The late 2020’s could see the start of a new age of factory mass produced nuclear power. The DOE is putting most of its first of its kind funding ($13 million out of $19 million) for advanced nuclear power research into the Westinghouse 25 MWe eVinci nuclear reactor. The funding will prepare Westinghouse’s 25-MWe eVinci micro-reactor for nuclear demonstration readiness by 2022.
New Age of Advanced Nuclear FissionThe eVinci will be mostly solid-state with very few moving parts. It will be using many heat pipes to transfer heat instead of water or steam. Eventually, these microreactor modules will be made in one month in a factory. They could be produced like airplane engines by the thousands. They will be walk-away safe and operate more efficiently and at lower-cost than existing nuclear reactors. They are targeting $2 per watt of electricity which means a cost of $20 million for a 10 MWe reactor that fits on truck. A 25 MWe nuclear reactor would cost $50 million. Forty such microreactors would be equal to a Gigawatt reactor and cost $2 billion. This is four times cheaper than current western nuclear reactors and as cheap as natural gas. The technological simplicity of the eVinci is what makes it unique. The reactor will operate autonomously. Its reactor core is a solid-steel monolith that features channels for fuel pellets, the moderator (metal hydride), and heat pipes, which are arranged in a hexagonal pattern. The monolith will serve as the second fission product barrier (the fuel pellet is the first barrier) as well as the thermal medium between the fuel channels and heat pipes. The heat pipes will extract heat from the core using a technology based on thermal conductivity and fluid phase transition. Key Attributes of eVinci Micro Reactor: * Transportable energy generator * Fully factory built, fueled and assembled * Combined heat and power – 200 kWe to 25 MWe * Up to 600ºC process heat * 5- to 10-year life with walkaway inherent safety * Target less than 30 days onsite installation * Autonomous load management capability * Unparalleled proliferation resistance * High reliability and minimal moving parts * Green-field decommissioning and remediation.
- eVinci (TM) Micro Reactor Nuclear Demonstration Unit Readiness Project – Westinghouse Electric Corp LLC (Cranberry Township, PA) is for Westinghouse and its team to prepare for the Nuclear Demonstration Unit (NDU) of the eVinci micro reactor through design, analysis, testing and licensing to manufacture, site and test the NDU by 2022.
DOE Funding: $12,879,797; Non-DOE: $15,675,350; Total Value: $28,555,147
SOURCES- Interview with DV Rao of Los Alamos, Westinghouse materials, DOE