Canadian review of eVinci design begins

28 September 2022

Westinghouse Electric Company has signed a service agreement with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), initiating a pre-licensing vendor design review (VDR) of its eVinci microreactor design.

The eVinci (Image: Westinghouse)

The CNSC offers the VDR as an optional service to provide an assessment of a nuclear power plant design based on a vendor's reactor technology. It 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.

The three phases of the VDR process involve a pre-licensing assessment of compliance with regulatory requirements; an assessment of any potential fundamental barriers to licensing; and a follow-up phase allowing the vendor to respond to findings from the second phase.

Westinghouse applied in February 2018 to the CNSC for a VDR of the eVinci.

Although it typically takes a few months for the CNSC to establish and sign a service agreement, the CNSC said this time period can vary, depending on: the organisational and technical readiness of the vendor; sufficient completeness of the vendor's design activities for the phase of VDR applied for; the vendor's financial readiness to undertake the VDR; and other legal, timing or business aspects that may influence a vendor's decision to proceed.

Westinghouse said it will execute both Phases 1 and 2 of the VDR as a combined programme, "signaling the eVinci microreactor's design and technology maturity".

The eVinci microreactor is described as a "small battery" for decentralised generation markets and for microgrids, such as remote communities, remote industrial mines and critical infrastructure. The nominal 5 MWe heat pipe reactor, which has a heat capability of 14 MWt, features a design that Westinghouse says provides competitive and resilient power as well as superior reliability with minimal maintenance. It is small enough to allow for standard transportation methods, making it perfectly suited for remote locations and rapid, on-site deployment. These features, the company says, make it a viable option for places such as mines and off-grid communities.

In May, Westinghouse and the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a project to locate an eVinci microreactor in Saskatchewan for the development and testing of industrial, research, and energy use applications.

In October 2020, Bruce Power and Westinghouse agreed to pursue applications of Westinghouse's eVinci microreactor programme within Canada. The companies said the agreement supports efforts by the federal and provincial governments to study applications for nuclear technology to reach their goal of a net-zero Canada by 2050.

"Our state-of-the-art eVinci microreactor technology will unlock additional potential in remote communities and decentralised industrial sites," said David Durham, President Energy Systems at Westinghouse. "Westinghouse's nuclear battery technology can safely provide heat and power for more than eight years of continuous operations. We look forward to applying this technology across the country while creating local jobs and advancing Canada's energy security and net-zero goals."

In December 2021, Westinghouse submitted a pre-application regulatory engagement plan (REP) with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for its eVinci microreactor, detailing the planned pre-licensing application interactions with the regulator. An REP helps reactor developers' early interactions with NRC staff and can reduce regulatory uncertainty and add predictability to licensing advanced technologies.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News