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The Tennessee Valley Authority completed important testing on its new Watts Bar Unit 2 nuclear reactor and systems. The successful tests demonstrated the unit performed as designed.
The latest round of tests, called hot functional testing, marks the first time nearly 60 important systems operated together. Over a period of eight weeks, operators used the heat generated by plant equipment to increase the temperature and pressure of systems to normal operating levels. The unit’s main turbine was also rolled up to normal operating speed using the plant’s steam.
“Successful completion of these tests demonstrates the key operational readiness of Watts Bar Unit 2 in preparation to load fuel,” said Mike Skaggs, senior vice president for Watts Bar Operations and Construction. “Good work by our team has brought us to where we are today as we validate the unit’s ability to operate safely and the station’s readiness for dual-unit operation.”
Hot functional testing is a critical pre-operational requirement leading up to TVA requesting an operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. That license is required before fuel can be loaded into the reactor.
The data gathered from the most recent testing builds on information documented from earlier testing milestones — open vessel testing, cold hydrostatic testing and secondary hydrostatic testing — and further ensures that Watts Bar Unit 2 systems will support safe operation as designed and according to established NRC regulations.
TVA will next conduct additional testing focusing on the integrity of primary containment and important safety-related equipment, such as emergency diesel generators.
Located near Spring City, Tenn., Watts Bar Unit 2 is about 99 percent complete and remains on target to become the first new nuclear generation of the 21st century. When online, it will produce 1,150 MW of carbon-free electricity. Combined with the output of the operational Unit 1, the Watts Bar plant will then meet the power needs of 1.3 million homes.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.