Reports in the Japanese press yesterday suggest that US and Japanese companies plan to develop cheaper and safer next-generation nuclear reactors in two separate international collaborations.

Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and General Electric Co. will develop a 1700 MW advanced boiling water reactor by 2015, said Hitachi spokesman Keiisaku Shibatani. Although no further information on the project was available, Toshiba spokesman Keniichi Sugiyama confirmed the alliance.

Separately, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Westinghouse Electric Co. of the United States are working on a 1000 MW pressurized light-water reactor they hope to develop by 2030, an anonymous Mitsubishi spokeswoman was reported as saying.

The new reactors will be able to produce more electricity than current power plants, enabling power companies to recover plant-construction expenses faster, the Nihon Keizai newspaper said Monday. They will also be monitored and operated by state-of-the-art computers to make them safer, the paper said.

No information was available from the companies involved in the two projects on how they plan to make the plants cheaper and safer.

Development of new nuclear facilities received a boost last month with the announcement by US President George W. Bush that his country will consider resuming building nuclear power plants after a 20-year moratorium. A Mitsubishi spokeswoman said that her company hoped to expand its nuclear business in the US.

Most US nuclear power plants employ pressurized light water reactors, the spokeswoman said. Mitsubishi licensed technology from Westinghouse in 1961 and is the only Japanese company to build pressurized light water reactors, she added.