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NuScale boosts SMR module output 25%

NuScale Power announced that through further value engineering efforts, using advanced testing and modeling tools, NuScale analyzed and concluded that the NuScale Power Module (NPM) can generate an additional 25% more power per module for a total of 77 MWe per module (gross), resulting in about 924 MWe for the flagship 12-module power plant.

Additionally, NuScale is announcing options for smaller power plant solutions in four-module (about 308 MWe) and six-module (about 462 MWe) sizes.

Increasing the power generating capacity of a 12-module NuScale small modular reactor (SMR) plant by an additional 25% lowers the overnight capital cost of the facility on a per kilowatt basis from an expected $3,600 to approximately $2,850. Furthermore, the scalable, 12-module power plant will now approach a size that makes it a true competitor for the gigawatt-size market. The increased power output comes without any major changes to the NPM technology.

The smaller power plant solutions will give NuScale customers more options in terms of size, power output, operational flexibility and cost. They will also have a smaller and innovative footprint with a focus on simplifying construction, reducing construction duration (schedule) and lowering costs.

This new solution allows NuScale to support a larger cross-section of customer needs including power for small grids such as for island nations; remote off-grid communities; industrial and government facilities; and coal power replacements that require less power and help customers meet clean air mandates.

The regulatory process of increasing the level of maximum reactor power at which a nuclear plant can operate is referred to as a power uprate. The power increase will be reviewed by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission as part of NuScale’s Standard Design Approval (SDA) application, which NuScale is scheduled to submit in 2022.

NuScale’s initial new products will be a four- and six-module power plant solution, although other configurations are possible. These smaller plant solutions are economically competitive and are underpinned by and leverage the NPM technology and safety case that has already been approved by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Like the flagship NuScale power plant, these smaller configurations will retain the capability to deliver scalable power plant solutions with features, capability and performance not found in other SMRs.

NuScale will be able to deliver its first module to a client in 2027.

NuScale Power has developed a new modular light water reactor nuclear power plant to supply energy for electrical generation, district heating, desalination, and other process heat applications. This small modular reactor (SMR) design features a fully factory-fabricated NuScale Power Module capable of generating 77 MW of electricity using a safer, smaller, and scalable version of pressurized water reactor technology.

Reactor-module

Features of the NuScale Power Module include:

  • No AC or DC power for safe shutdown and cooling: The NuScale plant’s non-reliance on AC or DC power for safety has greatly simplified the electrical systems including a unique arrangement of battery arrays that increases DC power reliability for post-accident monitoring systems.

  • Helical Coil Steam Generators (HCSG): The use of compact HCSGs provides increased heat transfer surface area in a small volume with very low pressure drop to maximize natural circulation flow. The once-through counter-flow design enables the generation of steam superheat and good thermal efficiency without the use of reactor coolant pumps.

  • High strength steel containment immersed in the cooling pool: The NuScale containment acts as a heat exchanger to provide reactor cooling and pressure control, eliminating the requirement for containment spray systems for cooling.

  • Maintaining containment in a vacuum limits heat exchange during normal operation: The NuScale containment vacuum minimizes reactor vessel heat loss, limits oxygen content, and prevents component corrosion, eliminating the requirement for physical reactor vessel insulation and hydrogen recombiners.

  • Small, efficient core design limits source term: The NuScale reactor has 1/20 of the nuclear fuel of a large scale reactor. Its small decay heat, inherent stability, and reactor physics eliminates fuel damage in all design basis events including those with failure of all control rods to insert. For beyond design basis events, radiation from fuel damage is below safe limits at the plant site boundary.

  • Digital Instrumentation & Control (I&C): NuScale’s proprietary field programmable gate array digital I&C system provides comprehensive monitoring and control of all plant systems in a single control room. The control room layout and panels are being designed using a state-of-the-art simulator as part of a comprehensive human factors engineering and human system interface.

The majority investor in NuScale is Fluor Corporation, a global engineering, procurement, and construction company with a 60-year history in commercial nuclear power.

Comments

Davemart

This sort of technology moves a low carbon society much nearer.
For nuclear energy of major importance to the economics is the advance of hydrogen and electrolysis technology.

This means that money can be made when demand is low, instead of the plant being idled.

Early nuclear plants such as those in the US could not be throttled back, and so were only suitable for base load.

All modern designs are flexible, but the high cost of build versus running costs mean that it is uneconomic to use them other than for base load.

If hydrogen can be produced by efficient high temperature electrolysis when other demand is low the economics are way better.

mahonj

Well done Nuscale.
I wonder how much further they could push it ?
100 MW?
I suppose the question is how quickly can they pump them out, and get them in service.

