Canada Sets Course for a Domestic SMR Industry

  • The Canadian Government is mapping out an industrial strategy to become a global leader in the design, development, manufacturing, and use of small modular reactors (SMRs).
  • The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is reviewing 10 SMR designs including the NuScale SMR from the U.S.
  • In unrelated news Holtec has signed off on a plan to build an SMR manufacturing facility in Ukraine
  • Holtec’s application for an interim storage facility for spend nuclear fuel at at site in NM has been accepted by the NRC
  • Russia Confirms Plans To Revive BN-1200 Fast Breeder Reactor Project

smr supply-chainThe Canadian government has announced a road mapping process under the Energy Innovation Program to explore the potential for on- and off-grid applications for small modular reactor (SMR) technology in Canada. The effort is being led by Natural Resources Canada which is the country’s energy ministry.

Driven by several provincial and territorial governments and energy utilities, the exercise will be delivered by the Canadian Nuclear Association and engage stakeholders “to better understand their views on priorities and challenges related to the possible development and deployment of SMRs in Canada.”

Participation in the roadmap will eventually expand to include manufacturers, research performers, waste management organizations and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.  However, so far no firms have come forward with concrete plans, backed by investors, to build an SMR manufacturing plant in Canada.  This objective, along with a supply chain for components, are key success factors for potential customers. They have to know reactor vendors are capable of building their designs.

Agency PR staff said the roadmap will be an important step in positioning Canada to advance next-generation technologies and become a global leader in the emerging SMR market.

According to the agency the stakeholder-driven roadmap will establish a long-term vision for the industry. It will assess the characteristics of different SMR technologies and how they align with user-requirements and Canadian priorities.

World Nuclear News (WNN) has previously reported that the national nuclear science and technology organization Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) last year set a goal of siting a new SMR on its Chalk River site by 2026.

It received 19 expressions of interest in siting a prototype or demonstration SMR at a CNL site. Canadian company Terrestrial Energy in June last year began a feasibility study for the siting of the first commercial Integrated Molten Salt Reactor at Chalk River.

The project is part of Canada’s plan for a “low carbon” energy future. It is expected the roadmap will be completed in the fall of 2018.

CNSC Takes on New SMR Reviews

(WNN) The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) is to conduct pre-licensing vendor design reviews (VDRs) of small modular reactor designs from NuScale Power and Westinghouse Electric Company. The reviews of the NuScale SMR and Westinghouse’s eVinci micro reactor will incorporate the first two phases of the VDR process.

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. It is part of CNSC’s regulatory strategy for safety reviews of designs of small modular reactors.

The three phases of the VDR process involve a pre-licensing assessment of compliance with regulatory requirements; an assessment of any potential fundamental barriers to licensing; and a follow-up phase allowing the vendor to respond to findings from the second phase.

The regulator said it expects to begin the VDR for the NuScale design in mid-2018, but has not yet determined when it expects to start the review for the eVinci design.

The CNSC is now involved with ten pre-licensing VDRs, all for small reactors with capacities of up to 300 MWe

Holtec Signs Off on Plan for SMR-160
Manufacturing Plant in Ukraine

holtec-logo_thumb.pngAs previously reported on this blog on February 18th, an MOU has been signed by Holtec International and Energoatom envisages the adoption by Ukraine of Holtec’s small modular reactor (SMR) technology with the country becoming a manufacturing hub for SMR-160 reactor components.

Under the agreement with Holtec, Ukraine will become a manufacturing hub for SMR-160 components and systems mirroring the capabilities of Holtec’s Camden plant. Holtec is also in talks with leading Ukrainian suppliers of specialty machinery such as turbo-generators to integrate their products in SMR-160.

(Holtec’s business plan calls for having four geographically distributed manufacturing plants around the globe, similar to its Advanced Manufacturing plant in Camden, NJ, operational by mid-2020s).

Speaking at the bi-annual meeting of the Holtec Advisory Council, Energoatom’s President declared his company’s intention to replace, as a pilot project, 2 VVER-440 power units of the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant with SMR-160 modular reactors.

President Nedashkovsky cited SMR-160’s “walk away” safe design and his company’s trust and confidence in Holtec based on a long-term successful business relationship behind Energoatom’s decision to select Holtec’s reactor system.

He said that Holtec’s SMR-160 design would be used to replace old coal burning plans and to servce as resilient distributed generation source, SMR-160s will likely also be deployed in co-generation roles providing steam as well as power at the country’s industrial sites.

