The First Ever Small Nuclear Reactor Design has Been Approved In The U.S


The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has certified a design for an advanced small modular reactor (SMR) for the first time. When applying for a license to develop and operate a new power plant, utilities might select the advanced reactor design.

The NRC’s certification is a significant endorsement of a potential climate solution that remains controversial among environmentalists. It essentially gives the go-ahead for an altogether new generation of nuclear reactors.

“SMRs are no longer an abstract concept,” Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Kathryn Huff said in a Department of Energy press release.

The recently published final rule allows utilities to use NuScale’s SMR design when seeking a joint license to build and operate a reactor. The design is a sophisticated light-water SMR, with each power module capable of producing 50 megawatts of emission-free electricity.

The VOYGRTM SMR power plant from NuScale can house up to 12 factory-built power modules, which are roughly one-third the size of a large-scale reactor. Each power module uses natural mechanisms like convection and gravity to passively cool the reactor without the use of additional water, power, or even operator intervention.

“We are thrilled to announce the historic rulemaking from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for NuScale’s small modular reactor design, and we thank the Department of Energy (DOE) for their support throughout this process,” said NuScale Power President and Chief Executive Officer John Hopkins. “The DOE has been an invaluable partner with a shared common goal—to establish an innovative and reliable carbon-free source of energy here in the U.S. “We look forward to continuing our partnership and working with the DOE to bring the UAMPS Carbon Free Power Project to completion.”

Since 2014, the US Department of Energy has contributed more than $600 million to the design, licensing, and siting of NuScale’s VOYGR SMR power station and other domestic SMR projects. Through the Carbon Free Power Project, DOE is currently collaborating with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) to test a six-module NuScale VOYGR facility at Idaho National Laboratory. The first module is scheduled to be operational by 2029, followed by full plant operation the following year.


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