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NuScale Power submits industry-first certification application for small modular reactor to NRC

NuScale Power formally announced the submittal of a Design Certification Application (DCA) for their innovative small modular reactor (SMR) design (earlier post) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for their review and approval. This is the first SMR DCA to be submitted to the NRC and marks a significant milestone for NuScale and the power generation industry.

NuScale’s application consisted of nearly 12,000 pages of technical information. The NRC is expected to take the next two months to determine if any additional information is required prior to commencing their review. Thereafter, the NRC has targeted completing the certification process within 40 months.

Once approved, the certified NuScale SMR will be available to domestic and international customers to be licensed for construction and operation.

The first commercial 12-module NuScale power plant is planned to be built on the site of the Idaho National Laboratory. It will be owned by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and run by an experienced nuclear operator, Energy Northwest.

As the sole winner of the second round of the DOE’s competitively-bid cost-sharing program for SMR technology development, NuScale is the only SMR developer currently receiving DOE financial support.

Without the leadership, vision and support of the U.S. DOE, our technology design, development, testing and license application could not have proceeded to this point.

—Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Jose Reyes

Estimates predict approximately 55-75 GW of global electricity will come from SMRs by 2035, equivalent to more than 1,000 NuScale Power Modules.

The fully factory-fabricated NuScale Power Module is an integral reactor vessel surrounded by a high pressure steel containment, which when coupled to its factory-fabricated power generation equipment can produce 50 megawatts of electricity.


A NuScale power plant can house up to 12 of these modules for a total facility output of 600 megawatts (gross). The scalability afforded by the modular design allows customers to incrementally increase facility output to match demand.

The NuScale Power Module is premised on well-established nuclear technology principles with a focus on integration of components, simplification or elimination of systems, and use of passive safety features resulting in highly reliable operation underpinned by an extremely strong safety case and unparalleled asset protection, making it suitable to be sited at locations closer to where electricity or process heat are needed.

The technology’s operational flexibility can also be integrated with other carbon-free renewable energy sources like wind and solar to provide consistent power and to help enable stable grid performance.



This is great news. I hope that the Design Certification process proceeds in a timely manner. It is also good to see that they have the first 12 units pre-sold and that they will be going into a current nuclear site. There is no scale on the drawing but I assume that these reactors can be moved as a complete assembly by truck or train.

There was some information on these reactors and other new reactor technology in a recent PBS Nova program. I also hope that TerraPower’s Generation IV traveling wave reactor (TWR) makes it to market shortly. The TWR will burn natural uranium, depleted uranium and even spent nuclear fuel leaving very little waste.


"NRC has targeted completing the certification process within 40 months"
I get the need for time to review 12,000 pages thoroughly. But, it is frustrating to know how long the lead time is. Solar, Wind, and Wave/Tide may obviate the need for nuclear before it goes into place. I know those are all produce very small proportions of our electricity now, but who knows what will develop in 4.5 years.

Nick Lyons

Great news. NuScale is the real deal. Small modular reactors will finally get a real-world proof point.


Are 12+ smaller reactors, co-located in the same place, inherently safer than one larger 600 to 720 Mega watts unit?

As more and more people (in all countries) are moving into large cities, is 50 MW rather small or too small to meet requirements? OTOH, it could be ideal to meet steady off peak demand?

Factory mass production of smaller transportable 50 MW units could reduce total cost per KW and time to implement. Secondly, it could reduce the need for massive storage of REs.


HarveyD: Yes, 12 of these are safer than one larger unit as each unit is inherently a "walk away safe" unit. If every thing else fails, the unit will just power down without a thermal run away. Also, as they can be factory built, it is less likely that there will be a construction error. I did look up the size. They are about 15 ft diameter and 70 ft long so they are an oversize load but not an impossible to move load by rail or truck.

As these would be expected to have an availability of greater than 95%, each 50 MW unit should be able to replace about 200 1.5 MW wind turbines without requiring energy storage or backup generation.

Nick Lyons

What sd said. Aside from meteor strike, there is no credible way to cause these units to melt down.

One of the big benefits of SMRs is that they promise to reduce the financial risk of building a nuclear plant. Less $$ to finance, shorter construction times, incremental plant ramp up, factory mass production, less risk all around. The benefits really kick in with the nth-of-a-kind project, when everything has become cookbook and efficient mass production has kicked in.

Dr. Strange Love

The Nuscale SMR has spent fuel uranium plutonium oxide (MOX fuel) capability. Bill Gates TerraPower also uses spent fuels. China is getting the 1st build of the Tera design soon.

Joseph Wilder

I didn't see anything about nuclear waste. Where's it going to go? and How?


Nuclear waste is now an energy supply. Uk Sellafield waste plutonium depository is installing the GE-Hitachi Prism liquid sodium fast reactor. The technology is SMR constructed and the output is 622 MWe, but the machine can utilize the nuclear waste as fuel. It's waste is very marginal with just a few hundred year life. This depository of plutonium fuel could provide the power needed by UK for 100 years. The Fast reactor technology acheives 100x more power out of nuclear fuel as compared to our current fleet.

The product is the result of U.S. taxpayer paid research, but the U.S. apparently not interested. Richard Branson urged Obama to reconsider given the state of the art improvements and benefits.


It is significant attempt to restart nuclear power. I still believe most promising design would be breeder type generation IV SMR reactor proposed by GEN4. That would be solution for spent fuel (including existing reserves).
My question is what NRC is going look into for 40 months (probably much longer)?. They are going sort those 12 000 pages in right order?
It would be cheaper build deep underground facility (use some abandoned mine) and start testing SMRs one by one and see how they behave in real world conditions. In that case worst situations could be tested and recommendations developed. In other case it just bureaucratic imitation of some activity.

Thomas Lankester

That is quite a claim!
Could you provide a link please? Last I heard the creation of MOX fuel for conventional 3rd gen PWRs was the UK government favoured option with not decision on the Pu stockpile imminent.

Dr. Strange Love

40 months is excessive. China has the greatest interest and expediency. Real life testing there and elsewhere will help. The liquid sodium setup at Argonne Idaho ran for 20 years or so before it was shutdown in the late 70s or 80s. It works. Also the Fluoride based liquid/solid Salt designs are promising.


PRISM could be installed at Savannah River to use weapons plutonium waste for fuel. We have 700,000 tons of depleted uranium from enrichment that can be used as fuel along with the plutonium.

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