NRC Chair Hanson shares his thoughts on the NRC's mission with ANS Executive Director Piercy. 1

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  1. So according to the NRC if there are people with concerns, the only response is to make regulations even more stringent? They can’t explain what happens with radiation? Did I get his response right?

  2. Thanks for the link. That discussion was rather educational. It certainly does sound like the NRC will have difficulty completing required tasks for some time. There is a good possibility that there will be a boom in nuclear orders. The NRC struggles with staff issues due to the current demographics. It had never occurred to me that they even have a sort of de facto responsibility for some foreign installations. Maybe, it’s OK to go a bit slower to keep the world safe.

    As was pointed out to me several months back, Moore’s Law does not apply to nuclear power.

  3. The takeaway for me is that part 53, when completed, is not going to result in any significant reductions in the licensing process timeline. Fine. It just makes it clear to me that the iterative design approach is simply not doable with fission, particularly given fuel qualification times. Rather, if you want to get an innovative design built in the least amount of time, you need to (counterintuitively) have your FOAK reactor include the specifications, bells, and whistles you want on the final, optimized version. It will take longer than a single, or maybe even two iterations, but you only have to license one design. It’s a higher risk approach, for sure, but the window of opportunity for advanced fission is too small to risk being stuck with sub-par, uncompetitive designs that are technologically well below what we are capable of.

    1. Jon:

      Though I agree that Part 53 isn’t going to produce improved licensing timelines, I don’t agree that fact precludes an iterative design process.

      The NRC doesn’t start from scratch when it reviews evolves designs. Design improvements don’t necessarily require new fuel qualifications.

      The NRC has just released its resource estimate for a Standard Design Approval (SDA) for NuScale’s 77 MWe power module. Though still not as quick as I would like, the new SDA estimate is 24 months compared to the 42 month review for SDA leading to the Design Certification for the 50 MWe version.

      1. I should be more specific in that I’m referring to UN and UC fuel forms, for both thermal and fast spectrum applications. I actually like the approach that the ALLEGRO consortium is taking where their prototype GCFR, designed for carbide fuel, will have its first core be oxide but for the purpose of qualifying their carbide fuel and then the next core will be all carbide; eliminating the need for a dedicated fast spectrum test reactor.

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