Fluor has been granted a patent for a power module assembly that includes a reactor vessel, a containment vessel immersed in a cooling pool, inlets to draw emergency feedwater from the pool, outlets to vent the feedwater back into the pool, and a heat exchanger to remove heat from the primary coolant by circulating the feedwater through it via natural circulation. GlobalData’s report on Fluor gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Fluor, Combined cycle power plants was a key innovation area identified from patents. Fluor's grant share as of September 2023 was 59%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Patent granted for a power module assembly with natural circulation

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Fluor Corp

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11756698B2) describes a power module assembly and an emergency feedwater system for a nuclear reactor vessel. The power module assembly includes a reactor vessel containing a primary coolant, a containment vessel surrounding the reactor vessel, and a heat exchanger. The containment vessel is immersed in a containment cooling pool, and the heat exchanger is coupled between inlets and outlets. The heat exchanger removes heat from the primary coolant by circulating emergency feedwater, via natural circulation, from the containment cooling pool through the heat exchanger and back to the containment cooling pool, without mixing with the primary coolant. The inlets are submerged in the containment cooling pool and are coupled to the heat exchanger via submerged conduits.

The emergency feedwater system includes a heat exchanger that circulates a secondary coolant through the reactor vessel to remove heat from the primary coolant. The reactor vessel is positioned within a containment vessel, and a secondary cooling system circulates emergency feedwater, via natural circulation, from a containment cooling pool through the heat exchanger during a loss of power event. The system ensures that there is no intermixing of the primary coolant with the secondary coolant or the emergency feedwater. An inlet, submerged in the containment cooling pool, is coupled to the heat exchanger via a submerged conduit. The containment vessel encapsulates the nuclear reactor vessel and forms a dry containment region around it, preventing the release of the primary coolant into the containment cooling pool.

This patent provides a solution for effectively removing heat from a nuclear reactor vessel during a loss of power event. By utilizing natural circulation of emergency feedwater, the system avoids the need for pumps to circulate the feedwater from the containment cooling pool. The containment vessel ensures the safety and containment of the primary coolant, preventing any potential release into the cooling pool. The design of the power module assembly and the emergency feedwater system allows for efficient heat removal without mixing the primary coolant with the emergency feedwater or the secondary coolant. Overall, this patent presents an innovative approach to emergency cooling systems for nuclear reactors, enhancing safety and reliability in the event of a power loss.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.