The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said staff will begin reviewing most of NuScale Power’s application for standard design approval of the company’s 77 MWe/module small modular reactor (SMR) design. “The remainder of NRC staff’s review of the design will begin once the company provides additional details on a key safety topic,” NRC noted.

NuScale submitted its application on 1 January for the design, in which the reactor building holds up to six co-located pressurised-water reactor modules. The modules use natural, “passive” processes such as convection and gravity in operating systems and safety features. The modules, providing a total output of approximately 460 MWe, are submerged in a pool built below ground level. “NRC staff has concluded the majority of NuScale’s application supports the start of review activities.” However, “portions of the application, discussing steam generator safety performance under certain conditions, require additional information”. Once NuScale provides that information, NRC said the staff will develop a full review schedule.

NuScale said the application is based on its VOYGR-6 (six-module) power plant configuration powered by an uprated 250 MWt (77 MWe) SMR design. “The design reflected in this application features the same fundamental safety case and passive safety features approved by the NRC in 2020, with a focus on the power uprate and select design changes to support customers’ capacity needs and further improve economics.”

The start of the review “brings us closer to another important regulatory milestone and the commercialisation our SMR technology”, said NuScale President & CEO John Hopkins. “We look forward to working alongside the NRC toward the achievement of our second design approval.”

Image: The NuScale design, complete with its steam-turbine generator (courtesy of NuScale)