The First US Small Modular Reactor Project Has Passed Certification
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission published a directive prescribing the issue of a safety certificate for the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) project developed by NuScale company. The regulator thereby has completed a more than five-year process of certification allowing NuScale to begin the SMR construction in the United States.

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The NuScale development is a light water reactor that will use ordinary water for neutron collection. The reactor core and the steam generators will be located in the main building to be equipped with a steel cylindrical containment shell. The containment module will be immersed in the water of the pool, which will become an ultimate heat sink for the reactor. In this case, the basin part of the reactor building will be located below the ground level. The NPP building is designed for 12 SMRs, each having a thermal capacity of 160 MW and an electrical capacity of 50 MW.

The key advantage of SMRs should be low infrastructure costs: after modular reactors have been assembled at a manufacturing plant, they will be delivered ready-made to the place of their future use. As a result, the unit construction costs for NPP, which are currently $5,000 per kW of power in the United States, are supposed to approach the costs of offshore wind turbines ($4,040 per kW), as well as coal-fired ($2,100 per kW) and gas-fired ($1,000 per kW, according to the International Energy Agency) power plants.

Another advantage should be possibility to generate electricity and heat. “In terms of low-carbon energy sources, nuclear energy is the only one able to produce electricity and heat. Remember that we need heat for heating and cooling. Heat is also used in a lot of industrial processes. Therefore, it is very important to have an access to both heat and electricity. This is a great opportunity provided by small modular reactors,” says Sama Bilbao y Leon, Director General of the World Nuclear Association, in an interview with Sergey Brilev, the President of the Global Energy Association.

The first site where NuScale technology would be applied is the Idaho National Laboratory, where 6 SMRs with a total capacity of 300 MW are to be built. The company also intends to build a small NPP 90 km from Bucharest, Romania.


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August 2022