Babcock & Wilcox

Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: BW) also known as Babcock & Wilcox (B&W), originally The Babcock & Wilcox Company, is an American renewable, environmental and thermal energy technologies and service provider that is active and has operations in many international markets across the globe with its headquarters in Akron, Ohio USA. Historically, the company is best known for their steam boilers.[1]

Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises, Inc.
Russell 2000 Index component
  • Power
  • Industrial
Founded1867 (1867) in Providence, Rhode Island
  • Stephen Wilcox
  • George Herman Babcock
United States
Area served
Key people
  • Kenny Young (CEO)
  • Renewable
  • Environmental
  • Thermal
Revenue US$566 million (2020)
Number of employees
2,100 (2020)


The company was founded in 1867 in Providence, Rhode Island by partners Stephen Wilcox and George Babcock to manufacture and market Wilcox's patented water-tube boiler.[2] B&W's list of innovations and firsts include the world's first installed utility boiler (1881); manufacture of boilers to power New York City's first subway (1902); first pulverized coal power plant (1918); design and manufacture of components for USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered submarine (1953–55); the first supercritical pressure coal-fired boiler (1957); design and supply of reactors for the first U.S. built nuclear-powered surface ship, NS Savannah (1961).[3]

The company provided design, engineering, manufacturing, construction and facilities management services to nuclear, renewable, fossil power, industrial and government customers worldwide. B&W's boilers supply more than 300,000 megawatts of installed capacity in over 90 countries around the world. During World War II, over half of the US Navy fleet was powered by Babcock & Wilcox boilers.

Babcock & Wilcox

The Babcock & Wilcox nuclear steam generator is seen at the company's plant at Barberton, Ohio prior to shipment via the Penn Central Railroad to a Duke Energy site in Oconee, S.C. This generator can convert more than 10,000,000 lb (4,536,000 kg) of water per hour into steam.

Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) is headquartered in Akron, Ohio USA and provides energy and environmental technologies and services for power and industrial markets worldwide. Its three brand segments are named B&W Renewable, B&W Environmental and B&W Thermal. B&W and its subsidiaries have operations throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, in addition to global technology licensees and strategic partnerships.

B&W Renewable: Technologies for renewable power and heat generation, including waste-to-energy, biomass energy and black liquor systems for the pulp and paper industry. Technologies support a circular economy, diverting waste from landfills to use for power generation and replacing fossil fuels, while recovering metals and reducing emissions.

B&W Environmental: Emissions control and environmental technology solutions for utility, waste to energy, biomass, carbon black, and industrial steam generation applications. Includes systems for cooling, ash handling, particulate control, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides removal, chemical looping for carbon control, and mercury control.

B&W Thermal: Steam generation equipment, aftermarket parts, construction, maintenance and field services for plants in the power generation, oil and gas, and industrial sectors. Services global base of installed equipment for utilities and general industrial applications including refining, petrochemical, food processing, metals and others. [4]


The old B&W company logo, showing the world as an Aeolipile.

The company was founded in 1867 by Stephen Wilcox and his partner George Herman Babcock with the intention of building safer steam boilers. Stephen Wilcox first avowed that “there must be a better way” to safely generate power, and he and George Babcock responded with the design for the first inherently safe water-tube boiler. B&W was the main builder of naval boilers for American forces during World War II, and were a supplier to the Manhattan Project. After the war they entered the nuclear reactor business, and became a major supplier for commercial nuclear power plants. They also built naval nuclear reactors, including for the first commercial nuclear ship. In 2000 the company filed for bankruptcy due to lawsuits from employees over asbestos exposure; they emerged from bankruptcy in 2006.

