NuScale Hand Delivers 12,000-Page SMR Application To NRC

Next generation nuclear power plant developer NuScale has requested a regulatory review of its small modular reactor (SMR) design for commercial application, submitting its nearly 12,000-pages of SMR plans to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the company announced Thursday.

NuScale designNuScale called the step an historic event for the industry. “This is the first-ever SMR DCA to be submitted to the NRC and marks a significant milestone for NuScale and the power generation industry,” a company statement says. The company predicted the design would create “affordable, clean, reliable power in scalable plants whose facility output can be incrementally increased depending on demand.”

Unlike conventional reactors, which are relative behemoths in terms of size, power and cost, it is envisioned that a SMR facility would consist of small reactors made in a factory setting. If more power is needed for a particular location, the customer can order and install an additional SMR to increase output. The International Atomic Energy Agency defines a SMR as a design that produces up to 300 MWe and are “shipped for installation as demand arises.”

In addition to lower costs and shorter concept to commercialization, SMR designs can incorporate passive safety features in ways that large plants cannot. NuScale's 50 MWe (gross) SMR is designed to shut down and self-cool indefinitely with no operator action or AC or DC power available to keep conventional cooling systems working. Their design features include reactors using approximately 5 percent of the nuclear fuel of a conventional 1,000 MWe reactor. According to the company's website, “Containment vessels will be submerged in an ultimate heat sink for core cooling in a below grade reactor pool structure housed in a Seismic Category 1 reactor building.”

NuScale said its application's timeline included two months in which the NRC can request additional information for the review. After that, the NRC has targeted completing the certification process within 40 months, which would put an expectation of approval in July 2020.

To date, it has taken NuScale over eight years employing the manpower of more than 800 people to get the project to this point, said NuScale Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nuclear Officer Dale Atkinson. “We have documented in extensive detail the design conceived by Dr. Jose Reyes more than a decade ago,” Atkinson said. “We are confident that we have submitted a comprehensive and quality application, and we look forward to working with the NRC during its review.”

The application was delivered January 12th, 2017 at NRC headquarters in the Washington suburbs by NuScale chief Executive Officer John Hopkins, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Jose Reyes, CNO Atkinson and vice president of regulatory affairs Tom Bergman. The team hand delivered the application, which was submitted on DVDs, the company said.

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