Interview with NuScale’s Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes photo 2018

Jose Reyes

Jose N. Reyes, Ph.D., (right) is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of NuScale Power, and the co-designer of the NuScale passively-cooled small nuclear reactor. He agreed to do an interview by email with this blog.

This is one of the more lengthy interviews that Reyes has done recently with the nuclear trade press. The complete set of questions and his answers are found below.

Here are a few take-aways to get you started.

Romania – NuScale signed an MOU with Romania to address development, licensing and construction of a NuScale SMR for a potential long-term energy solution in Romania.

UK – The focus is on development of the supply chain and high value manufacturing. The UK represents a valuable opportunity for NuScale to transform the the country into an export hub, capturing significant share of a lucrative future global SMR market.

Jordan – NuScale could be a game-changer with this technology for Jordan. It’s small footprint, low cost, minimal needs for cooling water compared to a 1000 MW Russian VVER, all work to its advantage there.

NRC design review, operational date – The NRC review is expected to be completed in September 2020.

NuScale’s first customer, UAMPS, plans to commence site preparation in 2021.  Nuclear construction (i.e., first safety related concrete) will commence in 2023 with the first module operational by late 2026. The full 12-module plant will be operational by 2027.

Supply Chain in the US  – Multiple vendors are onboard.

The supply chain for NuScale’s technology largely resides in the United States and could potentially support 13,500 jobs across the country (based on manufacturing three, 12-module plants per year).

Nuclear Fuel – The fuel bundle materials and low enriched fuel are identical to those currently used in full size PWRs.

Spent Fuel – All of the spent fuel generated by all 12 modules over the 60-year life of the plant can be safely stored in dry casks onsite within a relatively small footprint.

Nuclear energy R&D using NuScale’s reactors – INL-DOE to explore the potential for secure, hardened microgrids and the use of nuclear energy beyond the electricity sector, including applications that could contribute to economic growth and national security.

NuScale in Canada – NuScale has signed a service agreement with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to submit an application under the CNSC’s Vendor Design Review process in 2019. NuScale expects to make its first submittal by the end of 2019.

Full Text of the Complete Interview

What work is expected to take place under new agreement with Romania? The country has been in negotiations for several years with China for two new CANDU type reactors, PHWR, at Ceranvoda, but no deal yet. Is Romania considering SMRs as an alternative?   

Nuclear power currently provides 20 percent of domestic energy in Romania. Since its founding in 1998, Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica SA (SNN SA) has operated the only nuclear power plants in Romania. While we cannot speak to Romania’s energy plans, NuScale did sign a memorandum of understanding with SNN SA in March 2019 to evaluate the development, licensing and construction of a NuScale SMR for a potential long-term energy solution in Romania. We look forward to working with SNN SA to explore options for deploying our technology in Romania to serve as a carbon-free, renewable energy source for a variety of applications.

NuScale opened an office in UK. Any prospects elsewhere in Europe or UK you can discuss? UK has been slow to implement an SMR policy prompting Rolls Royce to go public with plans to possibly spin off its relevant business unit.  How do you see the SMR business climate there? Will Brexit be a problem?

Over the past five years NuScale has developed partnerships with leading UK companies such as Ultra Electronics and Sheffield Forgemasters, alongside running suppliers and partners event. We are committed to developing our UK partnership program further. Plans are underway for NuScale SMRs to be deployed in the UK within the next decade.

In keeping with the UK government’s strategy, NuScale SMRs could make a very significant contribution to providing a low carbon form of energy, alongside the fact that British companies could potentially provide more than 85% of the content required for those deployments. We aim to continue to support the development of UK skills and capabilities, particularly in the area of high value manufacturing.

There is a valuable opportunity for NuScale to transform the UK into an export hub, capturing significant share of a lucrative future global SMR market.

In terms of Brexit, we will make any necessary updates to our business strategy once there is greater clarity over the process.

What’s happening in Jordan? That country has entertained options with Rolls Royce for a LWR, X Entergy for an HTGR, South Korea for its SMART reactor, and NuScale. It ditched a deal with Rosatom for two 1000 MW VVER based on cost and inability to attract investors for its 50% share.  Which way will Jordan go? What’s the best case for NuScale in Jordan?

As Jordan considers its energy future, NuScale is confident that the unmatched resiliency and safety features of its SMR technology make the company the ideal partner on the country’s civil nuclear power goals. NuScale’s scalable multi-module plant design permits a high degree of flexibility for deployment in a wide range of conventional and unique electrical and thermal applications, including economic energy production.

This makes it a particularly attractive energy source for desalination processes at various scales. We look forward to using the agreement to showcase our SMR’s unique capabilities, cost benefits, and flexibility, all which demonstrate what a game-changer this technology will be for Jordan.

