First submissions for Canadian review of eVinci design

06 July 2023

Westinghouse Electric Company has submitted the first set of documents to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for the pre-licensing vendor design review (VDR) of its eVinci microreactor.

A rendering of an eVinci plant (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. A service agreement between the company and the CNSC was signed in September 2022, initiating the VDR process. Westinghouse is executing both Phases 1 and 2 of the VDR as a combined programme.

Westinghouse has now provided four Phase 1 Focus Area submissions to the CNSC. Overall, more than 40 submissions will be filed during Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the VDR process.

"The submissions will enable early identification and resolution of potential regulatory and technical issues as the eVinci technology advances through the design process," the company said.

Westinghouse is also planning 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 of regulatory expectations.

In December 2021, Westinghouse submitted a pre-application regulatory engagement plan (REP) with the NRC for the 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.

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 approach will enable deployment of a standard design in both the USA and Canada.

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.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News