Feds approve NuScale small reactor design
Major milestone on path to carbon-free SMR nuclear power Metal Tech News – September 2, 2020
Last updated 9/9/2020 at 5:12am
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission completed the final review phase of the design for Nuscale Power's groundbreaking small modular reactor.
This is a major milestone that provides customers with the surety that the safety aspects of the NuScale small modular reactor design has been approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which allows them to move forward with plans to develop these small nuclear plants.
"This is a significant milestone not only for NuScale, but also for the entire U.S. nuclear sector and the other advanced nuclear technologies that will follow," said Nuscale Power Chairman and CEO John Hopkins. "This clearly establishes the leadership of NuScale and the U.S. in the race to bring SMRs to market."
NuScale's revolutionary small modular reactor (SMR) design features a fully factory-fabricated power module capable of generating 60 megawatts of electricity using a safer, smaller, and scalable version of pressurized water reactor technology. These power modules can be built at a manufacturing facility and delivered to the power plant location, which lowers manufacturing costs while providing a controlled environment for construction.
A power generating facility can house up to 12 individual power modules, or up to 720 MW of electrical generating capacity. This offers the benefits of carbon-free energy while reducing the financial commitments associated with traditional gigawatt-sized nuclear facilities.
The appeal of these small modular reactors has been growing due to their ability to meet the need for flexible power generation needs for a wider range of users and applications.
NuScale's SMRs are based on well-established nuclear technology principles with a focus on integration of components, simplification or elimination of systems, and use of passive safety features.
The company said these features culminate in a highly reliable nuclear power plant that is underpinned by an extremely strong safety case, making it suitable to be located closer to where electricity or process heat are needed.
"The approval of NuScale's design is an incredible accomplishment and we would like to extend our deepest thanks to the NRC for their comprehensive review, to the U.S. Department of Energy for its continued commitment to our successful private-public partnership to bring the country's first SMR to market, and to the many other individuals who have dedicated countless hours to make this extraordinary moment a reality," said Hopkins.
NuScale invested more than $500 million and over 2 million labor hours to develop the information needed to ready its SMR design certificate application for approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Submitted for approvals early in 2017, it took just over three years to get through the comprehensive six-phase review process, a relatively short period that demonstrates the thoroughness and simplicity of the design.
"The NRC embraced the challenge of reviewing the first-ever small modular reactor DCA (design certification application), which at the time not only marked an important milestone for NuScale, but also for the nuclear industry as a whole. NuScale appreciates the dedication, time, and effort of the NRC throughout this multi-year process, often with reviews completing ahead of schedule," said NuScale Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Tom Bergman. "As a long-time former NRC employee, including as an executive in the Office of New Reactors, I can say that this early issuance of the FSER (Final Safety Evaluation Report) is truly a credit to everyone at the NRC-including technical review and project staff, management, and the Commission."
With the federal approval of its design, NuScale is carrying its momentum toward commercialization of its SMR technology.
The company says there is growing domestic and international customer interest from those who see the Nuscale Power plant as a long-term solution for providing reliable, safe, affordable, and operationally flexible carbon-free energy for diverse applications.
NuScale has signed agreements with entities in the U.S., Canada, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Jordan. Similar agreements with other entities are being negotiated.