New Nuclear Technology May Debut in Missouri

Reactor construction hinges on U.S. Department of Energy investment funds.
April 24, 2012

By Government Technology News Staff

Callaway County, Mo., could be home to a new generation of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMR) if a plan with broad support from the Missouri energy community gets funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.

Just northeast of state capital Jefferson City, Callaway County has been home to a nuclear power plant since 1984. The existing plant is operated by energy company Ameren Missouri.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced at a news conference Thursday, April 19, that Westinghouse Electric Company, along with Ameren Missouri, will submit an application for funding for the reactor next month. According to Nixon’s news release, federal officials intend to announce investment recipients within two months of the application deadline.

As much as $452 million is available through this grant to finance 50 percent of design and licensing costs for SMRs at U.S.-owned facilities on U.S. soil. The complete grant opportunity can be found here.

Described as highly compact, the smaller modular reactors are simpler to build and operate more safely than larger reactors, according to the World Nuclear Association, an industry group. The SMR from Westinghouse is a 225 megawatt pressurized water reactor, with all major elements housed inside the reactor vessel. The reactors use safety systems, a simplified design and modular construction techniques already licensed in Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor unit.

In Missouri, officials are optimistic that the reactor could contribute to the state’s energy needs, as well as become an exportable commodity around the globe.

“Designing, developing and commercializing next-generation nuclear technology will create good jobs for Missourians, expand our global exports, and ensure that Missouri has affordable, abundant, safe and reliable power for generations to come,” Nixon said in a statement.

Westinghouse cited the Missouri workforce, availability of research institutions and culture of support for nuclear power as reasons why the state is well suited for the SMR project. In addition, the company believes the state’s central location along two major rivers will be helpful in transporting future SMRs to the international marketplace.

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