Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe yesterday announced C$80 million (about $59 million) for the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) to pursue demonstration of Westinghouse Electric Company’s eVinci microreactor technology.
The provincial funding, according to Moe, will be used to support licensing and other work for the project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2029, subject to licensing and regulatory processes. The location of the eVinci unit is to be determined as the project progresses.
Background: In May 2022—following the Canadian government’s March announcement of a C$27.2 million (about $20 million) investment to support eVinci development—Westinghouse and the SRC, Canada’s second largest research and technology organization, signed a memorandum of understanding to locate an eVinci unit in Saskatchewan for the development and testing of industrial, research, and energy use applications. (The SRC operated a SLOWPOKE-2 research reactor for 38 years before decommissioning the unit in 2021.)
In September of last year, Westinghouse signed a service agreement with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to initiate a vendor design review (VDR)—a prelicensing technical assessment of a company’s reactor technology.
The first set of VDR documents were submitted to the CNSC in June of this year. The submissions, Westinghouse said, would enable early identification and resolution of potential regulatory and technical issues as the eVinci technology advances through the design process.
Official words: “This project has the opportunity to be transformative for our economy, industry, and communities,” declared Moe. “Microreactors provide a custom solution for Saskatchewan’s unique energy needs.”
SRC president and chief executive officer Mike Crabtree said his organization’s vision “is to see the first eVinci microreactor in an industrial application and lay the groundwork for many more projects in the future.”
Patrick Fragman, president and CEO of Westinghouse, called his firm’s microreactor technology “the perfect fit for Saskatchewan since it is fully transportable,” noting that it “provides carbon-free electricity and heat, uses no water, and can be completely removed from site after operating continuously for eight years or more.”
The tech: The eVinci microreactor features a solid core with heat pipes for passive core heat extraction, allowing autonomous operation and inherent load following capabilities, according to Westinghouse. The reactor is capable of producing 5 MWe and up to 13 MWt, from a core designed to run for eight or more years before refueling. The unit is small enough for factory fabrication and truck transportation, and construction and installation can take as little as 30 days. The reactor is designed to support various applications, including remote mining operations, power supply for remote communities, individual industrial heat and power scenarios, distributed hydrogen generation, and integrated energy solutions.