France is setting up detailed studies to position the country as a leading player in small and medium-sized reactors (SMRs). DCNS will work with AREVA, EDF and the CEA on the next phase of its Flexblue development. This will include detailed reviews of:
1. technical and production options
2. market potential
3. Flexblue’s competitive standing compared with other sources of energy
4. nuclear proliferation issues
5. safety and security aspects of seafloor power plants with a view to demonstrating that Flexblue offers a level of safety comparable with that of third-generation land-based nuclear power plants.
These studies are expected to take two years.
Flexblue is a small nuclear power plant producing 50 to 250 MWe designed to be installed on the seafloor off the coast of maritime nations.
The power plant proper comprises a nuclear reactor, a steam turbine-alternator set and associated electrical equipment. Submarine power cables will carry electricity from the Flexblue plant to the coast. Flexblue plants are designed to be moored on an extremely stable seafloor at a depth of 60 to 100 meters a few kilometers off shore. Ballast tanks will be used to raise or lower the plant during installation and for major maintenance, refueling or dismantling.
A Flexblue plant should be able to meet the electricity requirements of regions with a population of 100,000 to 1,000,000, depending on the plant’s power rating, living standards and the needs of local industries. The Flexblue concept calls for plant housed in a cylindrical hull measuring around 100 meters in length by 12 to 15 meters in diameter for a total mass of around 12,000 metric tons. Each hull and power plant would be transportable using a purpose-built vessel.
Proven technologies, innovative solution
Flexblue is based entirely on proven technologies combined in a new way. The result is a major innovation in the global energy market. The concept draws on DCNS’s 40 years’ experience in nuclear engineering and a century of experience in submarine design and construction. It also benefits from the Group’s unique expertise in naval systems and nuclear propulsion. Flexblue brings together the very best of DCNS’s know-how in submarine engineering and marine environments to ensure performance, reliability, safety, durability and environmental protection.
Proven reactor design
Flexblue integrates reactors based on those developed for current-generation nuclear-powered submarines. These reactors are designed and built by Areva, the CEA and DCNS under Areva TA prime contractorship using design concepts that have proven their reliability and safety. Compared with the reactors powering nuclear submarines, which are specifically designed for naval propulsion, Flexblue reactors will be tailored for continuous power generation. Because Flexblue is based on a modular design concept, it is inherently compatible with current and future generations of small- and medium-sized reactors (SMRs).
French DCNS to develop subsea small modular nuclear reactors with key partners