Faced with energy demand and the aging of their facilities, US electricity companies are considering building new nuclear power plants.
Entergy, Excelon, Dominion and Duke Power have all taken steps with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to obtain the necessary authorizations (the first three having already received approval for the choice of sites). But the last nuclear power plant construction in the United States dates back to 1973 and the country today lacks expertise in the matter.
As a result, manufacturers have not yet made their decision on which technologies to adopt. Among the solutions
considered, we find the AP1000 of the American Westinghouse, based on the Pebble Bed - a small power reactor of 1000 megawatts in which the fuel is conditioned in the form of balls and which uses sodium as coolant. This device has the advantage, according to its designer, of offering better performance and better safety (with a 50% reduction in the number of components). Its European competitor Areva offers a pressurized water reactor EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) with 4 emergency cooling systems instead of the traditional 2. Finally, General Electric is developing a boiling water reactor called the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor where the water from the primary circuit, in direct contact with the core, is brought to the boil in order to produce the steam that powers the turbines. It should be noted that apart from any technological consideration, some specialists doubt that new plants will actually be ordered within 5 years due to
huge investments needed.
NYT 15 / 03 / 05 (Power
producers seeking latest models for nuclear reactors)