Prototype SMR safety system completed

22 December 2022

X-Energy Reactor Company (X-energy) and Paragon Energy Solutions have worked for two years to deliver, install and test the reactor protection system prototype, a key safety feature of X-energy’s Xe-100 advanced nuclear reactors.

How a '4-pack' Xe-100 plant could look (Image: X-energy)

The reactor protection system (RPS) is a set of independent and redundant instrumentation and control components that enable the automatic and safe shutdown of a nuclear reactor, providing an added layer of protection for the plant and its environment. The prototype, which uses Paragon's Highly Integrated Protection System (HIPS) technology, has been installed in the Xe-100 control room simulator at X-energy's headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.

Paragon's HIPS platform is based on Field Programmable Gate Array technology. Having no run-time software, systems based on this technology are more secure and streamlined than systems found in older nuclear power plants, the companies said. The system's structure and design insulate it from coding errors and reduce cybersecurity risks.

The Xe-100 high-temperature gas-cooled reactor is one of two advanced small modular reactor designs selected by the US Department of Energy to receive federal support for the construction of a demonstration plant under the Advanced Reactor Development Program (ADRP). X-energy expects to demonstrate the Xe-100 by 2028, and said delivery of the prototype RPS is a milestone towards completing its ADRP mission.

"Safety is the most important objective of our company, our people, and our products," X-energy CEO Clay Sell said. "We have developed a system that is more effective and secure, and less costly and complex than legacy systems used by older nuclear power plants. Our system is designed to ensure the safe and secure operation of our reactors at all times."

Rock Creek Innovations, which designed and licensed the HIPS platform, was acquired by Paragon in December 2021. Paragon is expected to build and deliver the four-division RPS to all Xe-100 plants around the world when they are deployed under a long-term strategic agreement between the companies.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News