NuScale marks SMR progress in USA, Romania

05 January 2023

NuScale Power Corporation has submitted an application for approval of its updated small modular reactor design to US nuclear regulators. The company has also signed a contract with Romania's RoPower Nuclear S.A. for front-end engineering and design work toward the deployment of a VOYGR-6 SMR power plant at Doicești.

How a VOYGR-6 plant at Idaho National Laboratory might look (Image: UAMPS)

The NuScale Power Module, on which the company's VOYGR plants are based, is a pressurised water reactor incorporating all the components for steam generation and heat exchange. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a Final Safety Evaluation Report (FSER) for the design in September 2020, approving it for use in the USA - the only SMR design to date to receive such approval. Later that year, after further studies supported by increased analysis and test data, NuScale concluded that the technology could generate 25% more power per module, for a total of 77 MWe per module (gross). It therefore decided to seek approval of a six-module design, instead of the 12-module configuration that was in the previously approved design.

The Portland, Oregon-headquartered company said it completed the submission of its Standard Design Approval (SDA) application for the updated design - based on the six-module VOYGR-6 plant configuration, powered by the 77 MWe module - on 1 January. The design features the same fundamental safety case and passive safety features approved by the NRC in 2020, the company said.

NuScale President and CEO John Hopkins described the submission of the SDA application as "another critical regulatory milestone" for the company. "Customers already appreciate that our SMR is unmatched in reliability and safety. Today's announcement solidifies our technological superiority and does so within our previously stated commercialisation timeline," he added.

NuScale said it has submitted all parts of the application to the NRC including the entire Final Safety Analysis Report and all technical reports, which are incorporated by reference into the FSAR. Three additional Licensing Topical Reports are expected to be submitted by NuScale in the coming days. The NRC's previous approval "has set the stage for an efficient and effective review of the second SDA application", the company said.

In December, NuScale announced it had completed the standard generic plant design for the VOYGR plant that will serve as a starting point for deploying site-specific designs.

FEED in Romania

Meanwhile, the signing of a FEED contract by RoPower and NuScale on 28 December has been described by the companies as a significant step towards the deployment of a VOYGR plant in Romania. RoPower, a joint venture of Nova Power & Gas and Nuclearelectrica, is working on a project to repower a former coal plant at Doicești with a VOYGR-6 plant supplied by NuScale.

The FEED contract follows a June 2022 memorandum of understanding between NuScale and state-owned nuclear power corporation Nuclearelectrica to begin conducting engineering studies, technical reviews, and licensing and permitting activities for the project.

The first phase of FEED work will define the major site and specific inputs for a VOYGR-6 SMR power plant at Doicești. The eight-month project will include the issuance of subcontracts to perform the environmental impact assessment and subsurface geotechnical investigation, the evaluation of site and site-specific requirements for NuScale's standard plant design, and the development of a project-specific cost estimate.

"NuScale's commencement of Phase 1 Front-End Engineering and Design work in partnership with Nuclearelectrica/RoPower keeps Romania on the path toward becoming the first country in Europe to benefit from safe, reliable and carbon-free small modular reactor technology,” Hopkins said.

Nuclearelectrica CEO Cosmin Ghita said the signing of the FEED work contract comes after nearly four years of collaboration, research, and studies. "It also demonstrates the partners share the same values and commitment to build a greener and more sustainable future for the next generations," he said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News