Westinghouse and Prodigy are collaborating on a transportable nuclear power plant (TNPP) that will feature one of Westinghouse’s eVinci microreactors, meant to serve power needs in remote or harsh climates like the Arctic.
Transportable nuclear power plants are factory-manufactured, movable nuclear power plants, which include floating nuclear power plants that are docked close to where energy is needed. The concept is meant to reduce the need for building permanent infrastructure, allowing the use of nuclear power in areas where it would otherwise be difficult.
The two companies, which have been collaborating since 2019 to evaluate deployment models for the eVinci microreactor, are still in the design stages of the project. Next steps include completing the development of a nuclear oversight model for TNPP manufacturing, outfitting and transport, and progressing licensing and site assessments to support a first project in Canada by 2030.
“From the start, our eVinci technology was designed to be transportable, that was a key design principle,” said Jon Ball, eVinci Technologies President for Westinghouse. “So, we designed it to be small, we made it plug-and-play, and we made it deliverable to anywhere. The TNPP from Prodigy brings an additional value to the inherent transportability of the technology.”
In a 2019-2020 study, Prodigy assessed the eVinci microreactor for deployment in a TNPP setting. The company then undertook the development of TNPP civil structures standardized for deployment at a range of sites. Prodigy’s Microreactor Power Station TNPP, which is intended to be able to integrate one or multiple 5MWe factory-built and fueled eVinci microreactors, would be prefabricated and transported to a site for installation at the shoreline or on land.
The core design of eVinci is built around a graphite core, with channels both for heat pipes and TRISO fuel pellets. Hundreds of passive in-core heat pipes, filled with liquid sodium, are intended to increase system reliability and safety. Pipes embedded in the core transfer heat from one end to the other, where it is captured in a heat exchanger. For cooling, each heat pipe contains a small amount of sodium liquid as the working fluid to move heat from the core and is fully encapsulated in a sealed pipe
Westinghouse engineers laud the microreactor’s passive cooling design. There are no pumps to circulate water or gas. The reactor’s heat pipes replace the reactor coolant pump, reactor coolant system, primary coolant chemistry control, and all associated auxiliary systems. It has few moving parts while operating, and Westinghouse says it can operate for eight-plus years without refueling.
The microreactor can generate 5 MW of electricity or 13 MW of heat from a 15 MW thermal core. Exhaust heat from the power conversion system can be used for district heating applications or low-temperature steam. eVinci could also be used in hydrogen production, maritime, or industrial heat applications.
Westinghouse looks to off-grid applications like remote communities and mine sites as the entry market for eVinci. But the microreactor could also serve industrial sites or data centers. In remote locations, it could replace diesel as a power-generating fuel, which is expensive to transport often hundreds of miles.
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