Faced with energy demand and the aging of their facilities, US power companies are considering building new nuclear power plants.
Entergy, Excelon, Dominion and Duke Power have all approached the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to obtain the necessary authorizations (the first three having already received the agreement for the choice of sites). But the last nuclear power plant construction in the United States dates back to 1973 and the country lacks expertise in the field today.
As a result, manufacturers have not yet decided on the technologies to adopt. Among the solutions
The American Westinghouse AP1000 is based on the Pebble Bed - a small-scale 1000 megawatt reactor in which the fuel is packaged in beads and uses sodium as the coolant. This device has the advantage, according to its designer, to offer better performance and better security (with a reduction of 50% of the number of components). Its European competitor Areva proposes for its part a pressurized water reactor EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) possessing 4 emergency cooling systems in place of the traditional 2. Finally, General Electric is developing a boiling water reactor called Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor, where water from the primary circuit, in direct contact with the core, is boiled in order to produce the steam that drives the turbines. It should be noted that apart from any technological considerations, some specialists doubt that new plants are actually ordered by 5 years because
huge investments needed.
NYT 15 / 03 / 05 (Power
producers seeking latest models for nuclear reactors)