Joint licensing process for Westinghouse microreactor begins

February 28, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A rendering of an eVinci microreactor facility. (Image: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company has filed a notice of intent to submit key licensing reports for its eVinci microreactor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for joint review, the firm announced last week. (The two nuclear regulators signed a memorandum of cooperation in August 2019 to increase collaboration on the technical reviews of advanced reactor and small modular reactor technologies.)

According to the announcement, report topics for joint review include a common set of key requirements for the classification of eVinci systems, structures, and components. This approach, Westinghouse stated, will enable deployment of a standard design in both the United States and Canada. Other topics for review include defining the necessary transportation requirements for shipment of the microreactor across the border and factory safety testing and inspection programs.

“We look forward to working closely with both regulatory agencies as we move through the timely development and deployment of this unique advanced reactor technology,” said David Durham, Westinghouse energy systems president. “This joint engagement is critical to rapidly delivering a safe, reliable, and efficient microreactor to our customers.”

The tech: Westinghouse has described the eVinci microreactor as “essentially a small battery for decentralized generation markets and for microgrids, such as remote communities, remote industrial mines, and critical infrastructure.” Key attributes include the following:

  • Transportable energy generator.
  • Fully factory built, fueled, and assembled.
  • 1 MWe to 5 MWe combined heat and power.
  • 40-year design life, with a three-plus year refueling interval.
  • Target of less than 30 days on-site installation.
  • Autonomous operation.
  • Power demand load following capability.
  • Minimal moving parts.
  • Near-zero emergency planning zone with small site footprint.

Westinghouse team members display a 12-foot heat pipe fabricated at the Waltz Mill facility in Pennsylvania. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Tech milestone: The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) yesterday announced that Westinghouse recently manufactured a 12-foot heat pipe—one of the largest of its kind ever made—at the company’s Waltz Mill in Madison, Pa. The pipe’s manufacture, part of a $9.3 million cost-share project supported through the DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, is a key step forward in helping development of the eVinci, DOE-NE said. Prior to the upgrade, Westinghouse was manufacturing and testing heat pipes at a four-foot scale.

In case you missed it: In September of last year, Westinghouse signed a service agreement with the CNSC to bring the eVinci closer to commercialization. The agreement initiated a vendor design review—a prelicensing technical assessment of a company’s reactor technology.

Also in 2022, Westinghouse submitted 24 technical white papers to the NRC, as well as the first two topical reports for formal agency review, which were delivered in December, ahead of schedule.

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