Doosan Kicks Off NuScale SMR Production for Idaho Nuclear Project

South Korean power industrial giant Doosan has agreed to forge materials for NuScale Power’s small modular reactors (SMR) starting as early as this year, in a project that would support the commercial deployment of VOYGRs—NuScale’s name for its SMRs—at the 462-MWe Carbon-Free Power Project (CFPP) in Idaho Falls.

NuScale separately also teamed with American large component forging firms to boost its U.S. supply chain planning as it approaches near-term commercialization of the NuScale Power Modules (NPM).

Under the agreement signed with NuScale on April 25, Doosan Enerbility Co.—a Doosan subsidiary known until March 2022 as Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction—will begin full-scale equipment manufacturing of forging dies for NuScale’s upper reactor pressure vessel “by the latter half of 2023.”

This image shows a full-scale, upper module mockup of the NuScale Power Module (NPM) that NuScale fabricated and assembled in 2015. Major components in the assembled mockup include the upper portion of the containment vessel; the reactor vessel head; major piping (such as steam and feedwater); control drive mechanisms; major valves; and the module access platform. Courtesy: Business Wire

Manufacturing will presumably take place at Doosan Enerbility’s integrated nuclear component manufacturing facility in Changwon, South Korea, which has a range of manufacturing capabilities, from raw material production to final assembly of nuclear components. Doosan says it has to date manufactured and supplied 34 reactor vessels and 124 steam generators globally. These include reactor vessels and other main components for the Barakah nuclear plant in the United Arab Emirates.

Doosan Enerbility, notably, has held an investment share in NuScale since 2019 alongside Nuscale’s majority investor Fluor Corp., and other investors, including Sargent and Lundy, ARES Corp., Oregon State University. Since 2019, the South Korean firm has conducted “an extensive multi-year effort, completing the design for manufacture of the [NuScale Power Module (NPM)] and performing manufacturing trials to reduce schedule risk and increase cost certainty,” Doosan said on Monday.

In January 2021, it completed a manufacturability review for the NPM—the integral package that includes the reactor vessel, steam generators, pressurizer, and containment vessel. The review “successfully established the manufacturing sequence and processes for the NPMs,” Doosan noted.

The agreement signed on Monday now kicks off Doosan’s work on NPM component prototype development. “With this new agreement, Doosan will begin manufacturing of large forged materials used for NuScale’s SMRs in 2022 and expects to begin full-scale manufacturing of NPMs in the second half of 2023,” NuScale said.

NuScale’s Progress Integral for CFPP Project Timeframes

The agreement marks a definitive milestone for NuScale’s VOYGR SMR technology, which it introduced in 2000 as an Oregon State University concept. NuScale is now eyeing a 2027 module delivery timetable for its commercial VOYGR offering, aligned with a planned startup of the CFPP at its Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site in 2029.

CFPP, a subsidiary of Utah state energy services interlocal agency Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), is developing the first-of-a-kind CFPP SMR project, which will feature six VOYGR modules. CFPP, Fluor, and NuScale are currently working on developing a combined license application (COLA), which they expect to submit to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in January 2024 in accordance with the regulatory agency’s 10 CFR 52 requirements.

On Aug. 28, 2020, NuScale’s 50-MWe (160 MWth) module became the first SMR to receive a final safety evaluation report (FSER) from the NRC as part of a Phase 6 review—the last and final phase—of NuScale’s Design Certification Application (DCA). However, the NRC now needs to complete a review of the company’s power uprate (from 60-MWe to 77-MWe) as part of a Standard Design Approval (SDA) application, which NuScale has said it could submit this year. NuScale has underscored a need for regulatory efficiency given that the CFPP COLA will reference the SDA for the 77-MWe module plant design.

The CFPP project is otherwise making progress and remains on schedule, LaVarr Webb, UAMPS spokesperson told POWER on Tuesday. In February, developers announced completion of field investigation activities at its INL site in Idaho Falls, Idaho. And in March, UAMPS announced it signed a term sheet agreement with Xcel Energy Nuclear Services Holdings to explore Xcel’s role as plant operator at the CFPP. 

UAMPS says it has also made progress in developing a contract with NuScale as its original equipment manufacturer (OEM). It is now also “close” to securing Fluor as the project’s engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor. 

So far, UAMPS has signed up 27 of its 50-member pool—mainly in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico—as participants in the CFPP. It is now in discussions with new potential CFPP participants. “Discussions have occurred with many utilities in many states, but some discussions have been only casual/introductory, while others are well advanced,” Web said.

