Micro Modular Reactor reaches Canadian licensing milestone

May 24, 2021, 9:27AMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of the MMR project. (Image: USNC)

Global First Power’s (GFP) Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) project has moved to the formal license review phase with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), becoming the first small modular reactor to do so.

As explained in GFP’s May 19 announcement, the company now moves closer to its 2026 goal of building, owning, and operating Canada’s first SMR. The proposed 15-MWt (approximately 5 MWe) high-temperature gas-cooled reactor is to be sited at Chalk River Laboratories, operated by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL).

GFP is a joint venture formed by USNC-Power, a Canadian subsidiary of Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), and Ontario Power Generation.

Last month, CNL announced that it had fabricated fully ceramic microencapsulated (FCM) fuel pellets, a proprietary reactor fuel designed by USNC for its MMR. The FCM project, funded through the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative, represents the first time that tristructural isotropic (TRISO) fuel has been manufactured in Canada, CNL said.

Under the hood: According to USNC, the MMR's energy system integrates “one or several standardized microreactors with a heat storage unit and the adjacent plant for power conversion and utilization. Electrical power or process heat (or a mix of both) is produced in the energy system, depending on configuration. Nuclear heat is transferred from the microreactors to a molten salt energy storage unit that decouples the nuclear system from the power utilization system, greatly simplifying operations and allowing flexible use of the energy generated.” The system can be used to provide high-quality process heat for colocated industrial applications and for high-efficiency hydrogen production, USNC added.

Macro reactions: “Being the first fourth-generation nuclear technology to formally enter licensing in Canada is testament to our innovative reactor design and its safety advantages,” said Francesco Venneri, USNC’s chief executive officer. “We look forward to the next phase in the CNSC process and striving for near-term completion of our MMR energy system, demonstrating the commercial potential of our technology to deliver safe, reliable, carbon-free energy to industry and remote communities.”

Joe McBrearty, president and CEO at CNL, added, “I would like to congratulate the team at Global First Power on reaching this significant milestone. The licensing of a new nuclear reactor must be underpinned by a robust scientific understanding and sound environmental research. The acceptance of this license application into formal review is evidence of the viability and safety of this project and the diligence of the GFP team in preparing their application.”

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