Framatome ANP launched a fast-track effort on 24 March to get Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) design certification for a US version of its flagship European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR).

At its first pre-application meeting with the NRC in Rockville, Maryland, Ray Ganthner, Framatome ANP senior vice president for new plant deployment, and other company officials stressed that Framatome ANP intends to submit its formal design certification application by late 2007 with the goal of designing, licensing and building a fleet of US EPRs. “This is not a research project, a foreign marketing strategy, or an academic exercise for Framatome ANP or the NRC,” said Sandra Sloan, manager of regulatory affairs for new reactor deployment.

Framatome ANP already is engaged in talks with several US utilities, Ganthner said. So far, only Duke Power has publicly acknowledged the discussions, identifying the EPR as one of three designs it is considering for a combined construction and operating licence in its 14 March meeting with the NRC.

In recognition of recent NRC concerns that the agency could become overextended if confronted with a deluge of unfamiliar reactor designs, Framatome ANP manager of advanced light water reactor programmes Rick Bonsall emphasised that the US EPR is an evolutionary design based on proven technology and global experience. However, the US design team, headquartered Lynchburg, Virginia, is completely reworking the European design to meet all US codes, standards, regulatory and utility market requirements.

The team will use NRC quality assurance requirements, and NRC-approved computer codes and methods for safety and fuel analyses. It is this revamped EPR that NRC will be asked to certify for use in the USA.

The length of the pre-application period is being driven by the engineering work required for US design conversion and the development of a high-quality submittal for the converted design, Sloan said. The most elaborate conversions – and the largest engineering investments – will be required by differences in the electrical distribution system in the USA and Europe, Ganthner said. The European system is based on a 50Hz, two-bus system; the US system is based on a 60Hz, three-bus system.