GE Energy’s nuclear business has submitted its design certification application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the ESBWR reactor design.

The 7500-page application was delivered to the NRC on 24 August. GE said it expects final design approval by late 2006, with design certification following soon after. If all goes according to GE’s plans, formal construction of an ESBWR could begin in 2010, with commercial operation in 2014.

GE describes the 1500MWe ESBWR (economic simplified boiling water reactor) as a Generation III+ design with passive safety features. The company claims that the reactor’s total reliance on natural circulation for normal plant operations as well as passive safety systems makes it the “most advanced, passive Generation III+ reactor to be presented to the NRC for final approval.”

The ESBWR design has been chosen by two consortia applying for a combined construction and operating licence (COL) in the USA. The largest consortium, NuStart, will shortly announce two sites for COL applications: one site for the ESBWR and one for the Westinghouse AP1000 design, which has already received NRC final design approval. A separate Dominion-led consortium originally planned on applying to get a COL for AECL’s ACR-700, but dissolved its partnership with AECL Technologies in January this year, switching to the ESBWR design.

In addition, one of the NuStart members, Tennessee Valley Authority, has formed its own consortium to apply to build an ABWR at its Bellefonte site. A decision on whether to proceed depends on whether NuStart selects Bellefonte as one of its two sites.

The 1350MWe ABWR (advanced boiling water reactor) is also a GE design, which received NRC certification in 1997. GE said the ESBWR has evolved from the ABWR design and incorporates many of its features, including its advanced digital monitoring and controls technology and construction techniques.

Related Articles
Russia and USA both call for extradition of former Russian nuclear minister