GE Hitachi, Southern Nuclear to collaborate on advanced nuclear reactors

Hitach-GE's U.K. Advanced Boiling Water Reactor design

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Southern Nuclear have agreed to collaborate in studying the development and licensing of advanced nuclear reactors including GEH’s PRISM sodium-cooled fast reactor design.

“Southern Nuclear’s operational experience, technical expertise and leadership in innovation are significant strengths that will benefit our work together to support the commercialization of advanced nuclear reactor technology,” said Jay Wileman, president and CEO, GEH. “With a design that can extract energy from used nuclear fuel to generate electricity, our PRISM advanced reactor technology is a game-changer.”

In a memorandum of understanding signed by GEH and Southern Nuclear Development, a subsidiary of Southern Nuclear Operating Co., the companies have also agreed to work together toward participating in future U.S. Department of Energy advanced reactor licensing projects.

“The relationship with GE Hitachi is an exciting step on our continued journey towards maintaining nuclear energy’s key position in providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy for future generations,” said Stephen Kuczynski, chairman, president and CEO, Southern Nuclear. “We are fully committed to moving the industry forward, and by pursuing this goal together, we are best able to leverage our combined strengths in research and commercial operations to bring advanced nuclear technology to market.”

PRISM is a sodium-cooled, high energy neutron (fast) reactor design which uses a series of proven, safe and mature technologies developed both in the U.S. and abroad. The PRISM design has benefited from the operating experience of EBR-II, an integral fast reactor prototype which was developed by Argonne National Laboratory and operated for more than 30 years in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

GEH believes that no U.S. fast spectrum reactor technology has more testing, design or operational experience than PRISM. On this basis, PRISM seems well positioned to continue the licensing process and to generally provide a critical regulatory path for licensing of other advanced reactor technology in the U.S.

According to an analysis performed by GEH, which assumes a quantity of 178,000 metric tons of nuclear material contained in used fuel stocks worldwide, by using PRISM technology on a commercialized basis, all the world’s used fuel could eventually be consumed while at the same time providing enough clean, carbon-free energy to power all global households, (estimated at about 1.6 billion living units) for as long as 200 years, based on a per household consumption of 3,400 kWh/year.

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