NRC approves Westinghouse's testing approach for SMR

19 March 2015

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved Westinghouse's testing approach for the Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor (SMR) design.

Westinghouse says the approval is a "significant step toward design certification" and will reduce the time ultimately needed to license the reactor.

In a letter dated 27 February 2015, the NRC told Westinghouse that it has granted a Safety Evaluation Report (SER) for the licensing topical report that the company submitted in April 2012.

The topical report, developed by a panel of experts inside and outside of Westinghouse, identified what would occur in the unlikely event of a small-break loss of coolant accident (LOCA) in the Westinghouse SMR. It also defined the test programme that Westinghouse will conduct in the future to prove that its safety systems would safely shut down the reactor in response to a small-break LOCA.

Westinghouse senior vice president, new plants and major projects, Jeff Benjamin said Westinghouse believes the NRC action confirms the technical maturity of the Westinghouse SMR concept design.

"A key benefit of the Westinghouse SMR design is that it is based on the solid foundation of the AP1000 plant development programme. This programme has involved many years of testing and analysis, which can be successfully applied to advance our SMR programme as the market for the technology matures in the future," Benjamin said.

The Westinghouse SMR is a 225MWe integral pressurised water reactor with all primary components located inside of the reactor vessel. It is derived from the AP1000 plant, which received a design certification from the US NRC in January 2006.

Photo: Westinghouse SMR

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