September 3, 2020 at 8:25 am

NuScale got the go ahead from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission

By Prashant Tambe

It’s a major step for an Oregon company on the verge of revolutionizing clean energy production.

Just last week NuScale got the go ahead from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to start building its unique nuclear power plants.

Back in 2011 Dr. Jose Reyes invited us into his nuclear engineering lab on the Oregon State University campus to show us what he believed was the future of clean energy.

One hope buoying nuclear energy advocates has been the promise of “small modular reactor” designs. By dividing a nuclear facility into an array of smaller reactors, they can largely be manufactured in a factory and then dropped into place, saving us from having to build a complex, possibly one-of-a-kind behemoth on site. That could be a big deal for nuclear’s persistent financial problems, while also enabling some design features that further improve safety.

On Friday, the first small modular reactor received a design certification from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, meaning that it meets safety requirements and could be chosen by future projects seeking licensing and approval.

The design comes from NuScale, a company birthed from research at Oregon State University that has received some substantial Department of Energy funding. It’s a 76-foot-tall, 15-foot-wide steel cylinder (23 meters by 5 meters) capable of producing 50 megawatts of electricity. (The company also has a 60-megawatt iteration teed up.) They envision a plant employing up to 12 of these reactors in a large pool like those used in current nuclear plants.

NuScale's reactor-in-a-can.

What we saw was a nuclear reactor unlike any we’d seen before.

It was a much smaller, simpler, and safer one.

“Everything you need for safety is right there with the containment.” Reyes explained at the time.

And now what started in that lab is about to become a reality.

Last week, the design became the first small nuclear reactor to be approved in the United States.

“The whole world has been watching what we’re doing here in Oregon,” said Reyes.

At only 70 feet long and 15 feet wide, the small nuclear reactors can be built in a factory and then shipped out to utility companies across the globe.

The design allows it to be easily integrated with other renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.

“One module will produce 60 megawatts of electricity,” said Reyes. “That’s enough for about 50 thousand homes.”

The company’s first project is a small-scale nuclear plant in Idaho made up of 12 modules that will produce enough electricity to power a city close to the size of Portland.

But not only can the modules power homes, they can help produce hydrogen for hydrogen fuel cars, and drinking water for communities that need it.

“For example a 60 megawatt module could produce about 60 million gallons of clean water per day using existing technologies in reverse osmosis,” explained Reyes.

And when it comes to jobs, the company says these modules will save many.

That’s because they’re small enough to move right into the existing framework of old retired coal plants.

“We’ve designed a plant that can be used to re-purpose the retiring coal-fired plants,” said Reyes,

It’s a design taking shape in Oregon that soon could be implemented world-wide.

In addition to domestic power companies, NuScale is also in discussions with utilities overseas for future projects.

Prashant Tambe

An expert in SEO, Prashant carries an experience of over five years in the industry. He has the ability to analyze global industry trends that helps the leaders to make smarter decisions. An electrical, electronics and communication engineer, Prashant is able to predict future trends as they are changing fast with technological development.

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