NuScale to make SMR safety platform widely available

12 July 2022

NuScale Power and Paragon Energy Solutions have signed a patent licence agreement that will enable potential widespread use of the highly integrated protection system (HIPS) platform. The HIPS platform is a protection system architecture jointly developed by NuScale and Rock Creek Innovations, a company acquired by Paragon in December 2021.

A rendering of a VOYGR-6 plant (Image: UAMPS)

In 2017, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) evaluated the HIPS platform developed for NuScale's small modular reactor (SMR), concluding that it is an effective platform for safety-related instrumentation and control systems in nuclear applications.

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 module 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 - which has partnered with RCI since 2010 - is planning to use the HIPS platform - which does not utilise software or microprocessors for operation - for the module protection system of its SMR.

The signing of the licence agreement between NuScale and Paragon enables the broader nuclear industry to implement the NRC-approved HIPS platform.

"This agreement will propel the industry forward in meeting global decarbonisation goals in the near-term by enabling an efficient, cost-effective and cyber-resistant reactor protection solution for other reactor designs through the use of the HIPS platform," NuScale said.

"The nuclear community shares a common goal of delivering carbon-free and reliable power to our respective customers and ensuring the highest level of safety," said NuScale President and CEO John Hopkins. "NuScale and Paragon are thrilled to offer our sophisticated HIPS technology to help our industry advance into a clean energy future."

"HIPS performs with robust, analog-like reliability while providing essential diagnostics for plants to reduce operation and maintenance costs," said Paragon President and CEO Doug VanTassell. "The HIPS technology is a game-changer for nuclear power plant operators who are looking for safety-related systems that work for multiple decades without major upgrades."

The NuScale Power Module, a pressurised water reactor with all the components for steam generation and heat exchange incorporated into a single 77 MWe unit, is the first SMR design to receive approval from the NRC. A 12-module VOYGR-12 power plant is capable of generating 924 MWe; the company also offers four-module VOYGR-4 (308 MWe) and six-module VOYGR-6 (462 MWe) power plants, as well as other configurations based on customer needs.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News