Watts Bar 2 Nuclear Plant Achieves First Criticality

Watts Bar 2 achieves first criticality

Operators at the Watts Bar 2 nuclear project reached a major milestone when the reactor achieved its first sustained nuclear fission reaction.

Unit 2 is now generating heat under its own power in a process also called initial criticality. Like Unit 1, Unit 2 is designed to produce electricity by using controlled nuclear fission to generate heat, which is then used to produce steam to turn turbines and a single generator.

The reactor is operating at low power levels that will slowly be increased in the coming weeks as part of the power ascension testing. During testing, plant systems and controls will be monitored and tested at various power levels up to 100 percent. The tests will be repeated multiple times to ensure the system is operating as designed. Once tests are completed, the unit will provide a sustained 1,150-MW of electricity to the Tennessee Valley.

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