Atomic Show #306 – Dr. Rita Baranwal, Westinghouse AP300

Westinghouse, one of the world’s first nuclear power plant vendors, recently announced a new small modular reactor (SMR) design called the AP300. It is described as a simplified version of the AP1000, four of which are currently operating in China and two of which are in the final stages of operational testing in Georgia, United States. Six additional AP1000s are under construction. In a May 4, 2023 press release, Westinghouse summarized the AP300 as follows: Westinghouse Electric Company today launched its newest nuclear technology, the AP300™ small modular reactor (SMR), a 300-MWe single-loop pressurized water reactor. The AP300 SMR design is scaled from the advanced, proven AP1000® reactor and is the only SMR truly based on an Nth-of-a-kind operating plant.   The AP300 SMR is an ultra-compact, modular-constructed unit that leverages the innovation and operational knowledge of the global AP1000 fleet. It will utilize identical AP1000 technology, to include major equipment, structural components, passive safety, proven fuel, and I&C systems. The AP300 will bring to bear a mature supply chain, constructability lessons learned, fast load-follow capabilities and proven O&M procedures and best practices from 18 reactor years of safe AP1000 operations.  Westinghouse Unveils Game-Changing AP300™ Small Modular Reactor for Mid-Sized Nuclear Technology In a Nuclear Engineering International article Westinghouse President & CEO Patrick Fragman expanded on the press release statement. It is using the DNA of the AP1000 in terms of technology.” It “has unique advantages in terms of robustness of the safety case, simplicity of the design, with huge implications in terms of costs and time to construct and obviously an ease of deployment because, with the AP1000 being already deployed, the AP300 SMR will leverage the existing supply chain, the existing design, the existing licensing pedigree”. Fragman described it as “no more and no less than an AP1000 with one loop instead of two loops”. This means it is reusing a majority of components, systems, equipment. “The fuel is identical, the constructability lessons are identical,” he said. Westinghouse launches AP300 small modular reactor That description sounded exciting and intriguing. Though the advertised power capacity would be approximately one quarter of the power output of the AP1000, it seemed that the plant would be an easier-to-construct version that could sail through licensing and require a modest detailed engineering effort. It would be a design that was familiar to those who had already completed one or more AP1000 units. There was a fair amount of discussion among engineers and other nuclear advocates on Twitter about the plant’s equipment choices, its status as an SMR and the announced timeline for design certification and operational deployment. The Westinghouse press release also informed the world that Dr. Rita Baranwal, a former Assistant Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Energy, would lead the development of the AP300 as the Senior Vice President of Westinghouse’s Energy Systems business unit. Rita and I have known each other for a long time,

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The Atomic Show Podcast includes interviews, roundtable discussions and atomic geeks all centered around the idea that nuclear energy is an amazing boon for human society.