by Bryan Gentry
A key piece of the Lynchburg region’s economic future is coming together in rural Bedford County.
The Center for Advanced Engineering and Research is under construction at the New London Business and Technology Center, a business park off of U.S. 460. Regional leaders hope the research campus will help find solutions for the nuclear energy and wireless communications industries, particularly local companies.
In 2008 the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission awarded CAER $7.5 million to build a facility at the Bedford County business park. Bob Bailey, executive director, says the center should open early next year.
The research campus will have two major components designed for the nuclear industry. A control-room simulator will let nuclear plant designers test their control-room designs and show regulators how digital controls effectively will run a power plant. The Babcock & Wilcox Co. also will have a working prototype of its new mPower nuclear plant design. The prototype will help test the reactor and show how it will work.
B&W hopes to be building mPower plants within five years, at which point the prototype would be used to train people to operate the reactor.
The Tobacco Commission added another $2.4 million to support the B&W testing facility at CAER, and the company is investing $7.6 million in it upfront.
CAER also will have labs and facilities to help with wireless research, Bailey says.
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