B&W mPower™ Reactor Control Room Simulator Begins Operations
(CHARLOTTE, N.C. – December 4, 2012) – The Babcock & Wilcox Company (B&W) (NYSE: BWC) is pleased to announce that the production-standard control room prototype for its B&W mPower™ small modular reactor (SMR) is now operational. This engineering simulator is a key milestone in the B&W mPower development program.
The B&W mPower control room prototype, located in Lynchburg, Va., is built to the same production specifications as that which will control the two reactors in an actual B&W mPower SMR control room. The control room is connected to a plant engineering simulator to allow validation of the man-machine interfaces and operating controls architecture. Initially, the control room will help the B&W mPower design team to effectively incorporate lessons learned from real world operating experience, and discover any design issues early in the development cycle, reducing B&W mPower development risk and cost. As the B&W mPower program moves closer to deployment, the control room will be used to train future reactor operators.
“Completing the control room prototype at this stage of B&W mPower development program allows us to begin an intensive testing and development of the training program well in advance of deployment,” said Christofer Mowry, President, Babcock & Wilcox mPower, Inc. “Having the ability to train operators two to three years ahead of commercial operation will keep us on the critical path toward timely development and operation at our Clinch River project by 2021.”
The facility will be used by about two dozen engineers, creating new jobs starting next year. Using their experience operating existing reactors, these engineers will refine B&W mPower plant system design and the reactors response to a variety of anticipated and postulate events.
The B&W mPower control room design is intended to optimize licensed reactor operator staffing levels by utilizing state-of-art, human-focused design principles to reduce the potential for errors. The control room prototype is located at B&W’s Lynchburg facility, the primary reactor and component design and testing location for the mPower America team.
Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., The Babcock & Wilcox Company is a leader in clean energy technology and services, primarily for the nuclear, fossil and renewable power markets, as well as a premier advanced technology and mission critical defense contractor. B&W has locations worldwide and employs approximately 12,700 people, in addition to approximately 10,400 joint venture employees. Learn more at www.babcock.com.
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward Looking Statements
B&W cautions that this release contains forward-looking statements, including statements relating to the anticipated use of and benefits from the control room and the timeframes expressed regarding the control room and B&W mPower development. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties, including, among other things, our inability to fund research and development efforts for B&W mPower or adverse changes in the competitiveness of nuclear power. If one or more of these or other risks materialize, actual results may vary materially from those expressed in this release. For a more complete discussion of these and other risk factors, please see B&W’s annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011 and subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. B&W cautions not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this release, and undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, except to the extent required by applicable law.
Communications Manager The Babcock & Wilcox Company
Vice President, Treasurer and Investor Relations
The Babcock & Wilcox Company
Disclosure My day job is with B&W mPower, Inc. I have been watching the hard work that has turned this simulator into a reality for the past several months, but the above is a direct copy of a widely distributed press release without any commentary.
So far from what I read I like that company. Specifically the smaller, more manageable systems and ideas like underground reactors.
I hope those that are involved there are motivated. More than just their financial success is at issue here. Much more. I also hope they can pull it off and improve the nuclear power technology footprint in this country and elsewhere.
Rod – can you get us some pictures or technical details that are not proprietary? For example, which software language are they using for the operating system? Will the simulator be qualified for engineering analyses or just operator training? Have they decided how many units will be operated from a common control room and how many operators will be required? My understanding is that the last question is still being negotiated with the NRC.
I will ask some of my colleagues to attempt to answer your questions.
As you might understand, there are commercial considerations involved in oversharing too early. Believe it or not, our competitors are members of the public who can also read blogs.
You mention this is one control room for 2 reactors. As I understand, the current regulations require one control room per reactor. Obviously with digital control systems one control room could control dozens of reactors. Has the NRC made any decisions about changing this rule to modernize the control room technology?
Current regulations allow for more than one reactor to be controlled from one control room.
The table in 10 CFR 50.54 includes a column for staffing levels for two reactors controlled by a single control room.
The NRC has been studying the impact of digital control systems and the potential for even more units to be controlled from a single room, but no rule changes have been issued.
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