Westinghouse is Supporting the Next Cool Thing in Nuclear
Imagine a remote outpost in an arctic region, the Northern Lights fluttering in the distant night sky, and important work taking place in and around the facility. Currently, the most likely way this laboratory or industrial operation or military base can be powered and heated is through transported diesel fuel—both expensive and polluting, or a grid-based coal-fired plant if nearer a coastal region, also polluting.
Westinghouse and Prodigy are designing a solution for the constant demands for electricity and heat in these types of harsh, remote climates: a Transportable Nuclear Power Plant (TNPP) featuring an eVinci™ microreactor from Westinghouse.
Taking Nuclear Power on the Road, and MoreThe IAEA defines a TNPP as “a factory manufactured, movable nuclear power plant… capable of producing final energy products such as electricity and heat.” This includes “Floating Nuclear Power Plants” that are docked close to where the energy is needed, reducing the need for building the permanent infrastructure. Half-a-dozen countries are pursuing FNPPs, but the idea (and practice) of marine-based nuclear power plants goes back to the 1960s, including “naval facilities and nuclear icebreakers.” Marine-based nuclear reactors can be beneficial to power offshore oil and gas platforms, commercial seaports, deep sea mining operations and desalination.
The two companies have been collaborating since 2019 to evaluate deployment models for the eVinci microreactor. A multinational corporation operating strategic critical minerals assets in Canada funded a study in 2019-2020 to identify more reliable clean energy sources. In the study, Prodigy assessed the eVinci microreactor for deployment in a marine facility fixed at shoreside to power a remote mine.
Following the study, Prodigy pioneered the development of TNPP civil structures standardized for deployment at a wide range of sites. The Prodigy Microreactor Power Station™ TNPP, which can integrate a single or multiple 5MWe factory-built and fueled eVinci microreactors, would be prefabricated and transported to a site for installation at the shoreline or on land. The TNPP could supply reliable electricity and heat to remote industrial sites, data centers, communities, defense installations, and to islands and island nations.
Jon Ball, President, eVinci Technologies
“From the start, our eVinci technology was designed to be transportable, that was a key design principle,” said Jon Ball, eVinci Technologies President for Westinghouse. “So, we designed it to be small, we made it plug-and-play, and we made it deliverable to anywhere. The TNPP from Prodigy brings an additional value to the inherent transportability of the technology.”
The eVinci microreactor is the ideal technology to support the TNPP platform. It uses heat pipes filled with liquid sodium to transfer heat from the reactor core to a power generation system. It requires no water in its operation, so no cooling pumps or other systems found in traditional light water reactors. It has few moving parts while operating, which it can do for eight-plus years without refueling. Because of these attributes it is often referred to as a nuclear battery.
“The eVinci microreactor’s compact design and simplified operating requirements make it optimal for integration into a Prodigy TNPP. Our technology will enable fleet deployment of the eVinci, accelerating the timeline to deliver clean, reliable and affordable power at commercial scale to remote regions,” said Mathias Trojer, President and CEO, Prodigy Clean Energy.
Mathias Trojer, President and CEO, Prodigy
The TNPP would support safety and security measures, operating efficiency, waste prevention and mitigation, and robustness against natural and manmade hazards, including withstanding the harshest environmental and climatic conditions. At the end of project life, the entire power plant would be removed for decommissioning, enabling immediate site recovery and repurposing.
Westinghouse and Prodigy signed an agreement in 2022 and have completed milestones for conceptual engineering and regulatory studies. Part of the work is being conducted with an award from Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund that Westinghouse received in 2022.
“There is a lot of interest in seeing this project progress and succeed, not just between our companies, but from stakeholders who realize the strategic advantages of a TNPP,” said Ball. “This initiative will further expand opportunities to provide always-on power in areas where the construction of nuclear projects would be traditionally considered economically or technically impractical.”
Next steps for Westinghouse and Prodigy include completing the TNPP design for the eVinci microreactor, completing development of a nuclear oversight model for TNPP manufacturing, outfitting and transport, and progressing licensing and site assessments to support a first project in Canada by 2030.
Conceptual layout of a marine (shoreline) installed Prodigy Microreactor Power Station™ TNPP that can integrate a single or multiple Westinghouse eVinci™ microreactors. The facility is non-self-propelled.