Westinghouse gets approval for SMR testing

18 March 2015

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved Westinghouse's testing approach for its small modular reactor design. Approval is a significant step toward design certification and will reduce the time ultimately needed to license the Westinghouse SMR, the company said yesterday.

In a letter dated 27 February, the NRC told Westinghouse that it has granted a Safety Evaluation Report for the licensing topical report that the company submitted in April 2012 for agency review and approval. The report identified what would occur in the unlikely event of accident due to a small break in water circuit that cools the reactor, and defined the test program that Westinghouse will conduct to prove that its safety systems would safely shut down the reactor in response to a such an accident.

The Westinghouse SMR is derived from the AP1000 plant design, which received a design certification amendment from the NRC in 2011. Eight AP1000 units are currently under construction at four sites in the USA and China. This origin is "a key benefit" of the Westinghouse SMR, said Jeff Benjamin, Westinghouse senior vice president for new plants and major projects.

"The development program has involved many years of testing and analysis, which can be successfully applied to advance our SMR program as the market for the technology matures in the future," Benjamin said. Westinghouse believes the NRC action "confirms the technical maturity" of the Westinghouse SMR concept design, he added.

Westinghouse said the potential for intermediate and large breaks in the reactor coolant loop - and the correspondingly more serious accident conditions - is eliminated in the Westinghouse SMR design because there are no large primary penetrations of the reactor vessel or large loop piping. The design is an integral pressurized water reactor with all primary components located inside of the reactor vessel. As a power unit it would produce 225 MWe in operation.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News