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Supercritical-Water-Cooled Reactor (SCWR)

 

The Supercritical-Water-Cooled Reactor (SCWR) system is a high-temperature, high-pressure water cooled reactor that operates above the thermodynamic critical point of water (374°C, 22 MPa, or 705°F, 3208 psia)

SCWRs are built upon two proven technologies: Light Water Reactors (LWRs), which are the most commonly deployed power-generating reactors in the world, and supercritical fossil-fired boilers, a large number of which are also in use around the world.

SCWRs are promising advanced nuclear systems because of their high thermal efficiency (i.e., about 45% versus about 33% efficiency for current LWRs) and considerable plant simplification. Operation above the critical pressure eliminates coolant boiling, so the coolant remains single-phase throughout the system. Thus, the need for recirculation and jet pumps, pressurizers, steam generators, and steam separators and dryers in current LWRs is eliminated.

The SCWR system is primarily designed for efficient electricity production, with an option for actinide management based on two options in the core design: the first option is an SCWR with a thermal or fast-spectrum reactor; the second option is a closed cycle with a fast-spectrum reactor and full actinide recycle based on advanced aqueous processing at a central location.

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DOE Office of Nuclear Energy
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