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GE Hitachi Seeks Review In Canada For Small Modular Reactor Design

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Feb 26, 2020

Wilmington-based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is pushing its small modular reactor design in Canada.

The firm, a global nuclear alliance created by GE and Hitachi, announced Wednesday that it made its first submittal to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for a vendor design review of the company's BWRX-300, a small modular reactor (SMR) design, according to a news release.

The move in Canada marks another step in advancing the SMR model to reach commercialization. 

Much of the engineering work in support of the design and other efforts are taking place in Wilmington, GE Hitachi spokesman Jon Allen has said previously.

The company recently started the U.S. licensing process for the SMR design with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

On top of the licensing process in the U.S., GE Hitachi recently entered an agreement with an electricity conglomerate to examine the feasibility of building a BWRX-300 in the Czech Republic. Similar strides are also being made for the model in Estonia and Poland.

The BWRX-300 is a 300-megawatt electric (MWe) water-cooled, natural circulation SMR design with passive safety systems. It leverages the design and licensing basis of GE Hitachi's NRC-certified Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor.

“As the demand for affordable, clean, carbon-free energy grows, there is considerable global interest in the BWRX-300 SMR and Canada is poised to play an important role in its deployment,” Jon Ball, executive vice president of nuclear products for GE Hitachi, said in the release. “Continuing the pre-licensing process with the CNSC will move us closer to the commercialization of this breakthrough technology.”

The pre-licensing vendor design review (VDR) is an optional service provided by the CNSC to provide early feedback during the design process, officials said in the release. The objective is to verify whether a plant design meets Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations.

The company's recent submittals to the CNSC for the combined Phase 1 and 2 review "address eight of the 19 VDR focus areas including general plant description, control system and facilities, research and development and design process," officials said in the release.

BWRX-300 is designed to require less capital costs than larger nuclear reactor designs. The company believes the SMR model can become "cost-competitive with power generation from combined cycle gas plants and renewable energy platforms," stated the release.

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