US-APWR design accepted for NRC review

03 March 2008

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' (MHI's) US Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (US-APWR) design certification application has been formally accepted by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for review.

US-APWR design (Image: Mitsubishi)
MHI submitted its application for the US-APWR with the NRC on 31 December 2007. The NRC has subjected the application to an acceptance review for completeness and technical sufficiency.

Mitsubishi met with NRC staff in July 2006 to discuss its intent to apply for design certification for the US-specific version of its APWR, an evolutionary design being licensed and built in Japan. The US version of the reactor will have a capacity of 1700 MWe, compared with 1538 MWe for the Japanese version, two of which are planned at Japan Atomic Power Co's (JAPC's) Tsuruga site in Fukui prefecture.

If the NRC certifies the US-APWR, a company applying for a licence to construct and operate a new nuclear power plant in the USA could choose to use the design and reference it in its application. In a statement, Mitsubishi said that it anticipates the review by the NRC will go smoothly since, in designing the US-APWR, MHI incorporated its experience in building 23 PWR reactors currently in operation in Japan to achieve enhanced safety and reliability.

US energy giant Energy Future Holdings, formerly TXU, has selected MHI's US-APWR design for its new build plans. The company is expected to submit an application in 2008 for the construction of two reactors at Comanche Peak in Texas.

Bill Borchardt, director of the NRC's Office of New Reactors, said: "We're expecting an application later this year from a company that wants permission to build and operate a US-APWR in Texas. The staff expects this design certification review will continue at least into 2011."

Mitsubishi is the fourth company to recently seek US approval for a new reactor design. On 11 December 2007, Areva submitted its application for design certification of its US Evolutionary Power Reactor (USEPR) design. The NRC accepted the USEPR for review on 25 February. GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) submitted an application for design certification for the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) on 24 August 2005. Westinghouse's AP1000 design gained design certification in December 2005.