GE Hitachi initiates US licensing of BWRX-300

31 January 2020

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has officially started the regulatory licensing process for its BWRX-300 reactor design. On 30 December, the company submitted the first licensing topical report for the small modular reactor to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The company expects such reports to serve as a foundation for the development of a Preliminary Safety Analysis Report that could potentially be submitted to the NRC by a utility customer.

A cutaway of a plant based on the BWRX-300 (Image: GEH)

The BWRX-300 is a 300 MWe SMR derived from GEH's 1520 MWe Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) design. According to GEH, the BWRX-300 leverages the design and licensing basis of the ESBWR, which received design certification from the NRC in 2014. GEH says that, by leveraging the existing ESBWR design certification, utilising licensed and proven nuclear fuel designs, incorporating proven components and supply chains, and implementing simplification innovations, the BWRX-300 can, become cost competitive with power generation from combined cycle gas plants and renewable energy platforms.

"The first licensing topical report was submitted to the NRC at the end of 2019 as part of an aggressive timeline that we set for ourselves," Jon Ball, executive vice president of nuclear products for GEH, said. "As the global demand for carbon-free energy increases, we are seeing significant interest in this groundbreaking SMR technology and are excited about continuing to work toward US licensing," he added.

The Wilmington, North Carolina based company added that, as the tenth evolution of the boiling water reactor, the BWRX-300 represents "the simplest, yet most innovative" BWR design since GE began developing nuclear reactors in 1955.

In March 2019, it submitted an application for a service agreement with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to conduct a vendor design review of the BWRX-300. A service agreement is a legal document that establishes the terms and conditions between the CNSC and a reactor vendor. The CNSC's review of the BWRX-300 was initiated in May.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News