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Friday, March 12, 2010

EB to have a hand in development of future U.S. nuclear power plants: Groton submarine builder tapped for its expertise in design, engineering work


Mar, 12, 2010 10:30 AM - Day, The (New London, CT)

Mar. 12--GROTON -- Electric Boat is part of a team that will propose a design for the next generation of U.S. nuclear power plants.

Building new nuclear reactors that can provide a source of clean energy is a key element in President Barack Obama's climate-change strategy.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced earlier this week that General Atomics in San Diego and Westinghouse Electric Co. in Pittsburgh would each be awarded $20 million for conceptual designs and planning for a smaller nuclear power plant capable of producing electricity and processing heat for industrial applications.

The results will help the Obama administration decide whether to proceed with the effort and build a demonstration plant.

EB has a tentative agreement with General Atomics to provide its expertise in modular design and manufacturing for the proposal.

"This is a relatively small effort that could involve a limited number of EB engineers and designers through this summer, whose task would be to ensure that any design is produceable and affordable," EB spokesman Robert Hamilton said in a statement. "We continue to look at commercial nuclear power as an adjacent market that might present some opportunity to the highly-skilled design and manufacturing work force resident at Electric Boat."

EB President John P. Casey has said in the past that he would look at nonmilitary endeavors as options for future work, including what role the company could play in the growing nuclear power industry.

About 16 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial-process heat applications. Steam from nuclear reactors could help reduce those emissions.

"This investment reflects President Obama's commitment to building the next generation of nuclear reactors that will create thousands of jobs and supply the clean energy to power our economy," Chu said in a statement. "It's time for America to recapture the lead in the nuclear energy industry and lay the foundation for a stronger, cleaner and more competitive economic future."

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said it was exciting to see that "Connecticut could be part of our country's energy solutions." He added that it was important to develop an energy system that is carbon-free and not dependent on foreign oil, to "help solve a lot of America's energy problems."

The conceptual designs are expected to be complete by Aug. 31.



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