French-developed SMR design unveiled

17 September 2019

A new small modular reactor (SMR) design has been announced by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), EDF, Naval Group and TechnicAtome. The Nuward - with a capacity of 300-400 MWe - has been jointly developed using France's experience in pressurised water reactors (PWRs).

A design concept for the Nuward SMR (Image: TechnicAtome)

In a joint statement, the organisations said the Nuward design has been developed to meet "growing world demand for decarbonised, safe and competitive electricity generation". The design will "benefit from best in class French technologies from more than 50 years of experience in PWR design, development, construction and more than 2000 reactor years of PWR operating experience".

The CEA has contributed to the development of the Nuward design with its skills in research and qualification, while utility EDF has helped through its experience in systems integration and operation. Naval defence company Naval Group has contributed its structures and modular experience to the project, with TechnicAtome providing its compact reactor design experience.

According to the partners, the Nuward design will be a "modular solution introducing some significant innovations with major benefits to the operator and product's competitiveness: compacity and simplicity of an integrated design, flexibility for construction and operation, innovative safety approach in line with the world's best standards".

The Nuward partners say they are open to international cooperation, "notably to foster the harmonisation of regulation, the standardisation of design and design optimisation".

CEA and EDF have already started discussions with Westinghouse of the USA to explore potential cooperation on SMR development.

EDF Chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy said: "EDF is committed to contributing its wealth of experience to make Nuward a success. Alongside our partners, we believe the project unveiled today is a promising beginning of a safe and competitive nuclear design meant to broaden the range of solutions for low-carbon baseload energy offered by the French nuclear industry. We are proud to team with the best experts and breed this new nuclear technology to address a new, high-potential market."

The partners aim to complete the basic design of the Nuward between 2022 and 2025. The design should be in the "advanced concept phase" between 2025 and 2030, during which time the design is expected to be certified and the supply chain developed. Construction of a demonstration Nuward SMR is scheduled for 2030. The construction of that unit is expected to take three years.

Late last month, media reports said that CEA had dropped development of a 600 MWe sodium-cooled nuclear reactor. CEA reportedly said it would finalise research in its Astrid (Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration) project this year and is no longer planning to build a prototype in the short or medium term.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News