By Eleanor Kennedy
The control room prototype for Babcock & Wilcox’s mPower reactor model is now fully operational at B&W’s Lynchpin Industrial Park facility in Lynchburg, the company announced Tuesday.
The completion of the control room allows the company to begin intensive testing of the mPower reactor as well as develop training well in advance of deployment, which is projected for the next several years.
According to a release from the company, the control room will help the mPower design team incorporate lessons from real-world operating experience and discover design issues early in the development cycle. It eventually will be used to train future reactor operators.
The full functional control room will add about a dozen engineering jobs, the company said.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after B&W was named the winner of Department of Energy funding – which could total as much as $452 million over five years – for its work on developing a small modular reactor.
B&W, headquartered in Charlotte, employs about 2,400 people in the Lynchburg area, with about 170 employees committed to the mPower project.
The mPower reactor is capable of generating 180 megawatts of electricity and multiple reactors can be located on one site. The company plans to submit its design application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2014, and hopes to have its first mPower reactor built by the early 2020s.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, one of B&W’s partners on mPower development, is preparing an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to license up to four B&W mPower reactors at its Clinch River Site in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
“Having the ability to train operators two to three years ahead of commercial operation will keep us on the critical path toward timely development and operation at our Clinch River project by 2021,” said B&W President Christofer Mowry in a news release.