SmartPlanet and Southworth on the Future of US Nuclear


Dr. Finis Southworth, CTO of AREVA Inc., is featured in SmartPlanet’s post on America’s Nuclear Future. The article covers many key topics about the future of US nuclear power; here are some excerpts:

SmartPlanet begins by discussing with Southworth the relatively close future, already informed by the issues at Fukushima:

There are a total of 104 nuclear plants in the U.S today, according to NRC data. 61 were recently given another 20 years to operation, and most of the remaining plants should be relicensed with NRC reviews and upgrades, nuclear reactor designer AREVA’s CTO Dr. Finis Southworth said…

The U.S. nuclear industry is steadfast in its position that nuclear power is safe today, and that it will become even safer in the future, also helping to address climate change. AREVA’s Southworth told SmartPlanet that NRC safety procedures could have prevented a Fukushima Daiichi like meltdown in the U.S.

…“The NRC will make sure that the industry in the U.S. learns from every lesson available over past 30 years,” Southworth said.

And then Southworth describes some of the latest features in Gen III nuclear technologies:

Southworth noted that Areva’s newest design, the EPR, or Evolutionary Power Reactor, has more redundant systems than the Fukushima Daiichi facilities had. It meets stringent 1990’s European safety standards, and the company spent 15 years on its design, he said….

“Every vendor including us has been on generation 3+ [reactor designs] since 1990-2005, arriving at a design much more advanced in safety,” Southworth said. The generation III designs incorporate evolutionary upgrades over previous designs, and has new passive safety features….

The article closes offering a glimpse at the next generation of nuclear solutions:

Designs for forth generation reactor designs that will not require active cooling systems to be safe will not be available under the 2030’s, and will take a few more years to build after plans are ready, according to Southworth….

Areva is instead preparing a derivative 4th generation design based on a project called the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). Its NGNP implementation will be know as the HTR reactor. HTR design introduces a new fuel rod technology that unlike pebble fuel, “doesn’t move around,” Southworth said.

More information on the AREVA products Dr. Southworth mentioned can be found here, and here …

Tags: Dr. Finis Southworth, EPR, Evolutionary Power Reactor, Fukushima Daiichi, Gen III, HTR, Next Generation Nuclear Plant, NGNP, NRC, SmartPlanet

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