Westinghouse Electric Company says it has submitted the first set of Vendor Design Review (VDR) documents to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for its eVinci microreactor. The VDR is not a required part of the licensing process for a new nuclear power plant, but aims to verify the acceptability of a design with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations. Its purpose is to enable early identification and resolution of potential regulatory and technical issues as the eVinci technology advances through the design process.

Westinghouse applied to CNSC in 2018 for a VDR of the eVinci and a service agreement was signed with CNSC in September 2022, initiating the process. The three phases of the VDR process involve a pre-licensing assessment of compliance with regulatory requirements; an assessment of potential fundamental barriers to licensing; and a follow-up phase in which the vendor can respond to findings from the second phase.

Westinghouse is executing both Phases 1 and 2 of the VDR as a combined programme. It has provided four Phase 1 Focus Area submissions to CNSC and, overall, more than 40 submissions will be filed during Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the VDR process.

In addition, Westinghouse plans to submit reports for joint review under the Memorandum of Cooperation between the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the CNSC. The reports will focus on selected design aspects of the eVinci microreactor with the primary objective of establishing alignment and a common understanding on regulatory expectations.

In February this year, Westinghouse filed a Notice of Intent to submit key licensing reports for eVinci to the NRC and the CNSC for joint review including a common set of key requirements for the classification of systems, structures and components for the microreactor. This will enable deployment of a standard design in both the USA and Canada.

In December 2021, Westinghouse submitted a pre-application regulatory engagement plan (REP) to NRC for the microreactor, outlining planned pre-licensing application interactions. A REP supports early interactions with NRC staff and can reduce regulatory uncertainty and add predictability to licensing advanced technologies.

Jon Ball, Westinghouse President for eVinci Microreactor says taking these first steps with the regulator marks an important milestone to accelerate development of the technology.

The eVinci microreactor is a transportable reactor that is fully factory built, fuelled and assembled, and capable of delivering combined heat (up to 13 MWt) and power (up to 5 MWe). Its small size allows for standard transportation methods and rapid, on-site deployment, with superior reliability and minimal maintenance, making it suitable for use in remote locations. It will use TRISO fuel. It is one of several advanced reactor designs being supported through ARDP to help accelerate the development and deployment of new reactor technologies.


Image: Rendering of an eVinci microreactor site (courtesy of Westinghouse)