An Areva prismatic steam-cycle high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (SC-HTGR) concept has been selected by the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) Industry Alliance as the optimum design for next generation nuclear power plants. In addition to generating electricity, these modular plants could produce process heat for use by industry.
Three companies were selected to conduct design and engineering studies for the NGNP: General Atomics, Areva and Westinghouse/PBMR. General Atomics submitted conceptual plant configurations based on its Gas-Turbine Modular Helium Reactor (GT-MHR), while Areva put forward concepts based on its similar Antares HTGR design. Meanwhile, Westinghouse and PBMR submitted conceptual configurations based on the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR)
The Alliance said that it had reached the same conclusions as INL: that there is “currently no substantive technical differentiation that provides the basis for choosing the reactor design concept – whether pebble bed or prismatic; there currently is no reason to believe that there will be a substantial difference in the costs and plant economic evaluations outside of the achievable power rating; and, either design concept can be successfully licensed.” However, the Alliance noted that the “only practical differentiators are associated with the anticipated difference in capital cost for the range of reactor concept ratings achievable for each and the business case for reactor design development and licensing.” Capital costs for a plant with an installed capacity of 2400-3000 MWt would be some 30% less using 625 MWt prismatic reactor modules than with 250 MWt pebble bed modules.
NGNP also noted that Areva has the technical and design capabilities to develop a HTGR for the process heat co-generation and generation markets. The French company, which has been developing the prismatic HTGR design has also indicated a willingness to bring their background intellectual property in both pebble-bed and prismatic HTGRs to the Alliance for further development.