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 Post subject: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: Apr 21, 2018 9:54 pm 
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Innovation seen as key to GE Hitachi’s future

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GE Hitachi will need to innovate if it is going to remain viable in an age where the economics of sprawling nuclear power plants often wrap the construction of new facilities in red tape, a senior official said this week at the 2018 State Energy Conference of North Carolina.

“We simply said, we’ve got to do something dramatically different. If this industry is going to survive going forward, we’ve got to think about it differently,” said Jon Ball, the executive vice president of Wilmington-headquartered GE Hitachi.

To find an answer, the company turned to customers and asked what products they are seeking, with responses indicating plants need to be competitive with natural gas. The company is now in the midst of developing a reactor, called the BWRX-300 that is much smaller than traditional reactors and, the company believes, cost-competitive.

“We’re designing it to become the most economical light water reactor in the world,” Ball said. “Right now, we don’t see another design that really comes close from a cost-effective standpoint.”

The BWRX-300 would be about 15,500 cubic meters, Ball said, compared to some other reactors that can stand as large as 161,000 cubic meters. To reach that, the GE Hitachi team stripped out cooling pools and backup systems that are designed to protect against a catastrophic loss-of-coolant accident, building a model that they believe prevents the possibility of such an incident. Furthermore, the estimated $700 million reactor would sit in a 20-meter diameter shaft drilled into the ground -- think a missile silo -- and covered with a concrete lid that would not be accessed outside of maintenance outages. When the GE Hitachi team set out to develop the technology, it targeted $2,000 per kilowatt production, a number where federal estimates show nuclear is extremely competitive with renewable technologies. Right now, it has the costs of BWRX-300 production estimated at $2,250 per kilowatt.

“Hitting this ($2,000 per kilowatt) target is relevant and, really, if new nuclear is going to have a future going forward,” Ball said, “these are the kind of price targets that we’re going to have to hit.”

GE, GE Hitachi and the joint GE and Hitachi holding Global Nuclear Fuel Holding Co. are housed together on GE’s Castle Hayne campus. According to the N.C. Department of Commerce, the companies each employee between 500 and 1,000 people and are the 15th-, 16th- and 17th-largest employers in New Hanover County. In 2017, GE Hitachi announced two rounds of layoffs, one in February and another shortly before Christmas. The announcements came around the time construction of two new reactors at Scana’s VC Summer Plant in South Carolina was canceled after costs swelled and questions swirled around the future of another planned pair of reactors in Georgia.


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 Post subject: Re: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: May 22, 2018 7:22 am 
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Dominion Energy invests in GE Hitachi SMR

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Jon Ball, Executive Vice President of Nuclear Plant Projects for GEH, said the company was "thrilled" at Dominion's investment, the size of which has not been announced. "The BWRX-300 represents a significant improvement in the economics of new nuclear, an imperative for the long-term viability of the industry. It is more efficient, simpler, safer and needs a fraction of the footprint compared to the current fleet of light water reactors," he said.

According to GEH, the BWRX-300 leverages the design and licensing basis of the ESBWR, which received design certification from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2014. The company projects the BWRX-300 will require up to 60% less capital cost per MW when compared to other water-cooled SMRs or existing large nuclear designs, which would make it cost-competitive with combined cycle gas and renewables.

"We believe that nuclear power has a vital role in ensuring a clean, reliable, and cost-effective supply of electricity to meet the needs of a growing economy," Dan Stoddard, Dominion Energy's , Chief Nuclear Officer, said. "We also believe the innovations GE Hitachi is pursuing with the BWRX-300 Small Modular Reactor have the potential to make it a strong competitor in the marketplace. Our view is that a modest investment now to support further development of this technology is in the interest of both companies."

GEH said Dominion Energy's funding of the BWRX-300 provides "seed money" to further work that could lead to commercialisation of the technology, but noted that Dominion "has no plan at this time" to build the reactor at any of its commercial nuclear plants. The NRC in 2015 approved a combined construction and operating licence (COL) for an ESBWR, Fermi 3, to be built by DTE Energy in Michigan. The ESBWR was also selected by Dominion Virginia Power as the technology of choice for a potential third reactor at North Anna in Virginia; for which a COL was issued in 2017. DTE has not to date taken a decision to proceed with Fermi 3, while Dominion placed the North Anna project on hold in September 2017.


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 Post subject: Re: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: May 24, 2018 4:24 am 
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They should build it at a place with less hostile regulations.


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 Post subject: Re: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: May 27, 2018 7:14 am 
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Some info here:

https://gain.inl.gov/SiteAssets/EARMSPr ... ar2018.pdf

Looks like a further simplified ESBWR. They could probably simplify some more by replacing the ICS with the Kerena reactor's emergency condenser and PPPTs for passive switching operations.

Interesting claims on single underground silo construction cost and schedule.

I don't get how they have eliminated loca. They still have all the steam, FW piping, ICS lines, etc. Without pressure suppression and a tiny containment how will they cope with leaks? Not to mention hydrogen threats. Perhaps they are planning on guard piping everything??


