NuScale advances work with BWXT, builds out Canada’s SMR supply chain

September 17, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
BWXT Canada’s Cambridge, Ontario, facility. (Photo: BWXT Canada)

NuScale Power announced earlier this week that manufacturing process development work on its small modular reactor—the NuScale Power Module—is advancing at BWXT Canada Ltd.’s Cambridge, Ontario, facility in preparation for module fabrication. NuScale said that this work is critical to the development of its SMR technology and is an example of the supply chain development opportunities for Canadian companies with the requisite power plant equipment expertise.

Terrestrial Energy upgrades IMSR plant design

September 17, 2021, 7:03AMNuclear News
Rendition of the IMSR400 power plant in the configuration proposed for the Darlington site. (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

Terrestrial Energy has upgraded the design of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) nuclear power plant, the company announced on September 14. The proposed facility will now feature 390 MWe of generation capacity for grid supply from twin reactors and generators.

CNSC, NRC complete joint report on the Xe-100 SMR

August 19, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have completed the first collaborative project under a two-year-old memorandum of cooperation (MOC) aimed at enhancing technical reviews of advanced reactor and small modular reactor technologies, the CNSC announced earlier this week.

The project, a 23-page joint report from the regulators on a white paper submitted last July by X-energy regarding reactor pressure vessel (RPV) construction code specifications for the company’s Xe-100 SMR, was released to the public on August 6. The Xe-100 is an 80-MWe unit that can be scaled into a “four-pack” 320-MWe power plant, according to X-energy.

NuScale, Xcel agree to explore future partnerships

August 18, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
A still image from a three-part video tour of NuScale’s facilities. (Photos: NuScale Power)

NuScale Power has signed a memorandum of understanding with Xcel Energy to explore the feasibility of the utility’s serving as a plant operator at NuScale plants, the Portland, Ore.-based small modular reactor developer announced earlier this week.

Xcel owns and, through subsidiary Northern States Power Company, operates Minnesota’s two nuclear plants, Monticello and Prairie Island. The Monticello facility houses one 671-MWe boiling water reactor, while Prairie Island has twin 550-MWe pressurized water reactors.

UAMPS downsizes NuScale SMR plans

July 21, 2021, 7:06AMNuclear News
A still image from a three-part video tour of NuScale’s facilities. (Photos: NuScale Power)

When Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) in 2015 announced its plan to develop the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) using NuScale Power’s modular light water reactor design, it envisioned the construction of a dozen 50-MWe modules for a plant that could produce a total of 600 MWe. The CFPP’s target output later rose to 720 MWe, when UAMPS opted to scale up to 60-MWe modules. In late June, the plans changed once again, as UAMPS participants chose to build 77-MWe modules but downsize the plant from 12 units to six, which would yield 462 MWe—about 64 percent of the 720 MWe that could have been generated from 12 of the 60-MWe modules.

Autonomous operation of small reactors: Economy of automation in lieu of economy of scale

July 1, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear NewsRichard Wood


As indicated in the April issue of Nuclear News, development of advanced reactor concepts heavily emphasizes small modular reactors and microreactors. Promised features, such as capital cost savings, plant system simplification, implementation flexibility, and favorable operational responsiveness with passive safety behavior, all promote small reactors as desirable, non-­­carbon-­­emitting power sources to help satisfy future energy needs. In spite of the favorable up-­­front economics compared to large nuclear reactors, SMRs and microreactors do not provide the benefit of economy of scale that typically compensates for the high staffing demands associated with traditional, labor-intensive operations and maintenance (O&M) practices in the nuclear industry. To avoid the prospect that high staffing levels relative to unit power production will lead to unsustainable O&M costs for small reactors, a significantly higher degree of automation, to the point of near autonomy, is necessary. Essentially, the economy of automation is needed to offset the loss of economy of scale.

ANS to Congress: Don’t prohibit civil nuclear cooperation with China

June 30, 2021, 3:00PMANS News

The American Nuclear Society sent a letter this morning to the chairman and the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urging them to oppose any amendments to H.R. 3524, the Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act, that would disallow U.S. cooperation with China in the field of civil nuclear energy.

The bill, introduced on May 25 by the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.), was scheduled for markup by the committee this afternoon at 1:00 (EDT).

Commissioner Caputo to leave NRC on June 30

June 23, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Annie Caputo will depart the agency when her term expires at the end of this month, NRC Chairman Christopher Hanson said yesterday. Her departure will leave the five-seat panel with only three commissioners—the minimum number required for it to conduct business—as former chairman Kristine Svinicki resigned in January of this year.

At this writing, Caputo has not announced her post-NRC plans.

Remaining on the commission are two Democrats, Hanson and Jeff Baran, and one Republican, David Wright. President Biden has not named a replacement for either of the vacancies and can choose only one Democrat, since no more than three commissioners can be from the same political party.

Argonne-led team models fluid dynamics of entire SMR core

June 9, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
This image shows the individual pins in a full-core nuclear reactor simulation. (Image: ANL)

Coolant flow around the fuel pins in a light water reactor core plays a critical role in determining the reactor’s performance. For yet-to-be-built small modular reactors, a thorough understanding of coolant flow will be key to successfully designing, building, and licensing first-of-a-kind reactors.

