NRC approves NuScale I&C security system; Holtec, SNC-Lavalin accelerate SMR-160 program

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NuScale's HIPS security platform uses four module types which can be interconnected in multiple configurations to support a variety of safety systems. (Image credit: hywards)

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US NRC approves NuScale's modular plant protection platform

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved NuScale's Highly Integrated Protection System [HIPS] Platform for use in plant safety-related instrumentation and control (I&C) systems, NuScale said in a statement.

NuScale plant to use the HIPs platform in its Integral Pressurized Water Reactor (IPWR) small modular reactor (SMR) design. Earlier this year, the NRC began the full certification review of NuScale's IPWR, the U.S.' first full safety review of an SMR design.

The HIPS protection system architecture was jointly developed by NuScale Power and Rock Creek Innovations over a period of six years.

The platform is based on the fundamental I&C design principles of independence, redundancy, predictability, repeatability and defense-in-depth. The HIPS platform is comprised of four module types which can be interconnected in multiple configurations to support various types of reactor safety systems.

The HIPs platform "also uses field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology that is not vulnerable to internet cyber-attacks," NuScale said.

Last month, Senator Edward Markey called for U.S. federal government departments to demonstrate sufficient cyber security measures are in place at U.S. nuclear power plants, following media reports of security breaches.

The New York Times reported a persistent cyber security threat targeted personnel working for nuclear plant operators and manufacturers of plant control systems, citing a classified report by the Department of Homeland Security. Bloomberg reported that the chief suspect in these attacks was Russia, which is also suspected of disrupting energy infrastructure in Ukraine.

NuScale’s Integral Pressurized Water Reactor (IPWR) is based on light water reactor (LWR) technology and the first plant of 600 MW will be delivered to power cooperative Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and operated by Energy Northwest, a regional power supplier. The plant will be situated on a site within the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and is expected to be fully operational by 2026.

Holtec, SNC-Lavalin agree to accelerate SMR development

U.S.' Holtec International and Canadian engineering and construction group SNC-Lavalin have agreed to "vigorously accelerate" the development of Holtec’s SMR-160 Small Modular Reactor design, the companies announced in a statement.

Under the terms of the agreement, SNC-Lavalin will initially provide Holtec with a range of nuclear engineering services and will support the licensing of the SMR-160 reactor.

Holtec has already submitted the SMR-160 design to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The design is currently in the Pre-Application phase, according to the NRC's website.

SNC-Lavalin’s Nuclear team, based in Mississauga, Ontario, specializes in the design and supply of nuclear reactors and reactor products and services. SNC-Lavalin has decades of experience in deploying, updating and maintaining CANDU plants. In 2011, the group acquired the commercial reactor division of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, along with the development and marketing rights to CANDU reactor technology.

"We know that the global nuclear market for safe, economic nuclear power continues to grow,” Preston Swafford, SNC-Lavalin’s Chief Nuclear Officer and Executive Vice-President – Nuclear, said.

“Partnering with Holtec in the SMR-160 brings us a ‘walk away safe’ reactor design that will deliver a clean, affordable, reliable electricity supply around the world, satisfying regional and national power needs,” he said.

According to Holtec, the SMR-160 is "economically attractive" and can be used in remote locations, in areas with limited water supplies and in industrial applications.

A number of advanced nuclear reactor developers are targeting the Canadian market, where the risk-informed regulatory framework is considered more supportive for licensing new designs than in the U.S. and where numerous remote communities and industrial facilities represent captive electricity consumers.

The Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has called for Expressions of Interest from Small Modular Reactor (SMR) developers and plans to begin the generic site selection and licensing process for Canada’s first demonstration reactor later this year, CNL said in a statement June 1.

Ontario Power Generation [OPG] plans to fill a predicted supply gap in the 2030s with new nuclear capacity and the utility is collaborating with Saskatchewan on the potential for a Pan-Canadian fleet of Small Modular Reactors, Nicolle Butcher, OPG's Vice President of Strategy & Acquisitions, said at the International SMR and Advanced Reactor Summit 2017 in March.

While Ontario's clean energy initiatives have supported major refurbishments of OPG’s large-scale nuclear plants, uncertainty over long-term demand trends and a need for shorter development timeframes support SMR build, Butcher said.

                Potential SMR deployment timeline in Ontario

                                                    (Click image to enlarge)

Source: Ontario Ministry of Energy's 'SMR Deployment Feasibility Study' (2016).

Amec Foster Wheeler to lead UK nuclear digital design project

Engineering and construction services group Amec Foster Wheeler is to lead a 2.9 million-pound ($3.8 million) UK research project to develop digital techniques to advance reactor design and operations and maintenance (O&M), the company said in a statement.

Amec Foster Wheeler will set up and run a UK Digital Reactor Design partnership that will use virtual engineering and high-performance computing to improve reactor design techniques and operational performance. The funding will be provided by the UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and research partners will include the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre, the Hartree Centre, National Nuclear Laboratory, Rolls-Royce, EDF Energy, the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London.

"The project is part of a broader effort to put UK industry at the forefront of developing Generation IV and small modular reactors," Amec Foster Wheeler said.

"The aim is to achieve a step change in the way that nuclear design, development and construction programs are delivered," it said.

Last month, the UK's Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) opened a new modular manufacturing research and development (R&D) facility, at Birkenhead in North West England.

The new center, situated on a site owned by Nuclear AMRC member Cammell Laird, has over 1,000 square metres of workshop space and will host specialized machining, joining and assembly equipment to develop and test modular manufacturing techniques. The facility will be used to research modular techniques for new reactors of all sizes and develop modular techniques to improve decommissioning and waste management efficiency.

Concurrent Technologies to lead US advanced manufacturing research

Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC), a non-profit applied scientific research group, is to operate a new research center to conduct design and manufacturing analysis for small modular reactor (SMR) and advanced reactor models and prototype new component designs.

The Center for Advanced Nuclear Manufacturing (CANM) concept has been developed by the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council’s (NIC) Manufacturing and Supply Chain Working Group.

According to the project partners, there is a "critical gap" of proven applied advanced manufacturing technologies required to support the wider deployment of new reactor designs.

The NIC selected CTC to lead the project based on its long track record in advanced manufacturing, its significant testing resources and its "experience in key technologies including additive manufacturing, casting [and] cybersecurity for manufacturing," Vince Gilbert, Senior Fellow, NIC, said.

"CANM will support the U.S. nuclear industry’s need to reduce acquisition and total ownership costs by developing and transitioning innovative manufacturing solutions," CTC said in a statement.

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