Idaho simulator facility supports SMR initiative

01 September 2021

A new facility opened by NuScale Power in collaboration with the University of Idaho at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES), in Idaho Falls, Idaho, will enable users to take on the role of control room operator to learn about the innovative features and functionality unique to NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR) technology. Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) this week said work in preparation for a licence application is progressing at the site where it plans to build a NuScale SMR plant.

The E2 center will give users a "hands-on" experience of controlling a NuScale 12-unit SMR plant (Image: NuScale)

The CAES SMR Simulator Laboratory will offer users an "exciting hands-on learning opportunity" to apply nuclear science and engineering principles through simulated, real-world nuclear power plant operation scenarios, NuScale Power said. The laboratory uses state-of-the-art computer modelling within a simulator of the NuScale SMR power plant control room. As well as assisting the research of the CAES entities - Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Boise State University, Idaho State University, and University of Idaho - it will also be used for community outreach through demonstrations, tours, and education to community leaders, school students, and interested citizens.

The facility is the second of three NuScale Energy Exploration (E2) Centers planned at CAES, which are supported by a 2019 US Department of Energy grant to broaden the understanding of advanced nuclear technology in a control room setting and provide students, researchers, operators, and members of the public opportunities to engage in science, technology, engineering, and maths research and education.

The first E2 Center opened at Oregon State University in November 2020.

High interest in plant

UAMPS launched its Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) to build a NuScale SMR plant on a site at INL in 2015. A "great deal of work" is now underway at the Idaho site to develop the combined operating licence application for the plant, UAMPS said in a project update on 31 August.

Three firms - Fluor, RIZZO and S&ME - are mobilised at the site, it said, setting up operations and carrying out site surveys, surface seismic activity investigations and road upgrades. Over the next three months, eight drill rigs will be used to drill 50 boreholes and 10 wells for groundwater monitoring and an aquifer pump test.

Negotiations are ongoing with Bank of America for a revolving credit agreement to finance project development costs, and the UAMPS is working with outside utilities to achieve full project subscription, it said. "Interest in the project remains high and is increasing," it added.

UAMPS is a political subdivision of the State of Utah that provides wholesale electric-energy, transmission and other energy services to community-owned power systems throughout the Intermountain West region of the USA. Its members are located California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming, as well as in Utah.

UAMPS aims to start up the CFPP in 2030.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News