Westinghouse Electric Co. is developing the eVinci™ Micro-Reactor to provide grid resiliency for strategic infrastructure, deliver power for remote applications and support growing space fission power needs. At the heart of the reactor technology are alkali metal heat pipes. Alkali metal heat pipes replace the complex primary coolant systems necessary for other high temperature reactor designs with a safe, simple system that has no moving parts. The heat pipe reactor relies on alkali metal phase change resulting in superior temperature uniformity within the reactor core and elimination of the need for a pressurized primary system containment vessel. An array of closed heat pipes provides redundancy of the primary heat removal path and enables a modular core design that supports reduced scale testing.
Westinghouse has commissioned a dedicated facility aimed at developing heat pipe technology for commercial nuclear applications. The efforts build upon the success of the KRUSTY nuclear demonstration and solves some of the challenges associated with commercial micro-reactors that require use of low enriched uranium (LEU). Westinghouse has completed first of a kind demonstration testing of high-performance alkali metal heat pipes using Iron, Chromium, Aluminum (FeCrAl) alloys. This technology enables a LEU micro-reactor core in addition to an open-air Brayton thermodynamic power conversion cycle.