ARC Nuclear Canada has completed the first of three phases of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) Vendor Design Review (VDR) for its ARC-100 small modular reactor (SMR).
The phase 1 assessment provides feedback about the vendor’s understanding of the CNSC’s requirements but does not certify the design or licence the reactor. The ARC-100 is the third advanced reactor to complete the first phase of the CNSC VDR.
The ARC-100 is a 100MWe integrated sodium-cooled fast reactor with a metallic uranium alloy core. The design is based on the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II) fast reactor prototype which operated at the USA's Argonne National Laboratory from 1961 to 1994. ARC Nuclear signed an agreement with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy in March 2017 to collaborate on the development and licensing of an SMR using proprietary technology from GEH's PRISM reactor, which is also based on the EBR-II.
The three phases of Canada's vendor design review include a prelicensing assessment of compliance with regulatory requirements, an assessment of potential fundamental barriers to licensing, and a follow-up phase allowing the vendor to respond to findings from the phase 2. Phase 1 typically takes 12–18 months and phase 2 takes 24 months. CNSC's review of the ARC-100 started in September 2017. CNSC said four packages of 19 focus areas were included in the technical review, along with familiarisation sessions, requests for additional information, and technical discussions. CNSC said the VDR showed that ARC needs to provide additional information on its management system processes and research and development programme before it can proceed to phase 2.
"ARC understands and has interpreted correctly the high-level intent of the CNSC's regulatory requirements for the design of nuclear power plants in Canada," CNSC noted. "In some cases, due to the unique characteristics of the design, ARC is proposing alternative approaches and methodologies to address the underlying intent of CNSC regulatory requirements." However, any issues are foreseen to be “resolvable” and will be addressed in future engagement with the CNSC.
ARC Canada’s president and CEO, Norman Sawyer said: “This achievement demonstrates to potential clients like New Brunswick, other Canadian Provinces and global markets, that we are truly a leader in SMR technology for the ever-growing energy sector."
He added: "We believe that our technology, with its prototype proven and its performance documented by over three decades of successful operation, will make a major contribution to the world’s growing demand for safe, low-cost, clean and reliable energy. We believe that ARC Canada’s ability to provide Canada’s regulatory body with data that comes from decades of operating experience is a key attribute that sets the ARC-100 design apart from its competitors.”
ARC said New Brunswick provides the key success elements for the development of the ARC-100 technology in Canada. Sawyer pointed to a “tremendous opportunity" for the manufacturing sector, academia and workforce as it builds a sustainable supply chain that will export the ARC-100 technology”.
Photo: ARC-100 reactor (Credit: ARC Canada)