Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves first small modular reactor design in the U.S.

Nuscale Power Plant

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued its final rule in the Federal Register to certify NuScale Power’s small modular reactor (SMR). This marks a significant milestone for the nuclear industry as it is the first SMR design to be certified by the NRC, and just the seventh reactor design to be cleared for use in the United States.

SMRs are no longer an abstract concept

Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dr. Kathryn Huff.

The rule takes effect on February 21, 2023 and will equip the nation with a new clean power source that will help drive down emissions across the country. The published final rule making allows utilities to reference NuScale’s SMR design when applying for a combined license to build and operate a reactor.

NuScale’s VOYGR™ SMR power plant is an advanced light-water SMR with each power module capable of generating 50 megawatts of emissions-free electricity. The power plant can house up to 12 factory-built power modules, which are about a third of the size of a large-scale reactor. Each power module leverages natural processes, such as convection and gravity, to passively cool the reactor without additional water, power, or even operator action.

The NRC accepted NuScale’s SMR design certification application in March 2018 and issued its final technical review in August 2020. The NRC Commission later voted to certify the design on July 29, 2022, making it the first SMR approved by the NRC for use in the United States.

NuScale is currently seeking an uprate to enable each module to generate up to 77 megawatts. The NRC is expected to review their application this year. The U.S. Department Energy has provided more than $600 million since 2014 to support the design, licensing, and siting of NuScale’s VOYGR SMR power plant and other domestic SMR concepts.

NuScale Power has 19 signed and active domestic and international agreements to deploy SMR plants in 12 different countries, including Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Jordan in addition to the Carbon Free Power Project. The first module of the Carbon Free Power Project is expected to be operational by 2029 with full plant operation the following year.

Learn more about NuScale Power design certification process with the NRC_


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