X-energy makes Canadian SMR review submission

11 August 2020

US company X-energy has initiated a Vendor Design Review (VDR) for its Xe-100 small modular reactor design with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Kinetrics will lead X-energy’s Canadian regulatory affairs and licensing efforts.

The Xe-100 reactor pressure vessel (left) and steam generator (right) (Image: X-energy)

The regulatory review will demonstrate X-energy's understanding of Canadian requirements and confirm there are no fundamental licensing barriers for the Xe-100 in Canada. The process will also provide the company early feedback to further strengthen its design.

In preparing to site the advanced nuclear technology reactors in Canada, with partners across the Canadian supply chain, X-energy says it has found the "ideal environment" to develop and deploy the 75 MWe reactors, scalable to a 300 MWe four-unit plant.

"The combination of Canada's progressive, risk-informed regulatory framework and its well-established supply chain make Canada an ideal place to site X-energy's first reactor and to create partnerships for a world-class SMR export programme," it said.

The reactor design builds on decades of high-temperature gas reactor operation and R&D. As a result, the VDR submissions reflect a well-advanced design based on inherent and passive safety. Due to the advanced state of design, the VDR is a combined Phase 1 and Phase 2 review, the company said.

The pre-licensing VDR is offered by CNSC as an optional service to assess a nuclear power plant design based on a vendor's reactor technology. It is not a required part of the licensing process for a new nuclear power plant, but aims to verify the acceptability of a design with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations. The three phases of the VDR process involve: a pre-licensing assessment of compliance with regulatory requirements; an assessment of any potential fundamental barriers to licensing; and a follow-up phase allowing the vendor to respond to findings from the second phase.

The Xe-100 is a 200 MWt (75 MWe) reactor, which X-energy envisages being built as a standard "four-pack" plant generating about 300 MWe. The plant will use 'pebbles' of fuel containing Triso fuel particles. Each Triso particle has a kernel of uranium oxycarbide (also known as UCO) enriched to 15.5% uranium-235, encased in carbon and ceramic layers which prevent the release of radioactivity. The layers provide each particle with its own independent containment system, while the graphite surrounding the particles moderates the nuclear reaction. Such fuel cannot melt down.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News