President, Westinghouse Electric Canada
The new eVinci™ microreactor is delivering the next generation of nuclear reactor technology for decentralized energy applications.
Nuclear power is gaining momentum worldwide as countries — including Canada, a major player — look to fight climate change and achieve energy sovereignty. Still, until recently, nuclear power plants have been capital-intensive, while also requiring large operations and maintenance staff. Fortunately, a new generation of nuclear reactor technology is changing the game, and Westinghouse Electric Company — a global supplier of safe, innovative nuclear technology — is leading the way in Canada.
Westinghouse is currently developing the eVinci™ microreactor, a next-generation, very small modular reactor for decentralized remote applications that creates cost-competitive and resilient power with superior reliability and requires minimal maintenance.
An innovative new reactor
“Traditionally, Westinghouse has been focused on larger commercial nuclear system designs, but our engineers saw a need for small reactors for decentralized applications, for example, industrial mines and remote communities across northern Canada,” says Eddie Saab, President of Westinghouse Electric Canada. Westinghouse’s engineers went on a journey to create a competitive, safe, resilient, and low-maintenance power source for consumers in remote locations. The result is the in-development eVinci™ microreactor.
The eVinci™ microreactor’s innovative design is a combination of space reactor technologies and over 50 years of commercial nuclear systems design, engineering, and innovation.
“The driver for its small size was to allow for standard transportation methods and rapid on-site deployment in contrast to large, centralized stations,” says Saab. Contributing to low operations costs, refuelling is only needed every eight years. Further, the decommissioning process at the end of the reactor’s lifecycle will be simple, as the footprint of the eVinci™ microreactor site is less than half a hockey rink, notes Saab.
Working toward net zero
“The key benefits of the eVinci™ microreactor are attributed to its compact solid core and advanced heat pipes,” says Saab. The heat pipes enable passive core heat extraction, allowing autonomous operation and inherent load following capabilities. “This makes the eVinci™ microreactor essentially a nuclear battery with minimal moving parts, which enables a lot of unique applications that we’re very excited about,” adds Saab.
The eVinci™ microreactor is an emissions-free energy source that can help Canada achieve its goal of being net zero by 2050, in combination with renewables like wind, solar, and hydro. “The eVinci™ microreactor is truly environmentally friendly,” says Saab. “Its characteristics of delivering combined heat and power — five megawatts of electricity, which is equivalent to about 13 thermal megawatts — without burning fossil fuels and without the need for external water sources will contribute to that 2050 goal. For context, five megawatts is enough electricity to power more than 3,000 homes.”
Employing top Canadian talent
Westinghouse’s innovative eVinci™ microreactor has the potential to transform how we utilize nuclear energy and to help us achieve our ambitious climate change goals, and it’s also helping communities to grow. Beyond this, it’s keeping Canadian talent employed and working on next-level tech. Tied to an investment of about $27 million that Westinghouse received from the Government of Canada Strategic Innovation Fund, the company is committed to further job creation and expanded recruitment from local universities. “We’re ramping up on co-ops, working with Canadian talent, and working with local universities,” says Saab. The future is bright.