The apparent winner of the second phase of a $452-million U.S. Dept. of Energy grant program to support the development and commercialization of small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) technology in the U.S. is NuScale Power, a Portland, Ore.-based firm whose majority owner is Fluor Corp.

DOE announced on Dec. 12 that it would award a yet-to-be-negotiated amount—up to $226 million—to NuScale to cover up to half the costs of a new Oregon-based project to design, certify and help commercialize small nuclear reactors.

The grant will come out of a total $452-million fund set aside for DOE's SMR licensing program.

The first phase, announced in November 2012, went to a joint venture of Babcock & Wilcox and Bechtel.

DOE will contribute up to $150 million for the joint-venture project with the Tennessee Valley Authority, says Darren Gale, vice president and program director of Babcock & Wilcox's mPower America.

NuScale hopes to have the first module operational within about 10 years, ccording to Michael McGough, its chief commercial officer.

NuScale's SMR design is unique, McGough says. Each cylindrical vessel, 82 ft long and 15 ft in dia, contains all the elements needed to generate up to 45 MW of electricity.

The company says that cylinders can be grouped together in a 10-million-gallon pool of water to generate up to 540 MW.

Because the units are self-contained and placed in the large water tank, the plant would be protected in the case of a station blackout, such as the one that occurred at the Fukushima powerplant in Japan, McGough adds.

Gale says the TVA project is "on target" in terms of its design certification application, and the power company hopes to start building by 2018.