Expected date for NRC to complete design review?  Expected date for 1st unit to be ready to be complete and ready to load fuel?  What does the updated roadmap (graphic) look like today?  What are some of the highlights of the review so far, e.g., emergency planning zone, staffing, and backup electrical power?

NuScale’s technology is the first and only SMR design to undergo design certification review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In April 2018, the NRC completed the first and most intensive phase of review for NuScale’s DCA. NRC review progresses on schedule and is expected to be completed in September 2020.

NuScale’s first customer, UAMPS, plans to commence site preparation in 2021.  Nuclear construction (i.e., first safety related concrete) will commence in 2023 with the first module operational by late 2026. The full 12-module plant will be operational by 2027.

During the rigorous NRC’s phase 1 review, which included 115,000 hours spent reviewing the DCA, the NRC issued one-third the requests for additional information compared to other recent design certification applications. This demonstrates the simplicity of NuScale’s design and quality of its application.

In January 2018, NuScale announced the NRC concluded that application of NuScale Power’s novel safety design approach eliminates the need for class 1E power for its small modular reactor. Class 1E is the regulatory standard set for the design of safety-related nuclear power plant electrical systems.

The NRC approved NuScale Power’s “Safety Classification of Passive Nuclear Power Plant Electrical Systems” Licensing Topical Report, where the company established the bases of how a design can be safe without reliance on any safety-related electrical power. It’s a ground-breaking development because no operating nuclear plant in the country can make that claim.

power-module-dissection

Diagram of NuScale’s 50 MW LWR Small Modular Reactor

How is development of supply chain coming along? NuScale has emphasized “factory” production of reactors. What will be mix of current production capacity at BWXT v. component suppliers.  e.g. steam system, turbine, etc.

NuScale is making progress on supply chain development through agreements with manufacturers and technology companies.

In September 2018, NuScale selected Virginia-based BWX Technologies, Inc. BWXT to start the engineering work to manufacture NuScale’s SMR. The decision, which follows a rigorous 18-month selection process, with expressed interest from 83 companies based in 10 countries, marks the first phase in bringing NuScale’s pioneering design to life.

In November 2018, NuScale announced that it has selected Minnesota-based PaR Systems, LLC to begin engineering work for the manufacturing of its Reactor Building Crane, an important element of NuScale’s innovative nuclear plant design.

In January 2019, NuScale and Ultra Electronics Energy unveiled a new safety display and indication system using field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology that represents the first application of FPGA technology for real time display and monitoring in the U.S. commercial nuclear industry. The innovative displays will enhance the already unparalleled safety of a NuScale Power Plant.

Additionally, Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Co., Ltd. (DHIC) is expected to bring its expertise in nuclear pressure vessel manufacturing and will join the larger U.S.-led manufacturing team to build.

The supply chain for NuScale’s technology largely resides in the United States and could potentially support 13,500 jobs across the country (based on manufacturing three, 12-module plants per year).

Hundreds of jobs would be created in the U.S. to support the design, construction, commissioning, and ongoing service support for NuScale plants deployed in the U.S. and abroad. NuScale itself does not have current plans to build a factory to fabricate NuScale Power Modules™ (NPMs). NuScale has selected Virginia-based BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT) to start the engineering work to manufacture the NPMs.

Any investment in additional factory capacity will be undertaken by the NPM manufacturers. By utilizing a diverse supply chain, there is a substantial U.S. fabrication capacity available today for the first several U.S. NuScale plants.

Is there anything unique about the nuclear fuel for NuScale compared to full size PWRs?

NuScale has worked with Framatome to develop its NuFuel-HTP2TM fuel bundles. The only unique feature of the design is that it is essentially one-half the height of those used in full size PWRs.  The fuel bundle materials and low enriched fuel are identical to those currently used in full size PWRs.

Will creation of spent fuel at Idaho site by UAMPS as utility operator create a new issue in Idaho? Reactor will be a tenant on INL based on DOE site permit. State of Idaho has taken hard line on no new spent fuel at Idaho until more progress is made with cleanup of nuclear waste.

For questions relating to the implications of fuel disposal at the UAMPS site, we’ll refer you to INL.

More generally, it’s important to keep in mind that used nuclear fuel still has considerable energy available and could be recovered. There are existing and new technologies on the drawing boards today that can utilize used nuclear fuel. We have demonstrated that used fuel can be safely transported and stored, as needed.

The NuScale design will also be able to take advantage of advanced fuel designs in development, when they are ready, which hold real promise to reduce the inventory of used fuel. The NuScale plant design incorporates proven safe, secure, and effective used fuel management systems.

