Saturday, August 10, 2013


Future of nuclear technology developed in Lynchburg area

LYNCHBURG, VA -"What mPower can really do to the nuclear industry has been really exciting," said Jeff Halfinger, the Babcock and Wilcox Technology Development Vice President. 

Exciting enough the Department of Energy put $79-million into the mPower development process and could give them up to $226 million or more in federal funding.

"It means there's a lot of risk, a lot of pressure to perform to make sure the design comes together that we get through the licensing process without any difficulty and then the real hard work begins and detailed design and manufacturing of the components," said Halfinger.

Researching and manufacturing is what they're working on at the Fuel Technology Center in Lynchburg. Employees and robots are part of the process.

One fuel pellet made of uranium is smaller than a thimble. Its then put into a rod with several other pellets and then placed into a larger grid making up just one piece of the mPower puzzle.

"We have started the mPower program back four years ago with just a handful of folks and we grown now.  The compliment of people here in Lynchburg working on the design of this plant over 200 people," said Doug Lee, the mPower development and testing manager who oversees the test nuclear power plant in Forest.

The test plant operates electricity not nuclear energy.

Halfinger says since April of 2012, B&W has put $3-million in the Roanoke - Lynchburg community using more than forty local subcontractors.

"It's very exciting. Every day is an adventure by having folks that are very competent, highly skilled, by having a facility that's really fun to operate, we are learning every day and that's what it's all about," said Lee.

The goal is to get the first mPower module installed in Tennessee 2022.

Babcock and Wilcox has invested more than $300-million over the past five years developing this new technology and say they have to match every dollar the Department of Energy gives them.

One mPower module will be able to power a city up to 200,000 people. Halfinger estimates the initial equipment and installation cost to be about $1 billion dollars.

Roanoke/Lynchburg Va
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