Other work underway includes developing a Class 3 cost estimate, developing topical reports for submission to the NRC, and developing a supply chain pricing analysis, as well as an area market labor analysis.

Fielding a Demand for SMRs Worldwide

Doosan and NuScale on Monday both underscored the milestone’s significance in what they suggested was a surging opportunity to capture market share in the SMR market. Geewon Park, chairman and CEO of Doosan Enerbility meanwhile hailed the agreement’s solidification of Doosan’s “strategic cooperative relationship” with NuScale Power. Doosan has “made full preparation for SMR manufacturing,” he noted. “The growing market demand for SMRs will also open a door for participation of our subcontractors,” he said.

NuScale President and CEO John Hopkins said the agreement “showcases NuScale’s commercial readiness and signals to the world that NuScale is truly the frontrunner in the race to bring SMRs to market.”

NuScale has secured several lucrative deals and agreements in recent months, including for a NuScale project of up to 924 MWe in Poland, and teaming agreement with Romania’s Nuclearelectrica to explore a six-module, 462-MWe VOYGR-6 power plant in Romania as early as 2027/2028. NuScale is in parallel working on several other prospects in the Central and Eastern European regions, which are facing energy security uncertainty as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine continues.

Prospects are now opening up in Asia, too. NuScale and Doosan Enerbility, along with South Korean firms Samsung C&T Corp. and GS Energy on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the deployment of NuScale’s VOYGR power plants in specified (but unnamed) “mutually agreed” locations. These efforts are driven by the urgency to act on decarbonization. “I believe that the world today is in dire need of SMR deployment to respond to the global climate crisis and to reach net-zero,” noted Yongsoo Huh, GS Energy president and CEO. 

Along with financial support, Doosan, Samsung and GS Energy “will lend their respective expertise to NuScale Power in areas such as component manufacturing, prior nuclear construction experience, and power plant operation,” NuScale said in a statement. “Doosan is a world-renowned nuclear pressure vessel manufacturer, Samsung is a trusted nuclear power plant contractor, and GS Energy brings more than 20 years of expertise as a power plant operator,” it noted.

NuScale Developing North American Supply Chain Focus

But NuScale’s agreement with Doosan is just one of many efforts with suppliers and manufacturers around the world. In a similar effort, NuScale engaged BWXT Canada in 2019 on an 18-month “design for manufacturing” contract for its upper reactor pressure vessel and steam generator. NuScale said it intended to award the manufacturing contract to BWXT Canada for Canadian projects. In September 2021, it said it anticipated more contracts with BWXT Canada for manufacturing services related to the upper reactor pressure vessel, which could commence this year, “with the goal of supporting a Canadian deployment in 2028.”

In tandem, NuScale is also stepping up development of its domestically sourced supply chain. On April 22, it signed a collaboration agreement with the U.S. Reactor Forging Consortium (RFC) “to leverage the existing robust forging supply chain in the U.S., to prepare NuScale to deploy its SMR technology to customers worldwide, and to support, retain, and expand U.S. manufacturing jobs.”

The RFC comprises three companies—North American Forgemasters (NAF), Scot Forge, and ATI Forged Products—which combined form the only fully integrated manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere of specific components with as-forged piece weights exceeding 160 tons. These include large alloy and stainless steel open die, seamless rolled ring, and large uniquely shaped forgings (heads with integral nozzles).

NAF, notably, is already partnering with the Pennsylvania-based Center for Advanced Nuclear Manufacturing (operated by Concurrent Technologies Corporation [CTC]), on a full production size shell research project that will focus on the use of austenitic stainless steel for reactor and containment vessels in SMRs and advanced reactors. Backed with a grant from Pennsylvania’s Department of Economic Development, NAF, Scot Forge, and ELLWOOD Group are slated to perform melting, forging, heat-treating, rough-machining, mechanical testing, and non-destructive testing. CTC will oversee the development and perform independent technical evaluations of the forged material, the RFC said.

The collaboration agreement between RFC and NuScale will see the manufacturers and the technology company cooperate in design for manufacturability reviews for forged geometries. Key goals are “to reduce welding, chemical composition tailoring and optimized configuration for fabrication,” they added. NuScale added that the collaboration would support the U.S. supply chain planning as it approaches near-term commercialization of the NPM. 

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel@POWERmagazine).

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