Union will speed up advances

GE Hitachi likes Aiken's support of nuclear study

AIKEN --- Savannah River Nuclear Solutions announced Wednesday a second partnership in two months to assist the Savannah River National Laboratory's efforts to build small modular nuclear reactors.

SRNS will partner with Wilmington, N.C.-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to create a prototype of GE's PRISM reactor, according to Garry Flowers, the CEO and president of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions.

Savannah River National Lab Director Terry Michalske said the partnership would allow the site to continue being the "test bed for the nuclear renaissance."

The GE Hitachi PRISM recycles nuclear fuel to generate electricity. While the PRISM's design would mostly power Savannah River Site, there is potential to partner with local power companies, Michalske said.

The memorandum of understanding would allow the partnership to pursue licensing the 299-megawatt reactor with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

No information was provided for a timeline for seeking NRC approval and moving into production, but the project has the potential to create 60,000 manufacturing jobs nationwide to meet expectations of assembling 1,000 reactor models.

Christopher Monetta, GE Hitachi's senior vice president, said the company was attracted to Aiken's versatile plant, and its community and education system that was already supportive of nuclear research.

Last month the first move was made to create a multi-reactor energy park at SRS with the announcement of a partnership with New Mexico-based Hyperion Power to create a hydrogen model to produce synthetic fuels. The project is estimated to cost between $150 million and $200 million with a deployment by 2020.

Flowers said the partnership with the two companies isn't meant to create a contest, but to enable advancement of the technology at a faster pace.

"The designs are different in nature and it's not so much competition, but allowing various markets to sort out what makes sense for their space," Flowers said.

Fact sheet and diagram on the PRISM nuclear power system (.pdf)
Case study and details on the history of small nuclear power reactors (.pdf)
Diagram on the PRISM nuclear power system (.jpg)