NRC Accepts NuScale Small Modular Reactor Design Certification Application

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has accepted NuScale Power’s small modular reactor (SMR) design certification application and will provide a design review schedule soon.

The NRC’s acceptance marks a major milestone for the first SMR design to ever attempt obtaining U.S. certification. NuScale, in which Fluor Corp. is a majority investor, submitted its application on January 12.

The certification process can take several years. The NRC set a 40-month target for completion, NuScale said. During that time, the NRC studies the reactor design to determine if it meets U.S. safety requirements. If a certification is issued, it is valid for 15 years and companies can reference the certified design when applying for combined licenses.

“This is a great next step for a new American nuclear technology and a step we see as affirming NuScale as a true leader in SMR technology development,” NuScale CEO John Hopkins said. “The uncommon fact that the NRC was able to accept our application during the 60-day docketing review period is validation of all of our hard work over the past eight years.”

SMRs attempt to meet NRC safety requirements through smaller reactor cores and passive safety features. The reactor building for the NuScale design holds 12 co-located pressurized water reactor modules, each with a capacity of 50 MW. Fluor said one of the design benefits is that the plants are scalable. The technology’s operational flexibility can also be integrated with other carbon-free energy sources, such as wind and solar, to provide consistent power and to help stabilize the grid.

The first commercial NuScale power plant is planned for construction on the site of the Idaho National Laboratory for the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS). Energy Northwest—owner and operator of the Columbia nuclear facility located near Richland, Wash.—holds first right of offer to operate the project. (For more details on the project see: “Is There a Market for Small Modular Reactors?”)

“We believe that the future of the U.S. new-build power generation industry includes NuScale’s small modular reactor technology and that NuScale is uniquely positioned as the only U.S. company leading the way,” said David Seaton, Fluor’s chairman and CEO.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)