Universities to research small reactors

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Two Missouri universities will be conducting nuclear energy-related research in a consortium founded by Westinghouse Electric Co. and Ameren Missouri.

The Small Modular Reactor Research and Education Consortium will be led by the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, with a satellite center at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Modular reactors are smaller than large nuclear plants and could be built in factories and shipped where they are needed.

Westinghouse and Ameren announced a partnership last year to seek funds from the U.S. Department of Energy to support the engineering, design certification and operating licensure of small modular nuclear reactors. Ameren was to become the nation’s first power company to apply for a construction and operating license from federal regulators for a small reactor developed by Westinghouse. The companies lost out in an initial round but are pursuing funds through a later phase.

The research and education consortium initially will focus on areas such as establishing computer-aided engineering tools to evaluate small modular reactor design and operation, assisting regulators in developing licensing and supporting the development of materials.

“The consortium as a whole will work together on projects that are specific to each company,” said Joseph Smith, who is the chair of energy at the university in Rolla and will be the executive director of the consortium. He said several companies could become members.

The nonprofit Missouri Technology Corp. has provided a $250,000 grant that will be used to establish and grow the group and initially to provide a 50 percent match for membership fees.

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