The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) said NuScale Power had recently installed a new simulation laboratory at the Centre for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
The centre is located some 50 miles east from where the company’s first commercial small modular reactor (SMR) plant is expected to be built and will provide users a hands-on experience in operating the company’s SMR plant.
The new SMR simulation laboratory puts researchers and operators behind the computer screens of NuScale’s virtual control room. It allows users to observe the power plant’s responses based on their input and will help facilitate research into human factors engineering, human-system interface design, advanced diagnostics, cyber security, and plant control room automation.
“Having advanced reactor simulators at locations around the country provides opportunities for students, researchers, operators, and the public to better understand how the next generation of nuclear reactors can operate,” said Suibel Schuppner, director of DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy Technologies. “These simulators, along with other DOE efforts, will play a significant role in developing the next generation of advanced reactor operators and the nuclear workforce.”
NuScale partnered with the University of Idaho on the project through a $286,000 grant from DOE's Nuclear Energy University Programme (NEUP) to advance SMR research and help train the future workforce. The SMR simulation lab is the second of three planned Energy Exploration Centres by NuScale, which will be utilised by Idaho National Laboratory, the University of Idaho, Idaho State University, and Boise State University. The first reactor simulator was installed at Oregon State University in 2020. A third facility will be built at Texas A&M. DOE has invested more than $400 million since 2014 in order to accelerate the development and deployment of SMRs.
NuScale’s technology is the world’s first and only SMR to undergo design certification review by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The NRC is scheduled to complete its review of NuScale’s design within the year.