Bechtel, a global leader in engineering, procurement, construction, and project management, today announced it will join researchers from reactor designer GE Hitachi, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Exelon Power Generation Company as recipients of U.S. Department of Energy funding from its Advanced Nuclear Technology Development program. The research will investigate ways to efficiently build a plant using GE Hitachi’s BWRX-300 reactors.
“We’re excited to participate in this effort to study ways to build new plants using SMRs,” said Mike Robinson, operations manager of Bechtel’s nuclear power group. “We’ll look at ways to bring innovation and modular technology to the project with the goal of reducing cost and schedule, which are key factors for companies and utilities examining SMRs.”
The BWRX-300 reactor is designed for safety, simplicity, efficiency, and cost competitiveness. The research aims to identify ways to reduce plant completion costs from 40 to 60 percent versus other SMRs in development, making the reactors competitive in energy markets today and in the future.
The DOE award will provide 80 percent of the expected research costs up to about $2 million.
SMRs reduce costs through simplified designs and smaller sizes when compared with traditional light-water reactors. That results in the use of fewer construction materials and the ability to apply unique modularization and innovative construction techniques. In some cases, SMRs and modules can be built inside factories and then shipped to plant construction sites for final installation.
A nuclear industry leader for 60+ years
Bechtel has been a leader in nuclear services across the facility lifecycle. Since the 1950s Bechtel has performed services on more than 150 nuclear power units around the world, including Watts Bar Unit 2 in Tennessee, the last reactor to start up in the U.S. and the first to come online in the 21st century.
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. Today’s announcement is another example of Bechtel’s engagement with the advanced reactor community as newer technologies emerge. And, at the end of the fuel cycle, Bechtel led efforts to complete the design and federal license application for Yucca Mountain, a repository for used fuel from U.S. nuclear power plants.