With global interest in small modular reactors growing, US-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF), Holtec International and SMR Inventec have agreed to collaborate to advance the SMR-160, a single loop, 160MWe pressurised light water reactor based on existing light water technologies. GNF, a GE-led joint venture with Hitachi and Toshiba, is primarily known as a supplier of boiling water reactor fuel. SMR LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Holtec established in 2011 to manage the development of the SMR-160.
The companies agreed to enter into a procompetitive collaboration to progress the SMR-160 which SMR LLC intends to develop, design, license, commercialise, deploy and service globally. The cooperation will initially include nuclear fuel development supported by GNF and control rod drive mechanisms designed by GEH, and may later extend to other areas.
Holtec President and CEO Dr Kris Singh said: “SMR-160 has prioritised safety in its design, to produce a right-sized, passively safe and cost-effective solution for carbon-free energy. This collaboration will ensure the SMR-160 supply chain, to deliver and fabricate critical SMR-160 technologies and components, including at our new Advanced Manufacturing Division in Camden, New Jersey.”
On 31 January, SMR LCC submitted a proposal to the US Department of Energy (DOE) with support from GEH and GNF, among others, in response to funding opportunity announcement DE-FOA-0001817. The “Integral and Separate Effects Test Program for the Investigation and Validation of Passive Safety System Performance of SMRs” project would yield a set of testing platforms to demonstrate passive safety system performance, accelerate the SMR-160 and other small modular reactor designs to market and help license these designs. GEH and GNF will support phenomena assessments, scaling analyses, safety analysis system code assessment and benchmarking and identification of recommended experimental tests.
The SMR-160 project was selected by DOE in 2012 as one of three SMR projects to be demonstrated potentially at its Savannah River site in South Carolina. The NRC is carrying out pre-application activities on the reactor design. In July 2017, Holtec signed a teaming agreement with Canada's SNC-Lavalin to collaborate on the SMR-160. SNC-Lavalin will provide Holtec with a range of nuclear engineering services, including support for the licensing of the reactor.
Holtec has previously secured engineering, design and qualification support for the SMR-160 project from the Shaw Group and URS Corporation, and has a strategic alliance with utility PSEG Power, operator of three nuclear units at Salem and Hope Creek in New Jersey. In August 2015, Mitsubishi Electric Power Products signed a long-term partnership agreement with Holtec to develop the instrumentation and control systems for the SMR-160.
Holtec is also reportedly considering the possibility of installing SMR-160 reactors in Ukraine, Ukrinform reported on 5 February, citing the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States Valery Chaly. "I can now say, but so far it is cautious, that the possibility of joint production of small modular reactors in Ukraine is being considered," Chaly reportedly said. He added that Holtec President Kris Singh is looking at three possible places to realise the project - India, the USA and Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is launching an effort to expand international cooperation and coordination in the design, development and deployment of SMRs. With around 50 SMR concepts at various stages of development around the world, the IAEA is forming a Technical Working Group to guide its activities on SMRs. It would also provide a forum for member states to share information and knowledge, IAEA Deputy Director General Mikhail Chudakov said on 15 February. “Many Member States that are operating, expanding, introducing or considering nuclear power are quite keen on the development and deployment of SMRs.” The TWG, comprising some 20 IAEA member states and international organisations, is scheduled to meet for the first time in April at the IAEA’s headquarters in Vienna.
Photo: Layout of the Holtec SMR-160