Westinghouse prepares for US licensing of eVinci

15 December 2021

Westinghouse has submitted a pre-application regulatory engagement plan (REP) with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for its eVinci microreactor, detailing the planned pre-licensing application interactions with the regulator. An REP helps reactor developers' early interactions with NRC staff and can reduce regulatory uncertainty and add predictability to licensing advanced technologies.

The eVinci micro -reactor (Image: Westinghouse)

"This plan is an update to the version submitted in January 2020 and covers the planned pre-application interactions with the NRC in support of future Westinghouse eVinci microreactor licence application(s)," Westinghouse Senior Director of Licensing and Advanced Reactors Engineering Michael Corletti said in a 15 November letter to the NRC accompanying the REP.

"The enclosed plan includes information on the basic design of the eVinci microreactor as well as the regulatory strategies envisioned including design, manufacturing, and transportation phases of deployment," the letter said. "The plan includes our proposal of key topic areas that we would like to address through pre-application interactions to allow both Westinghouse and the NRC to determine the most effective means to license the advanced eVinci microeactor design. Through these interactions Westinghouse will continue to update the NRC of our deployment plans as they evolve."

There is no regulatory requirement for an REP, and the guidelines note that the topics and appropriate level of detail a prospective applicant would wish to include are entirely voluntary and should be agreed upon in discussions between the applicant and NRC staff.

"This regulatory milestone also sanctions substantial technology validation progress achieved on the overall development plan of eVinci micro-reactors," Westinghouse said.

The eVinci microreactor is described as a "small battery" for decentralised generation markets and for microgrids, such as remote communities, remote industrial mines and critical infrastructure. The nominal 5 MWe heat pipe reactor, which has a heat capability of 14 MWt, features a design that Westinghouse says provides competitive and resilient power as well as superior reliability with minimal maintenance. It is small enough to allow for standard transportation methods, making it perfectly suited for remote locations and rapid, on-site deployment. These features, the company says, make it a viable option for mines and remote and off-grid communities.

"The eVinci microreactor is a truly disruptive energy technology that will provide reliable, carbon-free energy across the world," said David Durham, president of Westinghouse Energy Systems. "This action brings us closer to commercialising eVinci reactors by the end of this decade."

Westinghouse applied in February 2018 to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a pre-licensing vendor design review (VDR) of the eVinci. The CNSC offers the pre-licensing VDR as an optional service to provide an assessment of a nuclear power plant design based on a vendor's reactor technology. It is not a required part of the licensing process for a new nuclear power plant, but aims to verify the acceptability of a design with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News