NRC approves safety platform for NuScale SMR

18 July 2017

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has concluded that the highly integrated protection system (HIPS) platform developed for NuScale Power's small modular reactor is acceptable for use in plant safety-related instrumentation and control systems.

The HIPS platform is a protective system architecture designed by NuScale and Rock Creek Innovations LLC over six years. The hybrid analog and digital logic-based system comprises the safety function, communications, equipment interface and hardwired modules. All the modules operate independently and asynchronously. The four modules types can be interconnected to implement multiple configurations to support various types of reactor safety systems. The platform also uses field programmable gate array technology that is not vulnerable to internet cyber-attacks.

NuScale is planning to use the HIPS platform - which does not utilise software or microprocessors for operation - for the module protection system of its SMR.

In December 2015, NuScale requested the NRC review and approval that the key design concepts demonstrate that the HIPS platform meets the applicable regulatory requirements associated with the fundamental I&C design principles.

In April 2017, the NRC Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) said NRC staff had identified a number of application specific action items (ASAIs) that must be implemented for NRC approval of the platform for safety-related applications in any nuclear power plant.

The ACRS concluded the four HIPS platform modules and their design features can be configured to meet the fundamental I&C design principles of independence, redundancy, predictability and repeatability, and diversity and defence-in-depth. The NRC staff also concluded that the HIPS platform meets the applicable regulatory requirements for safety-related I&C systems "when each plant-specific and application-specific use meets the limitations and conditions delineated in the ASAIs."

NuScale chief operating officer Dale Atkinson said, "NuScale is pleased to have received this important regulatory approval as it is a major step toward successful completion of the NRC design certification."

Earlier this year, a working prototype of the HIPS platform was installed and tested in the NuScale simulator in Corvallis, Oregon. The prototype was designed and manufactured by NuScale strategic partner Ultra Electronics.

In December, NuScale submitted the first-ever SMR design certification application to the NRC, for the design of its SMR and for a power plant containing 12 NuScale modules capable of a total facility output of 600 MWe (gross). On 15 March, the NRC accepted NuScale's application. The first commercial NuScale power plant is planned for construction on the site of the Idaho National Laboratory for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems and operated by Energy Northwest.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News