Davemart

The new small reactor designs are to be factory built and delivered to site.
No reason they can't be produced in as large a quantity as required, if the supposedly green innumerates don't manage their usual blocking measures, in wanton disregard of tackling climate change.

sd

This is really good news. I hope that our new administration can see their way to push this new technology. And, yes, if you want to make hydrogen, high temperature electrolysis using nuclear power is probably the most efficient technique. Maybe, we can build a new clean and green integrated steel facility using hydrogen and nuclear power.

Engineer-Poet

Imagine, the basic unit started at 50 MW(e).  This is the SECOND uprate.

gryf

Good comments.
From Forbes magazine article, 8/17/2020 What Will A Biden-Harris Administration Do For Nuclear Energy? "Biden’s plan calls for development of small modular reactors, specifically because SMRs are ideal for load-following or backing up wind, even better than natural gas. The Plan calls for “leveraging the carbon-pollution free energy provided by existing sources like nuclear and hydropower.”
So let's hope the NuScale reactor moves forward on a fast path. When I worked at Southern Company during the 1970's I could see that the custom approach to Nuclear Power was too costly (Plant Vogtle units 1 and 2 cost over $10 billion). Duke Power and France had the best approach then relying on a standard design. Today, the best plan is to use SMR.

Davemart

@gryf

I rarely disagree with you, but:

' SMRs are ideal for load-following or backing up wind, even better than natural gas.'

sounds a bit optimistic to me, at least in economic if not GHG emission terms.

They use NG because the build costs are so low, with the main cost being fuel, which of course other than for spinning reserve which is being phased out in favour of batteries means that you only incur the main cost when it is in use.

SMRs should be cheaper than the big custom jobs, but the main cost will still overwhelmingly be in the build, not in running them.

You don't want to be running any nuclear installation only 20% of the time.

I think it needs excess production when demand is slack to be channelled into hydrogen production for both nuclear and wind to square the circle.

gryf

That was a quote from Forbes/Biden Plan.
In France EDF ( Électricité de France) and Germany Nuclear Power Plants are operated in Load Following mode. Here is a quote from Power Magazine,4/1/2019,Flexible Operation of Nuclear Power Plants Ramps Up "According to the IAEA, the reason the French nuclear fleet—which today provides 75% of the country’s power—is so markedly flexible is because in the 1970s, it “correctly anticipated” that nuclear power would have to broadly participate in balancing of generation and demand."

Engineer-Poet

Which is silly.  The incremental cost of nuclear electric power is close to zero, as fuel is changed on a schedule rather than by burnup.  Failing to run the plant as much as possible is wasting money.  It makes more sense to find dump loads for excess power to at least extract some modicum of value from this capability than to waste it entirely.  As I've suggested before, using electric heat to replace the burning of fuel at the Total refineries is just one of the many ways to get more out of the capital investment of those plants.

As a bonus, such interruptible loads can make better use of "renewables" too.

gryf

Check out the NuScale website:
A NuScale plant, with its NuFollow™ load-following capability, has the means to change power at rates that can offset the reduction in intermittent generation to ensure grid stability, no matter the time of day, season, or the weather forecast. The unique features of a NuScale plant allow its modules to respond to meet the power generation demand in the evenings by increasing from 20% to 100% power in 96 minutes (significantly faster than conventional nuclear power).
(https://www.nuscalepower.com/newsletter/nucleus-winter-2019/nuscales-diverse-energy-platform)
It might be silly, but so are negative electric prices. So unless Public Utilities use a method to dump loads at a profit, e.g. H2, electric heat, pumped storage, etc. Load Following is a method to manage Load Dispatch.

gryf

E-P,
You said, fuel is changed on a schedule rather than by burnup.
Good point, Planned outages for refueling 1100 MW NPP are a major operation for public utilities. Shutting down a large NPP for a refuel outage lasts an average of about two months (reference:https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=1490). Since an SMR could schedule refuel outages by unit (77MW), a great advantage to the utility and could be closer to fuel burn usage.

Engineer-Poet

Refueling outages for US plants average a lot shorter than 2 months.  Watts Bar #1 did it in 27 days.

But you hint at something interesting, even if you phrased it unclearly.  Given the ability to run different units at different power levels, ones with fresh fuel could be used as the "swing" producers (high reactivity makes it easier to change power level quickly) and ones with more burned-up fuel could be operated to hit maximum burnup just in time for their refueling, getting the most out of every gram.  Units are refueled one at a time, so the unit coming back on-line becomes the new swing producer.  You might vary how many fuel loads you replace in a given maintenance interval.  For instance, a 12-pack plant operating on a nominal 4-year cycle would change about 3 cores a year, but you might be able to defer a change to the next outage if you're not consuming as much fuel as you expected.

Nuclear fuel is also compact, so it doesn't matter much if you order a new core that you wind up not needing for another 6 months.  It just means you order one less for the next refueling.

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