Wednesday, March 24, 2010

US Dept of Energy saves pebble bed reactor project

South Africa Pebble Bed Modular Reactor

South Africa's Pebble Bed Modular Reactor company has been thrown a $10-million lifeline by the US Department of Energy only a week before its government funding runs out.

But it will not be enough to prevent the retrenchment of three-quarters of the PBMR's 800 staff and the reduction of its executive team from 11 to three. CEO Jaco Kriek resigned earlier this month and other executives are expected to follow.

Minority investor Westinghouse is said to be mulling a further investment.

PBMR has already suspended development of the triple reheat Brayton cycle helium turbine that would achieve the high thermal/electrical power conversion efficiency. Many had hoped this research would be transferable to other high temperature gas cooled reactor projects.