Nuclear options identified for UK

Following the publication of the 2008 Energy White Paper, in which the government announced it’s intention to allow private companies to propose the building of new nuclear power plants, the parliamentary Office of Science and Technology has identified the two most likely technical solutions for the next generation of nuclear reactors.

The first is the AP-1000 Pressurised Water Reactor designed by the US company Westinghouse. Its safety systems rely on passive processes such as gravity and natural circulation to keep the reactor core cool and safe. Four units are currently under construction in China.

The second is the European/Evolutionary Pressurised Reactor developed by Areva NP, Siemens AG of Germany and Electricite de France (EDF), who are currently taking over British Energy. Units are under construction in Finland and France. Vendors describe the Gen III+ EPR as having four-fold redundancy in that safety features such as emergency backup power and its active-cooling systems are replicated four times.

Passive safety, as is used in the Westinghouse design is a feature of all modern reactors, relying on processes such as gravity, convection and condensation to keep the reactor safe. After initiation, they do not require human or machine intervention to maintain correct operation. The reduction in complexity then simplifies the construction.

More information from

Tom Shelley

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