First partner announced for New Brunswick SMR project

10 July 2018

The New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation yesterday announced Advanced Reactor Concepts (ARC) as its first partner in a nuclear research cluster that will work on research and development of small modular reactor technology in the Canadian province.

Pictured at the announcement at Point Lepreau yesterday are (L-R): Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet; Gaëtan Thomas, president and CEO of NB Power; Heather Chalmers, president of GE Canada; and Don Wolf, CEO and chairman of ARC (Image: Government of New Brunswick)

The announcement follows the government of New Brunswick's commitment of CAD10 million (USD7.5 million), announced on 26 June, to help the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation develop a nuclear research cluster in the province, which is home to the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant. The move aims to position New Brunswick as a leader in the field of research and development of small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

ARC is developing the ARC-100, a 100 MWe integrated sodium-cooled fast reactor with a metallic uranium alloy core. The company last year signed an agreement with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) to collaborate on development and licensing, and uses proprietary technology from GEH's PRISM reactor. Both the PRISM and ARC-100 designs are based on the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II) integral sodium-cooled fast reactor prototype which operated at the USA's Argonne National Laboratory from 1961, finally shutting down in 1994.

ARC will commit CAD5 million to operations and research in New Brunswick, and establish an office in St John.

ARC Chairman and CEO Don Wolf said the company was excited by the new collaboration and applauded New Brunswick for its strategic decision. "We intend to demonstrate that the inherent safety features of our reactor enable a simple and cost-effective design which will be competitive with all other forms of electricity generation, all while protecting our environment and complying with the export control rules of Canada and the United States," he said.

The New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation is a joint venture formed in May 2017 by New Brunswick's provincial government and NB Power, operator of the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant, to explore energy export opportunities.

Gaëtan Thomas, president and CEO of NB Power, said ARC was an "excellent fit" for New Brunswick's research and development project. "The company is a world leader in its field and will be a great asset here in the province, along with our other partners we will announce soon as we broaden our opportunities in the energy sector," he said.

New Brunswick's government sees energy as a way of growing its economy and is well-placed geographically, and through existing nuclear infrastructure and expertise, to play a role in the growth of the SMR technology sector, Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet said earlier this month.

Doucet yesterday welcomed the participation of ARC. "We are well-positioned to seize an opportunity in this sector thanks to the know-how of our people and the tremendous asset we have in Point Lepreau," he said. "We are pleased to see that we have partners coming to the table who have the ability to make advancements in this sector, as we seek to transition to a lower-carbon economy."

Natural Resources Canada earlier this year launched a process to prepare a roadmap to explore the potential of on- and off-grid applications for SMR technology, aiming to position the country to become a global leader in the emerging SMR market. National nuclear science and technology organisation Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has set a goal of siting a new SMR on its Chalk River site by 2026, and Canadian company Terrestrial Energy in June last year began a feasibility study for the siting of the first commercial Integrated Molten Salt Reactor at Chalk River. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is currently involved in pre-licensing vendor design reviews for ten small reactors with capacities in the range of 3-300 MWe.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News