GE Hitachi (GEH) is developing a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) SMR (Small Modular Reactor) for the near-term future. It is a smaller, yet simplified version of its licensed ESBWR ( Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor) and the only BWR SMR under development in the U.S. It is called the BWRX-300, as it is a 300-Megawatt electric (MWe) light water design.
The BWRX-300 design is based on a proven and licensed boiling water reactor technology, previously supported through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Power 2010 program. You may recall, that in 2018, Dominion Energy announced they would provide funding to help GEH with the development of their BWRX-300 design.
BWR’s produce steam inside their reactor pressure vessel which greatly reduces the complexity and size of the plant. This BWRX-300 design removes most of the systems needed to support a large-scale BWR, except for the isolation condenser system. This design will keep the isolation condenser at its original size to optimize performance – converting steam, exhausting the turbine, back to a liquid, initiating natural circulation and provide passive cooling. This additional water within the isolation condenser pools will enable indefinite cooling of the reactor’s components – allowing the reactor optimal pressure and temperatures for 7 days without power or operator intervention during off-normal events.
GEH also pointed out, that with the underground containment and smaller scale of the BWRX-300, the amount of concrete needed will be greatly reduced, significantly cutting capital costs when compared to the other SMR designs. Due to their experience, proven technology, common construction methods, and an established supply chain – GEH anticipates the BWRX-300 to enter commercial operation as early as 2027.