The NuScale project for small modular reactors has seen a $30 million investment from construction giant Fluor. The money has effectively rescued the company after it was paralysed by a fraud case concerning a shareholder.
The man found guilty was Francesco Illarramendi, head of the Michael Kenwood Group of hedge funds. He routed investors' money through accounts he controlled for personal gain, which came to the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and resulted in his conviction in February this year. Illarramendi had to pay back some $53 million of his "ill-gotten gains," with significant knock-on effects for NuScale's balance sheet.
Fluor stepped in yesterday, buying certain shares that had been in SEC receivership as part of a $30 million investment. The firm will also have an exclusive right to take on engineering and construction work for any future NuScale facilities.
|How a NuScale plant could look
NuScale is developing a 45 MWe self-contained pressurized water reactor and generator set, which would be factory made and shipped for deployment in sets of up to 12. These could result in scalable nuclear power plants with capacities from 45 MWe to 540 MWe.
The reactor unit uses conventional nuclear fuel assemblies of under 5% uranium-235, which would require replacement only after about two years. The core would be cooled by natural circulation, requiring fewer components and safety systems.
A company statment said: "With the help of Fluor, NuScale expects to bring its technology to the market in a timely manner." CEO Paul Lorenzini added that the company was now in "a stronger position than ever."
As well as a history of nuclear project engineering, Fluor also manages and operates the US Department of Energy's Savannah River facility. In separate small-reactor initiatives, this site has already been lined up as the first place for trial of the Hyperion small reactor design, while the idea of building a prototype GE-Hitachi Prism reactor is being explored.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News