Holtec and GEH team up on advancing SMR-160

15 February 2018

Holtec International and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) are to collaborate on accelerating the commercialisation of Holtec's SMR-160 small modular reactor (SMR). Their cooperation will initially include nuclear fuel development and control rod drive mechanisms.

Under a memorandum of understanding, GEH, Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF), Holtec and SMR Inventec LLC (SMR LLC) have agreed to enter into a "procompetitive collaboration" to progress the SMR-160.

GNF, a GE-led joint venture with Hitachi and Toshiba, is primarily known as a supplier of boiling water reactor fuel. SMR LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Holtec established in 2011 to manage the development of the SMR-160.

The cooperation between the four companies will initially include nuclear fuel development supported by GNF and control rod drive mechanisms designed by GEH, and may later extend to other areas.

Holtec president and CEO Kris Singh said, "This collaboration will ensure the SMR-160 supply chain, to deliver and fabricate critical SMR-160 technologies and components, including at our new Advanced Manufacturing Division in Camden, New Jersey.

GNF CEO Amir Vexler added: "We believe that our experience with boiling water reactor fuel lends itself quite well to the design features of the SMR-160."

Holtec's 160 MWe small modular reactor uses low-enriched uranium fuel. The factory-built reactor's core and all nuclear steam supply system components would be located underground, and the design incorporates a wealth of features including a passive cooling system that would be able to operate indefinitely after shutdown. No active components, such as pumps, are needed to run the reactor, which does not need any on-site or off-site power to shut down and to dissipate decay heat. The SMR-160 is planned for operation by 2026.

SMR LLC submitted a proposal to the US Department of Energy on 31 January with support from GEH and GNF, among others, in response to a funding opportunity announcement. This is for a test programme to investigate and validate the performance of the passive safety features of SMRs. Under the proposal, GEH and GNF will support phenomena assessments, scaling analyses, safety analysis system code assessment, and benchmarking and identification of recommended experimental tests.

GEH and Holtec said the project "would yield a uniquely configurable set of testing platforms" to demonstrate passive safety system performance, accelerate the SMR-160 and other SMR designs to market and help licence them with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and international regulators.

In July last year, Holtec signed a teaming agreement with Canada's SNC-Lavalin to collaborate in the development of the SMR-160. Under the agreement, SNC-Lavalin - the parent company of Candu Energy - will provide Holtec with a range of nuclear engineering services, including supporting the licensing of the SMR-160 reactor.

Holtec has previously secured engineering, design and qualification support for its work on the SMR-160 from the Shaw Group and URS Corporation, and has a strategic alliance with utility PSEG Power, operator of three nuclear units at Salem and Hope Creek in New Jersey. In August 2015, Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc signed a long-term partnership agreement with Holtec to develop the instrumentation and control systems for the SMR-160.

The project was selected by the US Department of Energy in 2012 as one of three SMR projects to be demonstrated potentially at its Savannah River site in South Carolina. The NRC is carrying out pre-application activities on the reactor design.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News