Westinghouse Electric Company has launched a new design and manufacturing facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to accelerate commercialisation of its eVinci microreactor.A rendering of the eVinci accelerator hub building (Image: Westinghouse)
Located in the borough of Etna, Westinghouse said the eVinci 'accelerator hub' is an 87,000 square-foot (8082 square-metre) facility that will house engineering and licensing operations, testing, prototype trials, business development and sales. It also includes manufacturing space for producing the heat pipes that are central to the eVinci technology, as well as other components. Westinghouse construction on the space began earlier this year and will be completed in early 2024.
Westinghouse received a funding proposal from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) for a USD1,083,250 Pennsylvania First grant to support the site. In addition to the new jobs created by this project, Westinghouse has committed to retaining over 3100 employees at its seven facilities across the state, including its global headquarters.
How the interior of the building could look (Image: Westinghouse)
"We believe the eVinci technology will truly change lives and livelihoods for the better," said Westinghouse President and CEO Patrick Fragman. "Thanks to the support from the US Department of Energy and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we are making big strides to deploy at speed and at scale. We are targeting to have multiple eVinci microreactors in operation throughout the world by the end of this decade, and the work we do here will make that possible."
"Westinghouse built the world's first commercial pressurised water reactor in Southwestern Pennsylvania more than 60 years ago, so it's only fitting that they will continue to develop advanced nuclear technology here," said DCED Secretary Rick Siger. "This unique and innovative project will create high-paying engineering and tech jobs in Pennsylvania while also breathing new life into an old, underutilised industrial building. This is a tremendous win and an example of the enormous opportunity for energy innovation in the Commonwealth."
The eVinci microreactor is described as a "small battery" for decentralised generation markets and for microgrids, such as remote communities, remote industrial mines and critical infrastructure. The nominal 5 MWe heat pipe reactor, which has a heat capability of 14 MWt, features a design that Westinghouse says provides competitive and resilient power as well as superior reliability with minimal maintenance. It is small enough to allow for standard transportation methods, making it perfectly suited for remote locations and rapid, on-site deployment. These features, the company says, make it a viable option for places such as mines and off-grid communities.
The eVinci was selected in late 2020 to receive USD9.3 million of cost-shared funding (USD7.4 million as the US Department of Energy's share) under the ARDP to advance the design of the heat pipe-cooled microreactor.
In June, Westinghouse established eVinci Technologies LLC as a separate business unit within the company to streamline all aspects of bringing the microreactor to the market.
Westinghouse is one of three companies recently selected to be awarded US Department of Energy funding totalling USD3.9 million for front-end engineering and experiment design of their respective microreactor designs in a new test bed facility at Idaho National Laboratory.
Researched and written by World Nuclear News