Moltex SMR clears first phase of regulatory review

26 May 2021

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has completed the first phase of the pre-licensing vendor design review (VDR) for Moltex Energy’s 300 MWe Stable Salt Reactor - Wasteburner (SSR-W 300) small modular reactor.

A Moltex reactor site envisioned by the company (Image: Moltex)

"Overall, Moltex Energy demonstrated an understanding of our regulatory requirements and expectations," the regulator said. Additional work will be required in areas such as management systems, safety classification and design aspects of containment structures should Moltex Energy decide to proceed with a Phase 2 review, it added.

The VDR is an optional service provided to reactor vendors by the CNSC to verify the acceptability of a proposed reactor design against Canadian regulatory requirements and expectations. The three-phase process does not certify a reactor design and is not a required part of the licensing process for a new nuclear power plant - the CNSC's licensing processes will require a more detailed review of the design and safety case for a specific licence application at a specific site. VDRs are carried out at the request of the vendor.

The Phase 1 review provides early and general feedback to the vendor about its reactor design and processes on matters related to CNSC regulatory requirements and expectations. The regulator formally agreed to commence the review of Moltex's design in November 2017, and the company over a 42-month period submitted 50 documents to cover the 19 technical review focus areas. It also provided familiarisation sessions, responses to requests for additional information and technical clarifications through letters, emails and meetings.

The CNSC said the issues it had identified as requiring additional follow-up are foreseen to be resolvable and will be followed up on in future phases of the VDR.

Moltex Energy CEO for North America Rory O'Sullivan said completing the first phase of the VDR was a major achievement. "This demonstrates that our technology is progressing in the right direction, and gives current and future customers confidence in our design of advanced nuclear reactors," he said.

The SSR-W is a molten salt reactor that uses nuclear waste as fuel. The company aims to deploy its first reactor at the Point Lepreau site in New Brunswick by the early 2030s.

Moltex's design is the fifth small modular reactor for which the CNSC has completed the Phase 1 VDR.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News