Facing the energy demand and the aging of their facilities, US utilities are planning to build new nuclear plants.
Entergy, Excelon, Dominion and Duke Power have all taken steps with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to obtain the necessary permits (the first three have already received approval for the selection of sites). But last nuclear plant built in the United States dates back to 1973 and the country today lack of expertise in this field.
Therefore, manufacturers have not yet made their decision on the technologies to be adopted. Among the solutions
envisaged, we find the AP1000 the American Westinghouse, based on the Pebble Bed - a small power 1000 megawatts reactor wherein the fuel is conditioned in the form of beads and that uses sodium as the coolant fluid. This device has the advantage, according to its designer, to provide better performance and better security (with a reduction of 50% of the number of components). Its European competitor Areva offers meanwhile a pressurized water reactor EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) with 4 emergency cooling systems instead of traditional 2. Finally General Electric develops a boiling water reactor called Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor where the primary circuit water, in direct contact with the core, is boiled to produce steam by operating the turbines. It should be noted that apart from any technological consideration, some experts are skeptical that new plants are actually controlled by 5 years due
huge investments required.
NYT 15 / 03 / 05 (Power
producteurs seek latest models for nuclear reactors)