South Africa-based PBMR (Pty) Ltd. ( will get the core structure ceramics for its Pebble Bed Modular Reactor from SGL Carbon Group ( Germany.

The Demonstration Power Plant (DPP) project is slated to start construction in 2007 (see Nuclear's new age, MACHINE DESIGN, September 27, 2001). The SGL Carbon contract paves the way for procurement of long-lead items associated with the reactor. It will include the machining of PBMR graphite feedstock and shaping and supporting the reactor's pebble bed core.

The reactor pressure vessel will house the core barrel assembly, a metallic cylinder, which consists of an internal graphite boundary or core structure ceramics. Graphite is a key functional component of the PBMR and is a central part of the passive-decay-heat-removal path. Passive heat removal is a major reason why PBMRs are a globally accepted safe Generation IV design (i.e., PBMR cores cannot "melt").

"This is a significant moment in the progress of the PBMR," says DPP Project Director Brent Hegger. "It's the largest contract placed to date. It ranks as one of the first contracts for the procurement of the PBMR hardware and is a sure sign of PBMR (Pty) Ltd.'s commitment to build the demo plant once all legal and administrative aspects have been completed."

On the decision of the Cape High Court, PBMR (Pty) Ltd. has also reopened its public participation process for environmental impact assessment.