Companies are developing Generation IV nuclear technology
Italy-based nuclear company Ansaldo Nucleare and US-based Westinghouse Electric Company have completed the first testing campaign at the passive heat removal facility recently built at Ansaldo Nucleare’s plant in Wolverhampton, central England.
The testing was part of efforts to develop Westinghouse’s Generation IV lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR) technology.
Ansaldo Nucleare led the design, purchase, installation and commissioning of two experimental facilities to support Westinghouse’s LFR technology. The two facilities are the versatile loop facility and the passive heat removal facility.
The facilities are a key asset for collecting experimental data for the development of Generation IV LFR technology.
Mark Urso, interim chief technology officer at Westinghouse, said moving into the testing phase “clearly demonstrates the maturity of the reactor development project that Westinghouse and Ansaldo Nucleare are advancing”.
The testing was part of a wider initiative launched by the cooperation agreement signed last October between Westinghouse and Ansaldo Nucleare for the joint development of LFR technology globally, and with near-term emphasis in key European countries such as the UK, Romania and Belgium.
According to Westinghouse, the 450-MW LFR is a medium-sized, passively safe modular reactor being developed to reduce front-end capital cost and generate flexible and cost-competitive electricity. For coolant, the LFR uses liquid lead, which absorbs more heat and unlike water, does not need to be pumped. If the plant loses power, the liquid lead keeps absorbing heat without getting to a dangerous temperature that would cause a meltdown.
Potential applications for the plant include district heating, hydrogen generation, power for remote communities and water desalination.
Ansaldo Nucleare said the company has strongly believed and invested in LFR technology since the beginning of the century and “shares a common vision with Westinghouse”.