Westinghouse Electric to submit key nuclear microreactor licensing reports for US-Canadian review

Dive Brief:

  • Westinghouse Electric announced Tuesday it will submit key licensing reports for its planned microreactor to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for joint review.
  • The eVinci microreactor is designed to provide about 5 MWe for eight years or longer without refueling and is factory built and assembled before shipping.
  • Licensing report topics for joint review include a common set of requirements for classifying systems, structures and components for the microreactor, and allowing deployment of a standard design in the U.S. and Canada, Westinghouse said.

Dive Insight:

Other topics for joint review are defining transportation requirements for shipment of the eVinci microreactor across the border and factory safety testing and inspection programs.

“We look forward to working closely with both regulatory agencies as we move through the timely development and deployment of this unique advanced reactor technology,” said David Durham, energy systems president at Westinghouse.

A microreactor is a small nuclear reactor that can operate as part of the electric grid, independently from the electric grid, or as part of a microgrid to generate up to 20 MW of thermal energy generating electricity and providing heat for industrial applications, according to Idaho National Laboratory. Most are designed to be portable and may be hauled by a tractor-trailer.

The NRC and CNSC signed a memorandum of cooperation in 2019 to facilitate technical reviews of advanced nuclear technologies. It is intended to strengthen collaboration on the technical reviews of advanced reactor and small modular reactor technologies.

The two agencies may consider each others’ experiences, regulatory information and results when conducting technology assessments for feedback to vendors or making recommendations for regulatory decisions, according to the cooperation agreement.

Westinghouse submitted 24 technical white papers and two topical reports to the NRC last year related to the eVinci microreactor. The topical reports were the first documents submitted to the federal agency in the microreactor program seeking formal review and approval, Westinghouse said.

The microreactor is expected to deliver electricity and heating for remote communities, universities, mining operations, industrial centers, data centers and defense facilities and can produce hydrogen, Westinghouse said. It can be redeployed to other sites as needed.

It has minimal moving parts and doesn’t require pumps, valves and associated systems used by traditional light water reactors, helping keep it compact and transportable, Westinghouse said. Containers can be added or removed to provide power and can be integrated into microgrids to work with renewables and energy storage.

Fueling would occur before the reactor is delivered to a site and would be removed when refueling is required.

The Westinghouse microreactor received $12.9 million in 2019 from the U.S. Department of Energy as a First of a Kind Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project.

The federal government and universities are looking to microreactors as sources of power and for research.

The University of Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering is applying for a license to build and operate a microreactor on campus for research purposes. The goal is to advance the commercial readiness of advanced reactor technology by deploying a micro nuclear reactor, the university said.

The Pennsylvania State University, which operates a 1 MW research reactor, and Westinghouse announced announced in May they’re discussing siting the eVinci microreactor at the university.

Last June, the U.S. Department of Defense selected Virginia-based BWX Technologies to build the nation’s first advanced nuclear microreactor. It will be capable of producing 1-5 MW and will be transportable in commercially available shipping containers. Once fueled, it will undergo up to three years of testing.

via Utility Dive

Categories: Energy