Expansion of US-Korean cooperation on SMRs

26 April 2023

Agreements to cooperate on small modular reactors (SMRs) have been signed between South Korean and US companies during a visit by Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to the USA. Doosan Enerbility and the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate with NuScale Power, while SK and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) have agreed to collaborate with TerraPower.

(Image: NuScale)

The MoU between NuScale, Doosan and KEXIM aims to "strengthen collaboration among the three parties and support NuScale's small modular reactor deployment".

"This announcement leverages and bolsters an existing relationship between NuScale and Doosan, and it highlights the domestic and global manufacturing opportunities to build SMRs around the world," NuScale said.

The MoU outlines areas of cooperation, such as marketing, technical support and further development of a global supply chain, while Doosan and NuScale commit to strengthening their cooperation to deploy NuScale VOYGR plants globally. Specifically, Doosan committed to helping establish a US-based supply chain for NuScale Power Module production through capacity expansion and manufacturing technology advancement.

Doosan Enerbility - under its former name of Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction - in 2019 signed a business collaboration agreement with NuScale for the supply of NuScale Power Modules and other equipment and, together with Korean financial investors, has made an equity investment of nearly USD104 million in the Portland, Oregon-based SMR company. The Korean company completed a manufacturability review in January 2021 and Doosan is now working on component prototype development.

At the end of 2022, NuScale placed the first upper reactor pressure vessel long lead material production order with Doosan.

Last month, KEXIM - the official export credit agency of South Korea - and NuScale signed an MoU in which they agreed to financial cooperation in support of deploying NuScale VOYGR plants. The organisation continues to explore potential opportunities to provide credit facilities to NuScale and facilitate overseas business of Doosan in collaboration with NuScale.

"With KEXIM's assistance, Doosan and NuScale will be able to deploy NuScale VOYGR plants worldwide and utilise a Korean supply chain when deploying NuScale plants in the Asian market," NuScale said.

"Today's news underscores how our SMRs fill a unique global need: providing flexible, reliable and carbon-free energy while driving economic activity in manufacturing and supply chain development. With our Korean partners and their technical expertise, we are well-positioned to meet this ambitious goal," said NuScale President and CEO John Hopkins. "The momentum towards creating a domestic and global supply chain to deploy our SMR technology is accelerating."

The NuScale Power Module is a pressurised water reactor with all the components for steam generation and heat exchange incorporated into a single unit, generating 77 MWe, which in September 2020 became the first SMR design to receive approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. NuScale offers the units as VOYGR plants: a VOYGR-12 power plant comprising 12 modules is capable of generating 924 MWe. The company also offers four-module and six-module plants and other configurations based on customer needs.

Cambridge, Ontario-based ATS Corporation's Industrial Automation business has been awarded a contract by NuScale to build and test a prototype for the Module Assembly Equipment-Bolting (MAE-B) system, a critical part of the NuScale VOYGR power plant.

The MAE-B system includes prototyping the automation technology to be used on the Reactor Flange and Containment Flange tools. Extensive testing will be performed on the system to provide confidence that the technology will operate as intended for the NuScale Power Module. The prototype, which will serve as a proof-of-concept system, will be assembled and tested at an ATS facility in Wixom, Michigan.

KHNP joins TerraPower effort

TerraPower announced it has signed a collaboration agreement with SK and KHNP supporting the demonstration and commercialisation of the Natrium reactor and integrated energy system.

(Image: TerraPower)

SK Inc and SK Innovation - both affiliates of SK Group, Korea's second-largest conglomerate - invested USD250 million in TerraPower in August last year during an equity raise of USD830 million, the largest private raise among advanced nuclear companies to date.

"The addition of KHNP, a globally recognised nuclear developer, further strengthens the team collaborating to bring the Natrium reactor to market," TerraPower said.

"These partnerships are critical for the first Natrium reactor and the many additional facilities we plan to construct in the US and globally," said TerraPower President Chris Levesque. "We already have a strong partner in SK and look forward to adding the recognised global expertise of KHNP as a long-term partner to help realise the benefits of advanced nuclear energy".

He added: "Today's collaboration announcement, supported by government and corporate leaders, further exemplifies the important role the public and private sector have in bringing new technologies to market."

TerraPower has been selected by the US Department of Energy to receive cost-shared funding through the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program to test, license and build an advanced reactor within the next seven years. The company has selected Kemmerer in Wyoming as the preferred site for the Natrium nuclear power plant demonstration project, which will feature a 345 MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor with a molten salt-based energy storage system. The storage technology can temporarily boost the system's output to 500 MWe when needed, enabling the plant to follow daily electric load changes and integrate seamlessly with fluctuating renewable resources.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News