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 Post subject: Re: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: May 27, 2018 8:00 am 
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Well they might just have posited a LOCA where the silo just fills with water/steam and the core remains covered.


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 Post subject: Re: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: May 27, 2018 8:47 am 
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E Ireland wrote:
Well they might just have posited a LOCA where the silo just fills with water/steam and the core remains covered.


Sure, but this would require equalization between the RPV pressure and the containment - somewhere between zero and 7 MPa. IOW designing the containment for much higher pressures than usual. I guess that can be done esp. with an underground silo, where the ground provides additional support against internal pressure. Still hydrogen would seem an issue with a small dry containment. (when are those SiC-SiC fuel rods coming on?)

Personally I like the idea of just flooding that entire containment, so "inherent" pressure suppression. No steaming/pressurizing containment (given enough water volume). Just a vessel-in-a-pool type reactor. Makes for easy refueling too - everything is always in the flooded up level.


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 Post subject: Re: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: May 27, 2018 11:46 am 
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They can't get SiC-SiC to work in a BWR chemistry at the moment, turns out it is considerably more oxidising than what you find in a PWR and it just can't handle it, at least not yet.

So we are stuck with Zircalloy or ODS steel.

My now ongoing masters dissertation involves U-Mo alloy for HWRs, and PNNL thinks they can get reasonable enrichment levels using an annuluar U-Mo fuel slug that is coextruded with a very thin ODS steel cladding.


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 Post subject: Re: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: May 28, 2018 12:14 am 
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Thinking about innovation, we should go for a less volatile moderator-coolant. Castor oil could be a reference point. Search for more stable substitutes will continue. Pressure in reactor vessel or tubes will reduce resulting in safer designs.
It will act as an intermediate coolant like water in a PWR.


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 Post subject: Re: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: May 28, 2018 1:33 am 
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E Ireland wrote:
They can't get SiC-SiC to work in a BWR chemistry at the moment, turns out it is considerably more oxidising than what you find in a PWR and it just can't handle it, at least not yet.

So we are stuck with Zircalloy or ODS steel.

My now ongoing masters dissertation involves U-Mo alloy for HWRs, and PNNL thinks they can get reasonable enrichment levels using an annuluar U-Mo fuel slug that is coextruded with a very thin ODS steel cladding.


I thought it was very good at resisting oxidizing environments, and that it's only a stochiometry issue?


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 Post subject: Re: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: May 28, 2018 6:28 am 
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Cyril R wrote:
E Ireland wrote:
They can't get SiC-SiC to work in a BWR chemistry at the moment, turns out it is considerably more oxidising than what you find in a PWR and it just can't handle it, at least not yet.

So we are stuck with Zircalloy or ODS steel.

My now ongoing masters dissertation involves U-Mo alloy for HWRs, and PNNL thinks they can get reasonable enrichment levels using an annuluar U-Mo fuel slug that is coextruded with a very thin ODS steel cladding.


I thought it was very good at resisting oxidizing environments, and that it's only a stochiometry issue?


Apparently this EPRI study showed 21% mass loss in only 3 months at BWR conditions for a Channel Box, which is obviously not good.

They are apparently going to try depositing a thin layer of Zirconium Silicate on the surface to see if that helps with corrosion.


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 Post subject: Re: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: May 29, 2018 1:16 am 
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E Ireland wrote:
Cyril R wrote:
E Ireland wrote:
They can't get SiC-SiC to work in a BWR chemistry at the moment, turns out it is considerably more oxidising than what you find in a PWR and it just can't handle it, at least not yet.

So we are stuck with Zircalloy or ODS steel.

My now ongoing masters dissertation involves U-Mo alloy for HWRs, and PNNL thinks they can get reasonable enrichment levels using an annuluar U-Mo fuel slug that is coextruded with a very thin ODS steel cladding.


I thought it was very good at resisting oxidizing environments, and that it's only a stochiometry issue?


Apparently this EPRI study showed 21% mass loss in only 3 months at BWR conditions for a Channel Box, which is obviously not good.

They are apparently going to try depositing a thin layer of Zirconium Silicate on the surface to see if that helps with corrosion.


That's too bad, I hadn't expected SiO2 to have much solubility under BWR conditions. If that's true it's a bummer for BWRs.

Though, don't most BWRs these days operate under hydrogen water chemistry (HWC)?


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 Post subject: Re: GE-Hitachi BWRX-300
PostPosted: Jul 16, 2018 10:20 am 
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GE Hitachi Selected by U.S. Department of Energy to Lead Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Project for BWRX-300 with Exelon, Bechtel, HGNE and MIT

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GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to lead a team of industry experts for an advanced nuclear technology development project. The project will bring together a team consisting of Exelon Generation, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy (HGNE), Bechtel and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to examine ways to simplify the reactor design, reduce plant construction costs, and lower operations and maintenance costs for the GEH BWRX-300, a 300 MWe small modular reactor.


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