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Nuclear micro reactor designs underway

Two different micro nuclear reactor designs are underway with faster deployment and longer fuel cycles.

Designing the reactors is SMR developer NuScale, who are pioneering a 720MW small modular reactor project in Idaho, is set to establish SMR technology in the commercial power sector and open up new opportunities for developers.

Tom Mundy, the chief commercial officer of NuScale Power, revealed the plans at the International SMR and Advanced Reactor Summit.

NuScale plans to deliver the first commercial SMR plant in the US to power cooperative Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) by 2026-27. The plant will consist of 12 light water reactor modules of 60MW capacity and will be built on an Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site.

In December, INL agreed to use two of the modules to test and optimise revenue streams from non-electricity applications, providing valuable data on wider SMR deployment potential. Read: Anticipating new design for nuclear power

The plan is on schedule to receive design licence approval by September 2020 and the company is now looking to expand its SMR design portfolio to access new markets.

NuScale is developing the conceptual design for a 10 to 50MW micro power module and a smaller 1 to 10 MW heat pipe reactor, Tom Mundy, the company’s chief commercial officer, told the conference in Atlanta on 2 April.

The micro power module design is “more developed” than the heat pipe reactor and builds on the SMR technology being deployed at the UAMPS project, Mundy said.

The micro-reactor would be targeted at small power grids, remote and off-grid communities, off-grid industrial facilities including mining sites, and military installations.

Applications for the heat pipe reactor would include remote off-grid communities with seasonal fuel delivery challenges, remote mining operations with shorter lifespans, temporary power for disaster relief and even space travel.

“We have a significant body of [intellectual property] that can be applied in our R&D organisation … we will be announcing more information on [these micro-reactor concepts] in the near-term,” Mundy said.