URS to support Holtec SMR development

28 June 2013

Holtec International is teaming up with engineering, construction and technical services company URS Corporation to develop its SMR-160 small modular reactor (SMR).

Under a memorandum of understanding signed recently, URS Nuclear - a unit of URS' energy and construction division - will assist Holtec in the design and qualification of the various plant systems.

Holtec said that as the SMR-160 is envisaged as a standardized design, the equipment layout as well as the selection of hardware features must be made with "careful consideration of the diverse climates and environmental conditions under which the power plants will be sited."

Holtec SMR-160 cutaway - 460

A cutaway of the SMR-160 reactor design (Image: Holtec)

Holtec describes the 160 MWe SMR-160 as an "autonomous and environmentally friendly" plant. Each unit occupies less than five acres (just over 2 hectares) of land and can be operated with conventional water or air cooling, making it suitable for sites without access to large volumes of water. Shaw and Areva Inc are also participating in development work on the project.

The first SMR-160 would likely be built at the DoE's Savannah River site, under a memorandum of agreement signed in March 2012. Similar public-private partnerships were signed by the DoE with Hyperion Power Generation and NuScale Power at the same time.

General manager and president of URS' power group Art Lembo commented, "The emergence of small modular reactors is among the most significant advancements in the global power industry today. URS is eager to support Holtec in bringing this advanced and affordable nuclear option to the power generation market."

Federal funds sought

Holtec subsidiary SMR LLC submitted a formal proposal in early 2012 seeking a share of US Department of Energy (DoE) funding for small modular reactors (SMR) development. The DoE intends to fund up two designs for SMRs through a cost-shared partnership which will support first-of-a-kind engineering, design certification and licensing. Babcock & Wilcox (B&W), NuScale Nuclear and Westinghouse also applied for the funding.

In November, the B&W mPower reactor was selected as the winner of the first round of funding, receiving access to $79 million to commercially demonstrate the design by 2022.

A second round of funding has been announced, with the deadline for proposals being 1 July. The DoE anticipates awarding those funds by mid-January 2014. The maximum amount available in each of the first and second rounds is set at $226 million.

Holtec earlier said that it would pay back any public money if it fails to secure a licence for the SMR-160.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News