APR: your source for nuclear news and analysis since April 16, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Our newest nuclear power plant

The United States has completed the latest of a very long line of almost totally successful* nuclear power plants; that aboard the USS New Mexico, which commissioned in March of this year. The New Mexico, SSN-779, is powered by a General Electric S9G reactor; the stated shaft horsepower for this plant is 40,000 SHP.

The history of both Westinghouse and General Electric as regards the US Navy's Nuclear Power Program is absolutely one of the most fabulous episodes in all of the history of atomic energy and should be told completely some day. (Combustion Engineering was responsible for exactly one plant design and although Allis-Chalmers tried a very early concept under contract, it was dropped.) Yes, there is some good nuclear news to report.

*-- The S1G/S2G plants that were sodium cooled, beryllium moderated were not successful; the S2G plant on board SSN-575 was replaced with an S2Wa pressurized water plant.

The Soviets didn't get the hint and spent billions of rubles on lead-bismuth cooled plants (and a pier-side steam plant) for the Alfa class-- an expensive blunder they'd probably rather forget.

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