Babcock & Wilcox Co. works, Bayonne, New Jersey, circa 1919
1913 Babcock & Wilcox boiler section
  • In 1867, Providence, Rhode Island, residents Stephen Wilcox and his partner George Herman Babcock patented the Babcock & Wilcox Non-Explosive Boiler, which used water filled tubes and de-nucleate boiling to generate steam more safely than either under-fire or fire-tube boilers. The boilers more safely generated higher pressure steam and was more efficient (as an energy to steam converter) than existing designs.[5]
  • In 1878, Thomas Edison purchased B&W boiler No. 92 for his Menlo Park laboratory. [3]
  • In 1891, Babcock & Wilcox Ltd is established as a separate United Kingdom company, to be responsible for all sales outside the US and Cuba.[6]
  • In 1898, Robert Jurenka and Alois Seidl signed an agreement with the British division of Babcock & Wilcox Ltd to make the Berlin, Germany Babcock sales office into a subsidiary of the British company; a factory in Oberhausen in the Ruhr district made the boiler designed by the American engineers.[7]
  • In 1902, the New York City's first subway is powered by B&W boilers.[8]
  • During 1907 and 1909 Theodore Roosevelt's Great White Fleet were powered by B&W Boilers.
  • In 1923, both Babcock & Wilcox Ltd and The Babcock & Wilcox Company buy into The Goldie & McCulloch Company Ltd of Cambridge, Ontario, to form Babcock-Wilcox & Goldie-McCulloch Ltd in Canada.[9]
  • In 1929 B&W installs the world's first commercial size recovery boiler using the magnesium bisulfite process in Quebec, Canada.[10]
  • Between 1941 and 1945 B&W designed and delivered 4,100 marine boilers for combat and merchant ships, including 95 percent of the US fleet in Tokyo Bay at Japanese surrender.
  • In 1942, the company developed the cyclone furnace.
  • Between 1943 and 1945 B&W provided components, materials and process development for Manhattan Project.[5]
  • Between 1949 and 1952 B&W provided the 8 boilers for the SS United States, the fastest ocean liner ever constructed.
  • Between 1953 and 1955 B&W designed and fabricated components for USS Nautilus (SSN-571), world's first nuclear-powered submarine.
  • In 1961 B&W designed and supplied reactors for world's first commercial nuclear ship NS Savannah.
  • In 1962 B&W designed and furnished reactor systems for B&W's first commercial reactor, Indian Point, using HEU 233.
  • In 1967 the name of Babcock-Wilcox & Goldie-McCulloch Ltd is changed to Babcock & Wilcox Canada Ltd.[9]
  • In 1975 B&W designed and built components for liquid metal fast breeder reactors.
  • In 1975 the long-term business agreements with the British Babcock & Wilcox Ltd were ended. Subsequently, the British company was renamed Babcock International Group plc.
  • In 1978 B&W designed and built the nuclear reactor that was involved in the Three Mile Island accident.
  • In 1999 B&W was awarded the contract to develop fuel cells and steam reforming for US Navy.
  • On February 22, 2000, B&W filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in part as a result of thousands of claims for personal injury due to prolonged exposure to asbestos and asbestos fibers. Claims included asbestosis, lung cancer, pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. As a condition of emerging from bankruptcy, B&W created a trust fund to compensate victims, but for amounts far less than settlements paid in individual personal injury lawsuits.[11]
  • After B&W emerged from bankruptcy in 2006, B&W and BWX Technologies, both subsidiaries of the McDermott International, Inc., merged on 26 November 2007 to form The Babcock & Wilcox Companies, headed by President John Fees. The old company logo was changed.
  • Current logo without the "Babcock & Wilcox" text.
    On June 10, 2009, B&W unveiled B&W Modular Nuclear Energy, LLC (B&W MNE).[12] On the same day, B&W MNE announced its plans to design and develop the B&W mPower reactor, a modular, scalable nuclear reactor. The B&W mPower reactor design is a 125 megawatt, passively safe Advanced Light Water Reactor (ALWR) (a Generation III reactor) with a below-ground containment structure.[13] The reactor is set to be manufactured in a factory, shipped by rail, then buried underground.[14][15]
  • On May 12, 2010, B&W announced that it and its subsidiaries would be spun off from its parent company, McDermott International, Inc.[16] The headquarters moved from Lynchburg, Virginia to Charlotte.[17] and the company became The Babcock & Wilcox Company.
  • On August 2, 2010, B&W began trading on the New York Stock Exchange as BWC.[18]
  • On June 30, 2015, Babcock & Wilcox completed a spinoff from BWX Technologies, its former parent company. The two companies began trading separately on July 1 when Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises, Inc. was listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol: BW.[19]
  • On September 24, 2018, Babcock & Wilcox announced that it would move its corporate headquarters from Charlotte to Akron, Ohio into space formerly occupied by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company prior to its move to a new building nearby.
  • On December 30, 2019, Babcock & Wilcox relocated its corporate headquarters from Barberton, Ohio to Akron, Ohio.

See also

  • Steam generator (boiler)


  1. Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises, Inc. (2021) "2020 Annual Report and 10-K"
  2. "The Babcock & Wilcox Company". Thomson Gale. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  3. Steam/its generation and use, 41st Edition
  4. Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises, Inc. (2021) "2020 Annual Report" Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  5. "About B&W - History". Archived from the original on 1 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  6. "Records of Babcock International Group plc Archived 2012-07-14 at the Wayback Machine." Glasgow University Archive Services
  7. "Deutsche Babcock AG--Company History". Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  8. "Records of Babcock International Group plc, boiler makers and engineers, England". Archived from the original on 2012-12-23. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  9. "History". Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  10. "B&W Power Generation Group: Company History". Archived from the original on 2008-02-06. Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  11. Babcock & Wilcox Bankruptcy Reorganization Bar Date Notice and Claims Process Begins; Includes Apollo and Parks Township, Pennsylvania Nuclear Contamination And Radiation Claims
  12. Babcock & Wilcox plans modular reactor Archived June 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  13. B&W unveils modular nuclear power design
  14. DiSavino, Scott (Jun 10, 2009). "McDermott B&W unit unveils small nuclear reactor". Reuters. Retrieved Jun 10, 2009.
  15. Katherine Ling and GreenWire (June 10, 2009). "Company Calls New Small Nuclear Reactor a 'Game Changer'". New York Times. Retrieved June 10, 2009.
  16. Gentry, B.:, The News & Advance, May 12, 2010
  17. Peralta, Katherine (June 9, 2015). "Babcock & Wilcox approves spinoff, sets split date for July 1". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  18. "The Babcock & Wilcox Company Begins Trading Today on the New York Stock Exchange". BUSINESS WIRE. Aug 2, 2010. Retrieved Aug 4, 2010.
  19. Downey, John (July 1, 2015). "Babcock & Wilcox completes spinoff; two independent companies begin public trading". Charlotte Business Journal. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
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