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Babcock & Wilcox, DOE sign small-reactor funding agreement

Charlotte-based Babcock & Wilcox Co. said a subsidiary and the Department of Energy have signed a funding agreement for development and licensing of the company’s small modular reactor technology.

The program will allocate $79 million in the first year for B&W’s mPower technology. DOE projects that about $150 million will be available over five years, but the agreement allows for $226 million or more in federal funding.

The company’s mPower reactor is designed to generate 180 megawatts of electricity, a fraction of the output of a traditional design.

The design features underground containment, passive safety features and modular construction, making what the industry hopes will be a cost-effective alternative to hugely expensive traditional plants.

DOE selected the team of B&W, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Generation mPower (B&W subsidiary mPower and Bechtel) as winner of competitive funding with a goal of commercial demonstration of the technology by 2022.

B&W mPower and the TVA signed a contract in February to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a permit to build a small modular reactor at TVA’s Clinch River Site. Geological studies of the site will begin in about six weeks, the company said.

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