Small Modular Reactor Project Advances in Canada

A Maryland-based company and its Canadian subsidiary have joined with a Canada utility in a project to develop, license, and build an advanced small modular reactor (SMR).

Advanced Reactor Concepts of Chevy Chase, Maryland, along with ARC Nuclear Canada—operating collectively as ARC Nuclear (ARC)—and New Brunswick Power (NB Power) on July 9 said their SMR would be based on ARC Nuclear’s mature Generation IV sodium-cooled fast reactor technology.

ARC said it will collaborate with NB Power to explore possible future deployment of the ARC-100 at NB Power’s Point Lepreau nuclear plant site. The companies also will look at deployment at other sites in Canada and worldwide. Point Lepreau has a single, 660-MW CANDU-6 pressurized heavy water reactor that was commissioned in 1983.

The ARC-100 is a 100-MWe sodium-cooled, fast flux, pool-type reactor with metallic fuel that builds upon the operation of the EBR-II reactor in Idaho, which was operated from 1961 to 1994 by Argonne National Laboratory. The companies said the larger objective of their current project is to establish Canada’s New Brunswick Province as a manufacturing hub for advanced SMR products based on the ARC-100 technology.

“We are pleased to announce the participation of ARC, a company with significant experience and ability to make advancements in this bourgeoning sector,” said David Campbell, chair of the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation. “This has great potential not only to make New Brunswick a leader in emerging energy sectors but to bring growth and opportunities to our economy.”

“We have done extensive research of which partners would best be suited to work with us in New Brunswick on this important research and development project and ARC Nuclear is an excellent fit for us here in New Brunswick,” said Gaëtan Thomas, president and CEO of NB Power. “The company is a world leader in its field and will be a great asset here in the province, along with our other partners we will announce soon as we broaden our opportunities in the energy sector.”

“We are well-positioned to seize an opportunity in this sector thanks to the know-how of our people and the tremendous asset we have in Point Lepreau,” said Rick Doucet, New Brunswick’s Energy and Resource Development Minister. “We are pleased to see that we have partners coming to the table who have the ability to make advancements in this sector, as we seek to transition to a lower-carbon economy.”

ARC will be supported by its partner, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), which previously announced a collaboration and commitment to the New Brunswick project. GEH has a significant investment in its sodium fast reactor technology program, with a 60-year history as an original equipment manufacturer of boiling water reactors worldwide.

ARC and GEH have been working to accelerate commercialization of the technology.

“We have been collaborating with ARC for more than a year and are bringing intellectual property, engineering tools and experts, rigorous quality programs, and management systems and processes, all of which are necessary for nuclear development,” said Jon Ball, executive vice president, Nuclear Plant Projects, GEH. “Advanced technology like the ARC-100 will help ensure that nuclear power contributes in the future to clean energy production.”

“ARC was formed to bring back and commercialize a technically mature, advanced reactor technology that was created and proven by a U.S. prototype reactor that ran successfully in the United States for 30 years,” said Don Wolf, CEO and chairman of ARC. “We are excited by the opportunity that this collaboration represents and applaud the Province of New Brunswick for their strategic decision. We intend to demonstrate that the inherent safety features of our reactor enable a simple and cost-effective design which will be competitive with all other forms of electricity generation, all while protecting our environment and complying with the export control rules of Canada and the United States.”

SMR technology is advancing worldwide. Here are links to some of POWER’s previous coverage:

NuScale Boosts SMR Capacity, Making it Cost Competitive with Other Technologies

Dominion Invests in GE-Hitachi Nuclear Development of 300-MW SMR

NRC Accepts NuScale Small Modular Reactor Design Certification Application

China Starts Building SMR-Based Floating Nuclear Plant

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).