“Now is the time” for more ATR capacity: A conversation with Lightbridge

May 28, 2021, 12:06PMNuclear News
A photo of a prototype Lightbridge fuel assembly. (Photo: Lightbridge)

Operators at the Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory have begun a nine-month outage to perform a core internals changeout. When the ATR is restarted in early 2022, the top head closure plate of the pressurized water test reactor will have new access points that could permit the irradiation of more fuel and material samples in the reactor’s high-flux neutron conditions.

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.

Another Canadian province signs on for SMR development

April 20, 2021, 9:31AMNuclear News
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at an online event on April 14, after signing an agreement on small modular reactor development. Photo: Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has added his signature to a memorandum of understanding on small modular reactor development that was signed in 2019 by the premiers of New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Kenney signed the document last week at a virtual event that also promoted the release of Feasibility of Small Modular Reactor Development and Deployment in Canada—a study formally requested as part of the MOU.

Making emergency planning zones smarter: a risk-informed approach for new reactors

April 16, 2021, 2:52PMNuclear NewsCurtis Smith, Koroush Shirvan, Jason Christensen, and Kurt Vedros

The health and safety of the public and protecting people from the consequences of a significant release of radioactive material has been a top priority since the early days of the civilian nuclear energy program. After World War II, it was realized that the core inventory of radionuclides is a potential hazard. From this knowledge, emergency planning zones (EPZs) for nuclear power plants were established.

Pandemic-delayed ANS Student Conference kicks off with enthusiasm

April 9, 2021, 11:59AMANS News
NCSU: Site of the 2021 ANS Student Conference

North Carolina State University was finally able to host the ANS Student Conference, April 8 to 10. After the 2020 event was canceled due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 version is being held virtually for the first time.

The conference's opening session is available for registered attendees to view online.

Study: SMRs could offer low-cost decarbonization for Canada’s industrial sector

April 8, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

New research indicates that small modular reactors have the potential to deliver cost-effective emission reductions in Canada’s heavy-industry sector. The research was conducted by consulting firms EnviroEconomics and Navius Research, with support from the Canadian Nuclear Association and the Canadian Nuclear Industry SMR Secretariat, along with the CANDU Owners Group.

Researchers explored a variety of cost and technical assumptions for deploying SMRs. Across all scenarios, SMRs delivered low-cost emission reductions, driving down the cost of getting Canada to net zero by 2050—a stated goal of the Trudeau administration. With deployments set to begin as early as 2026, SMRs could be widespread by 2035 as the demand increases rapidly for reductions in the industrial sector, according to the researchers.

A bright future ahead for nuclear engineering students

April 5, 2021, 3:00PMANS NewsMary Lou Dunzik-Gougar

Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar

Happy spring to you, my nuclear comrades. As I write this column (in early March), I’m glancing out the window at the 10 inches of snow still remaining in my backyard. By the time you read this, the snow may be gone, and spring flowers may be poking out of the earth. Every year, I look forward to gardening season, which is short but fun in Idaho.

Over the past year, unfortunately, many of the things we looked forward to didn’t happen. Hardest hit, of course, were the people who fell ill with COVID-­19 and those who lost jobs. But in the “disappointed” category, our students were especially vulnerable. Elementary school students, who most need face-­to-­face contact with their teachers, were isolated at home. Adolescents and teens had no dances, football games, or lunchtimes with their friends. High school and college seniors couldn’t celebrate graduation. University freshmen, who already cope with significant change and stress, added to their agendas the threat of a global pandemic and the complication of distance learning.

NCSU to host SMR technical library with support from endowment

April 1, 2021, 9:32AMNuclear News

The North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries Department and the Department of Nuclear Engineering are collaborating to build a small modular reactor technical library at NCSU. The library resources will be available to the NCSU research community and to TerraPower/GE Hitachi and X-energy, both of which have signed teaming agreements with NCSU researchers to support planned advanced reactor demonstrations within the next seven years.

Making the new library collection possible: a generous donation from NCSU alumnus Stephen Rea, who together with his wife, Phyllis, formed the Stephen and Phyllis Rea Endowment for Mechanical Engineering Collections in 2015.

“We wanted to seed the endowment and grow it through donations to pursue research and development of green advanced power generation technologies,” Rea explained. “Supporting the advancement of SMR technology development fits our mission statement perfectly.”

Canada invests $40M in Moltex SMR technology

March 25, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

Artist’s rendering of the Stable Salt Reactor–Wasteburner (SSR–W) and WAste to Stable Salt (WATSS) facility. Image: Moltex

The Canadian government has awarded C$50.5 million (about $40.2 million) to Moltex Energy Canada to support small modular reactor research and technology development in New Brunswick. The investment, announced March 18, was provided by the government’s Strategic Innovation Fund and its Regional Economic Growth Through Innovation program, part of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).

In a press release on the funding, Moltex said it plans to build the world’s first 300-MW Stable Salt Reactor–Wasteburner (SSR–W) and WAste to Stable Salt (WATSS) facility at the Point Lepreau Generating Station site in Saint John, New Brunswick, and provide electricity to the grid by the early 2030s. According to the company, its WATSS process, which recycles existing used nuclear fuel, has the potential to reduce storage needs for that fuel.

Moltex also noted its expectation that jobs created through the project will, over the next 15 years, contribute approximately C$1 billion (about $800 million) to Canada’s gross domestic product and result in some C$100 million (about $79.7 million) in federal government revenue.