Mr. Nedashkovsky is a member of the Holtec Advisory Council, which meets twice a year to assess and critique the developments in the SMR-160 reactor program. Holtec’s President & CEO, Dr. Kris Singh, serves on President Poroshenko’s National Investment Council which speaks to the strong relationship between Ukraine and Holtec.

According to World Nuclear News Holtec’s 160 MWe factory-built SMR uses low-enriched uranium fuel. The factory-built reactor’s core and the nuclear steam supply system components are located underground, No active components, such as pumps, are needed to run the reactor, which does not need any on-site or off-site power to shut down and to dissipate decay heat. The SMR-160 is planned for operation by 2026.

The NRC is carrying out pre-application activities on the Holtec reactor design. As previously reported on this blog Holtec International and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy have announced a collaboration to accelerate the commercialization of SMR-160.

Holtec has also applied for a pre-licensing vendor design review for SMR-160 by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and last year signed a teaming agreement with Canada’s SNC-Lavalin to collaborate in the development of reactor. Under that agreement, SNC-Lavalin – the parent company of Candu Energy – will provide Holtec with a range of nuclear engineering services, including supporting the licensing of the SMR-160 reactor.

NRC Sets Review of Holtec Plan
for Interim Storage of Spent Fuel at NM Site

(NucNet): The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has begun its review of an application by Holtec to build and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for spent fuel from commercial nuclear power reactors in New Mexico.

The NRC said the application is sufficiently complete for the staff to begin its detailed safety, security and environmental reviews.

Holtec submitted its application in March 2017 and supplemented it in October and December in response to NRC staff questions. The decision is significant because Holtec’s competition for a similar site in Andrews, TX, did not make it past the starting line.

Holtec wants to store up to 8,680 tonnes of uranium in commercial spent fuel for 40 years. The fuel is currently being stored at dozens of independent sites across the country.

The facility, known as Hi-Store CIS, uses Holtec’s Hi-Storm Umax technology, which stores loaded canisters in a subterranean configuration.

Holtec has an agreement for the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA) to host the facility. ELEA is a consortium of the cities of Carlsbad and Hobbs and the counties of Eddy and Lea.  The Associated Press reported that there is strong support in the community and in New Mexico for the project.

An effort by Waste Control Specialists (WCS)  to build a similar project at a site in Andrews, TX, was reported in April 2017 as being on hold due to the unexpectedly high costs, said to be $7.5M, of preparing the NRC application and the agency’s review process.

Waste Control Specialists “is faced with a magnitude of financial burdens that currently make pursuit of licensing unsupportable,” Rod Baltzer, the company’s president and CEO, said in a letter to the NRC.

The NRC accepted the WCS application as being technically complete in January 2017.

Russia Confirms Plans To Revive
BN-1200 Fast Breeder Reactor Project

(NucNet) Russia plans to begin construction of its first industrial-sized sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor in the 2020s after saying three years ago that the project had been postponed, the head of state nuclear corporation Rosatom Alexei Likhachev told president Vladimir Putin.

According to a transcript of a meeting posted on the Kremlin’s website, Mr Likhachev told Mr Putin that fast breeder reactors (FBRs) have significant advantages over existing reactor types and Rosatom is proposing that Russia goes ahead with its plans for the Generation IV BN-1200.

fbr cutaway

Concept drawing of a fast breeder reactor – Image: GE Hitachi

In 2015, Rosatom said construction of the planned BN-1200 at the Beloyarsk nuclear power station in central Russia had been postponed until at least 2020, with state nuclear operator Rosenergoatom citing the need to improve fuel for the reactor and questioning the project’s economic feasibility.

Rosenergoatom had planned to build two BN-1200 units at Beloyarsk with commercial operation scheduled by 2025. However, construction depends on the results of operating the pilot Beloyarsk-4 BN-800 plant, which began commercial operation in October 2016.

There is another commercially operational sodium-cooled FBR at Beloyarsk, the BN-600. Both the BN-600 and the BN-800 are smaller versions of the BN-1200.

Russia operates the BN-600 at Beloyarsk at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (RIAR) site in Dimitrovgrad, southwest Russia.

FBRs allow a significant increase in the amount of energy obtained from natural, depleted and recycled uranium. The technology also enables plutonium and other actinides to be used and recycled. Russia has been developing MOX and metallic uranium fuels for its fast reactors.

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