president and general manager of Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security, and Operations business line. “The U.S. currently has no capability to test these components. That testing capability is what the Versatile Test Reactor will provide. It’s extremely important for the science community, industry, regulators, and the future of nuclear energy research.”

The Bechtel team will perform conceptual design of the non-nuclear facilities surrounding the test reactor – a sodium-cooled fast reactor based on GE Hitachi’s PRISM design. The team will also develop a comprehensive cost estimate for the entire project and develop a schedule that supports reactor startup by 2026.

GE Hitachi President and CEO Jay Wileman said, “Our VTR project team combines GEH’s strength as a nuclear plant vendor, service provider and nuclear fuel fabricator with Bechtel’s strength in nuclear project management, engineering, procurement and construction. The mature PRISM technology is ideally suited to meet the VTR mission needs.”

The VTR would have the ability to conduct a large number of experiments simultaneously. The work will be performed under contract to Battelle Energy Alliance, the management and operating contractor for the Idaho National Laboratory.

Safer, less waste, no greenhouse gases

Advanced, or Gen IV, reactors are cooled by substances other than water, such as liquid sodium, molten salts, gas, or molten lead. They are inherently safer because they can cool without backup power, produce less radioactive waste, and, as with all nuclear power plants, produce no greenhouse gases during operation.

Bechtel has been a leader in nuclear services across the facility lifecycle. Since the 1950s, Bechtel has performed work on more than 150 nuclear power units around the world and on all major reactor designs.  Bechtel is now completing construction on Plants Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in the U.S. state of Georgia, the only active new nuclear plant construction project in the nation.

About GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy

Based in Wilmington, N.C., GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) is a world-leading provider of advanced reactors and nuclear services. Established in 2007, GEH is a global nuclear alliance created by GE and Hitachi to serve the global nuclear industry. The nuclear alliance executes a single, strategic vision to create a broader portfolio of solutions, expanding its capabilities for new reactor and service opportunities. The alliance offers customers around the world the technological leadership required to effectively enhance reactor performance, power output and safety. 

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About Bechtel

Bechtel is a trusted engineering, construction and project management partner to industry and government. Differentiated by the quality of our people and our relentless drive to deliver the most successful outcomes, we align our capabilities to our customers’ objectives to create a lasting positive impact. Since 1898, we have helped customers complete more than 25,000 projects in 160 countries on all seven continents that have created jobs, grown economies, improved the resiliency of the world's infrastructure, increased access to energy, resources, and vital services, and made the world a safer, cleaner place.  

Bechtel serves the Energy; Infrastructure; Manufacturing & Technology; Mining & Metals; and Nuclear, Security & Environmental markets. Our services span from initial planning and investment, through start-up and operations.

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