Used fuel is stored underwater in a stainless steel lined concrete pool for at least 5 years; after which NuScale will use industry best-practice to move spent fuel from the pool to air-cooled dry cask storage. All of the spent fuel generated by all 12 modules over the 60-year life of the plant can be safely stored in dry casks onsite within a relatively small footprint.

In February 2016 Wisconsin removed a three decades old ban on new nuclear power plants. Does NuScale see an opportunity there as a result?  Any prospects you can talk about in other states?

Nuclear energy already provides 60% of our carbon free energy in the United States, and it is set to play an even larger role as we look to diminish our carbon footprint while meeting a growing energy demand. Civilization requires on-demand electricity resources, which can be met by NGCC, renewables plus storage or a NuScale plant.

We believe that all of these technologies are needed, and the need is growing. In the end, people want clean and affordable energy that is available on-demand. NuScale can meet that demand, and that value is recognized by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), our first customer.

Small modular reactor (SMR) technology, and our NuScale Power Module™ (NPM) in particular, are uniquely positioned to lead the transition away from fossil fuels and traditional, large-scale nuclear facilities that come with burdensome costs and inefficiencies.

The applications for this technology – in Wisconsin, across the United States and around the world – are vast, ranging from industrial applications using process heat, to powering residential communities, critical installations and even meeting first-responder energy needs.

Moreover, the U.S. Department of Energy has already recognized the enormous potential of NuScale’s SMR technology and the needs in can address, having already awarded around $300 million in cost-shared financial assistance to advance its technology to date. It is difficult to overstate the potential SMRs have to address our green energy needs in the 21st century, and we look forward to bringing our first plant online at the Idaho National Laboratory in 2026.

The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has a plan to conduct nuclear energy R&D using NuScale’s light water reactor technology. In doing so it will create a test bed on an international scale for advanced reactor designs. How are these plans coming along? What kind of R&D will take place?

DOE seeks long-term, reliable, resilient, and on-site electricity in support of INL operations including its important national security operations: through the recently-announced Joint Use Modular Plant (JUMP) program, DOE and UAMPS have signed an MOU agreeing that at least one module of the SMR project will be used power production to support INL’s energy needs.

Through JUMP program, INL-DOE will also have an unprecedented opportunity to conduct research within an operating commercial reactor environment. In addition to RD&D opportunities, the JUMP Program will allow INL-DOE to explore the potential for secure, hardened microgrids and the use of nuclear energy beyond the electricity sector, including applications that could contribute to economic growth and national security.

Canada is pushing hard to develop its SMR strategy?  What’s your view of their progress?

Canada is a very attractive market to NuScale, with a long history of world-leading nuclear operations, a strong supply chain for nuclear power, and a world class regulator. The Canadian Small Modular Reactor Roadmap estimates the global export market at $115 billion annually from 2030 through 2040.

NuScale is actively undertaking efforts to introduce our scalable, economic, carbon-free, and safe reactor to Canadian customers. By adding the reliable, flexible carbon-free energy we can provide to complement solar and wind, NuScale can make a real difference as Canada works to reduce its carbon emissions in the coming years.

NuScale has signed a service agreement with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to submit an application under the CNSC’s Vendor Design Review process in 2019. NuScale expects to make its first submittal by the end of 2019.

NuScale’s MOUs with leading private and public sector nuclear entities in Canada – including Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG) and Bruce Power – provides great momentum for our efforts to introduce our scalable, economic, carbon-free, and safe reactor to Canadian customers.

NuScale supports SMR Start’s recommendations regarding U.S.-Canadian governmental collaboration to ensure that clean energy policies recognize and value the contributions made by nuclear energy to achieve environmental, as well as the recommendation that the U.S. and Canadian regulatory agencies cooperate to streamline regulatory reviews of SMR designs across the two countries.

About Jose N. Reyes, Ph.D.

nuscale logoJose N. Reyes, Ph.D., is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of NuScale Power, and the co-designer of the NuScale passively-cooled small nuclear reactor. An internationally recognized expert on passive safety system design, testing and operations for nuclear power plants, Dr. Reyes has served as a technical expert at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and as an engineer with the Reactor Safety Division of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). He is Professor Emeritus in the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering at Oregon State University, where he taught for more than 30 years and served as head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics.

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3 Responses to Interview with NuScale’s Jose Reyes

  1. Pingback: Interview with NuScale CEO Jose Reyes - Neutron Bytes - Pro-Nuclear Power Blogs - Nuclear Street - Nuclear Power Plant News, Jobs, and Careers

  2. Maury Markowitz says:

    “flexible” – what is the throttling of the NuScale like,and why? This is a big problem with CANDU.

    Like

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