The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the rising demand for electricity, shift away from fossil fuel-powered generation and the need for reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and growing importance of technologies such as heat exchangers and cooling systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 439,000 patents filed and granted in the power industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Renewable Energy in Power: Nuclear reactor cooling systems.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 83,000 patents to analyse innovation intensity for the power industry, there are 90+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Nuclear reactor cooling systems is a key innovation area in renewable energy

Most reactor systems employ a cooling system that is physically separated from the water that will be boiled to produce pressurised steam for the turbines, like the pressurised water reactor. However, in some reactors the water for the steam turbines is boiled directly by the reactor core, for example the boiling water reactor. 

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of nuclear reactor cooling systems.

Key players in nuclear reactor cooling systems – a disruptive innovation in the power industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to nuclear reactor cooling systems

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
China General Nuclear Power 186 Unlock company profile
Brookfield Asset Management 124 Unlock company profile
General Electric 91 Unlock company profile
Korea Electric Power 90 Unlock company profile
Hitachi 70 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 65 Unlock company profile
Electricite de France 51 Unlock company profile
Joint Stock Company Atomkomplekt 47 Unlock company profile
Fluor 44 Unlock company profile
BWX Technologies 38 Unlock company profile
CEA 36 Unlock company profile
State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom 32 Unlock company profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings 31 Unlock company profile
Holtec International 30 Unlock company profile
Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Energy 27 Unlock company profile
Flowserve 16 Unlock company profile
King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy 11 Unlock company profile
CEZ 8 Unlock company profile
China National Nuclear 6 Unlock company profile
Fujikura 6 Unlock company profile
Societe Technique pour l’Energie Atomique 5 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

BWX Technologies (BWXT) is one of the key patent filers for nuclear reactor cooling systems, and a speciality manufacturer of nuclear components. It designs, engineers, and manufactures precision naval nuclear components, reactors, and nuclear fuel components. BWXT has a wide range of SPIG cooling systems product lines and supplies an extensive range of turnkey cooling systems globally. 

Hitachi is another key patent filer for nuclear reactor cooling systems, which offers advanced reactors, reactor components and nuclear service. Hitachi collaborated with General Electric and formed Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, with experience in the nuclear energy business, and is working within that field, while promoting highly reliable manufacturing and services practices. Hitachi’s contribution to Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy includes Nuclear Reactor Cooling (High-Pressure Alternate Cooling System), Corium Shield, Plate-type Heat Exchanger, and Corium Buffer. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Power.


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

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. 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.